Advanced Usage

This document covers some of Requests more advanced features.

Session Objects

The Session object allows you to persist certain parameters across requests. It also persists cookies across all requests made from the Session instance.

A session object has all the methods of the main Requests API.

Let’s persist some cookies across requests:

s = requests.Session()

r = s.get("")

print r.text
# '{"cookies": {"sessioncookie": "123456789"}}'

Sessions can also be used to provide default data to the request methods. This is done by providing data to the properties on a session object:

s = requests.Session()
s.auth = ('user', 'pass')
s.headers.update({'x-test': 'true'})

# both 'x-test' and 'x-test2' are sent
s.get('', headers={'x-test2': 'true'})

Any dictionaries that you pass to a request method will be merged with the session-level values that are set. The method-level parameters override session parameters.

Remove a Value From a Dict Parameter

Sometimes you’ll want to omit session-level keys from a dict parameter. To do this, you simply set that key’s value to None in the method-level parameter. It will automatically be omitted.

All values that are contained within a session are directly available to you. See the Session API Docs to learn more.

Request and Response Objects

Whenever a call is made to requests.*() you are doing two major things. First, you are constructing a Request object which will be sent of to a server to request or query some resource. Second, a Response object is generated once requests gets a response back from the server. The response object contains all of the information returned by the server and also contains the Request object you created originally. Here is a simple request to get some very important information from Wikipedia’s servers:

>>> r = requests.get('')

If we want to access the headers the server sent back to us, we do this:

>>> r.headers
{'content-length': '56170', 'x-content-type-options': 'nosniff', 'x-cache':
'HIT from cp1006.eqiad.wmnet, MISS from cp1010.eqiad.wmnet', 'content-encoding':
'gzip', 'age': '3080', 'content-language': 'en', 'vary': 'Accept-Encoding,Cookie',
'server': 'Apache', 'last-modified': 'Wed, 13 Jun 2012 01:33:50 GMT',
'connection': 'close', 'cache-control': 'private, s-maxage=0, max-age=0,
must-revalidate', 'date': 'Thu, 14 Jun 2012 12:59:39 GMT', 'content-type':
'text/html; charset=UTF-8', 'x-cache-lookup': 'HIT from cp1006.eqiad.wmnet:3128,
MISS from cp1010.eqiad.wmnet:80'}

However, if we want to get the headers we sent the server, we simply access the request, and then the request’s headers:

>>> r.request.headers
{'Accept-Encoding': 'identity, deflate, compress, gzip',
'Accept': '*/*', 'User-Agent': 'python-requests/0.13.1'}

SSL Cert Verification

Requests can verify SSL certificates for HTTPS requests, just like a web browser. To check a host’s SSL certificate, you can use the verify argument:

>>> requests.get('', verify=True)
requests.exceptions.SSLError: hostname '' doesn't match either of '*', ''

I don’t have SSL setup on this domain, so it fails. Excellent. Github does though:

>>> requests.get('', verify=True)
<Response [200]>

You can also pass verify the path to a CA_BUNDLE file for private certs. You can also set the REQUESTS_CA_BUNDLE environment variable.

Requests can also ignore verifying the SSL certficate if you set verify to False.

>>> requests.get('', verify=False)
<Response [200]>

By default, verify is set to True. Option verify only applies to host certs.

You can also specify the local cert file either as a path or key value pair:

>>> requests.get('', cert=('/path/server.crt', '/path/key'))
<Response [200]>

If you specify a wrong path or an invalid cert:

>>> requests.get('', cert='/wrong_path/server.pem')
SSLError: [Errno 336265225] _ssl.c:347: error:140B0009:SSL routines:SSL_CTX_use_PrivateKey_file:PEM lib

Body Content Workflow

By default, when you make a request, the body of the response is downloaded immediately. You can override this behavior and defer downloading the response body until you access the Response.content attribute with the stream parameter:

tarball_url = ''
r = requests.get(tarball_url, stream=True)

At this point only the response headers have been downloaded and the connection remains open, hence allowing us to make content retrieval conditional:

if int(r.headers['content-length']) < TOO_LONG:
  content = r.content

You can further control the workflow by use of the Response.iter_content and Response.iter_lines methods, or reading from the underlying urllib3 urllib3.HTTPResponse at Response.raw.


Excellent news — thanks to urllib3, keep-alive is 100% automatic within a session! Any requests that you make within a session will automatically reuse the appropriate connection!

Note that connections are only released back to the pool for reuse once all body data has been read; be sure to either set stream to False or read the content property of the Response object.

Event Hooks

Requests has a hook system that you can use to manipulate portions of the request process, or signal event handling.

Available hooks:

The response generated from a Request.

You can assign a hook function on a per-request basis by passing a {hook_name: callback_function} dictionary to the hooks request parameter:


That callback_function will receive a chunk of data as its first argument.

def print_url(r):

If an error occurs while executing your callback, a warning is given.

If the callback function returns a value, it is assumed that it is to replace the data that was passed in. If the function doesn’t return anything, nothing else is effected.

Let’s print some request method arguments at runtime:

>>> requests.get('', hooks=dict(response=print_url))
<Response [200]>

Custom Authentication

Requests allows you to use specify your own authentication mechanism.

Any callable which is passed as the auth argument to a request method will have the opportunity to modify the request before it is dispatched.

Authentication implementations are subclasses of requests.auth.AuthBase, and are easy to define. Requests provides two common authentication scheme implementations in requests.auth: HTTPBasicAuth and HTTPDigestAuth.

Let’s pretend that we have a web service that will only respond if the X-Pizza header is set to a password value. Unlikely, but just go with it.

from requests.auth import AuthBase

class PizzaAuth(AuthBase):
    """Attaches HTTP Pizza Authentication to the given Request object."""
    def __init__(self, username):
        # setup any auth-related data here
        self.username = username

    def __call__(self, r):
        # modify and return the request
        r.headers['X-Pizza'] = self.username
        return r

Then, we can make a request using our Pizza Auth:

>>> requests.get('', auth=PizzaAuth('kenneth'))
<Response [200]>

Streaming Requests

With requests.Response.iter_lines() you can easily iterate over streaming APIs such as the Twitter Streaming API.

To use the Twitter Streaming API to track the keyword “requests”:

import requests
import json

r ='',
    data={'track': 'requests'}, auth=('username', 'password'), stream=True)

for line in r.iter_lines():
    if line: # filter out keep-alive new lines
        print json.loads(line)


If you need to use a proxy, you can configure individual requests with the proxies argument to any request method:

import requests

proxies = {
  "http": "",
  "https": "",

requests.get("", proxies=proxies)

You can also configure proxies by environment variables HTTP_PROXY and HTTPS_PROXY.

$ export HTTP_PROXY=""
$ export HTTPS_PROXY=""
$ python
>>> import requests
>>> requests.get("")

To use HTTP Basic Auth with your proxy, use the http://user:password@host/ syntax:

proxies = {
    "http": "http://user:pass@",


Requests is intended to be compliant with all relevant specifications and RFCs where that compliance will not cause difficulties for users. This attention to the specification can lead to some behaviour that may seem unusual to those not familiar with the relevant specification.


When you receive a response, Requests makes a guess at the encoding to use for decoding the response when you call the Response.text method. Requests will first check for an encoding in the HTTP header, and if none is present, will use charade to attempt to guess the encoding.

The only time Requests will not do this is if no explicit charset is present in the HTTP headers and the Content-Type header contains text. In this situation, RFC 2616 specifies that the default charset must be ISO-8859-1. Requests follows the specification in this case. If you require a different encoding, you can manually set the Response.encoding property, or use the raw Response.content.

HTTP Verbs

Requests provides access to almost the full range of HTTP verbs: GET, OPTIONS, HEAD, POST, PUT, PATCH and DELETE. The following provides detailed examples of using these various verbs in Requests, using the GitHub API.

We will begin with the verb most commonly used: GET. HTTP GET is an idempotent method that returns a resource from a given URL. As a result, it is the verb you ought to use when attempting to retrieve data from a web location. An example usage would be attempting to get information about a specific commit from GitHub. Suppose we wanted commit a050faf on Requests. We would get it like so:

>>> import requests
>>> r = requests.get('')

We should confirm that GitHub responded correctly. If it has, we want to work out what type of content it is. Do this like so:

>>> if (r.status_code ==
...     print r.headers['content-type']
application/json; charset=utf-8

So, GitHub returns JSON. That’s great, we can use the JSON module to turn it into Python objects. Because GitHub returned UTF-8, we should use the r.text method, not the r.content method. r.content returns a bytestring, while r.text returns a Unicode-encoded string. I have no plans to perform byte-manipulation on this response, so I want any Unicode code points encoded.

>>> import json
>>> commit_data = json.loads(r.text)
>>> print commit_data.keys()
[u'committer', u'author', u'url', u'tree', u'sha', u'parents', u'message']
>>> print commit_data[u'committer']
{u'date': u'2012-05-10T11:10:50-07:00', u'email': u'', u'name': u'Kenneth Reitz'}
>>> print commit_data[u'message']
makin' history

So far, so simple. Well, let’s investigate the GitHub API a little bit. Now, we could look at the documentation, but we might have a little more fun if we use Requests instead. We can take advantage of the Requests OPTIONS verb to see what kinds of HTTP methods are supported on the url we just used.

>>> verbs = requests.options(r.url)
>>> verbs.status_code

Uh, what? That’s unhelpful! Turns out GitHub, like many API providers, don’t actually implement the OPTIONS method. This is an annoying oversight, but it’s OK, we can just use the boring documentation. If GitHub had correctly implemented OPTIONS, however, they should return the allowed methods in the headers, e.g.

>>> verbs = requests.options('')
>>> print verbs.headers['allow']

Turning to the documentation, we see that the only other method allowed for commits is POST, which creates a new commit. As we’re using the Requests repo, we should probably avoid making ham-handed POSTS to it. Instead, let’s play with the Issues feature of GitHub.

This documentation was added in response to Issue #482. Given that this issue already exists, we will use it as an example. Let’s start by getting it.

>>> r = requests.get('')
>>> r.status_code
>>> issue = json.loads(r.text)
>>> print issue[u'title']
Feature any http verb in docs
>>> print issue[u'comments']

Cool, we have three comments. Let’s take a look at the last of them.

>>> r = requests.get(r.url + u'/comments')
>>> r.status_code
>>> comments = json.loads(r.text)
>>> print comments[0].keys()
[u'body', u'url', u'created_at', u'updated_at', u'user', u'id']
>>> print comments[2][u'body']
Probably in the "advanced" section

Well, that seems like a silly place. Let’s post a comment telling the poster that he’s silly. Who is the poster, anyway?

>>> print comments[2][u'user'][u'login']

OK, so let’s tell this Kenneth guy that we think this example should go in the quickstart guide instead. According to the GitHub API doc, the way to do this is to POST to the thread. Let’s do it.

>>> body = json.dumps({u"body": u"Sounds great! I'll get right on it!"})
>>> url = u""
>>> r =, data=body)
>>> r.status_code

Huh, that’s weird. We probably need to authenticate. That’ll be a pain, right? Wrong. Requests makes it easy to use many forms of authentication, including the very common Basic Auth.

>>> from requests.auth import HTTPBasicAuth
>>> auth = HTTPBasicAuth('', 'not_a_real_password')
>>> r =, data=body, auth=auth)
>>> r.status_code
>>> content = json.loads(r.text)
>>> print content[u'body']
Sounds great! I'll get right on it.

Brilliant. Oh, wait, no! I meant to add that it would take me a while, because I had to go feed my cat. If only I could edit this comment! Happily, GitHub allows us to use another HTTP verb, PATCH, to edit this comment. Let’s do that.

>>> print content[u"id"]
>>> body = json.dumps({u"body": u"Sounds great! I'll get right on it once I feed my cat."})
>>> url = u""
>>> r = requests.patch(url=url, data=body, auth=auth)
>>> r.status_code

Excellent. Now, just to torture this Kenneth guy, I’ve decided to let him sweat and not tell him that I’m working on this. That means I want to delete this comment. GitHub lets us delete comments using the incredibly aptly named DELETE method. Let’s get rid of it.

>>> r = requests.delete(url=url, auth=auth)
>>> r.status_code
>>> r.headers['status']
'204 No Content'

Excellent. All gone. The last thing I want to know is how much of my ratelimit I’ve used. Let’s find out. GitHub sends that information in the headers, so rather than download the whole page I’ll send a HEAD request to get the headers.

>>> r = requests.head(url=url, auth=auth)
>>> print r.headers
'x-ratelimit-remaining': '4995'
'x-ratelimit-limit': '5000'

Excellent. Time to write a Python program that abuses the GitHub API in all kinds of exciting ways, 4995 more times.