How To Decode Bytes In Python

Bytes are a fundamental data structure in Python that represent a sequence of binary data. They can be encoded in different formats like ASCII, UTF-8, etc.

When we process data that we get from different sources like the internet, we may need to decode them to read or manipulate them. In this tutorial, we will learn how to decode bytes in Python.

Step 1: Create a Bytes Object

To decode bytes, we first need to create a bytes object. We can do this by using the b prefix before a string, or by encoding a string into bytes using the encode() method.

Step 2: Decode Bytes

Once we have a bytes object, we can decode it using the decode() method. This method takes an optional argument that specifies the encoding format. If we don’t provide any encoding, it assumes UTF-8 encoding by default.

Step 3: Handle Encoding Errors

Sometimes, decoding bytes can result in errors, especially if the data is encoded in a different format than what we expect. We can handle these errors by specifying the errors argument in the decode() method.

In the above example, we have a bytes object that contains binary data that cannot be decoded using the UTF-8 format. We catch the UnicodeDecodeError exception and use the ignore error handler to ignore the problematic data.


Decoding bytes is an important skill when working with binary data in Python. We learned how to create a bytes object, decode it using the decode() method, and handle encoding errors. By mastering these techniques, you can manipulate and work with binary data using Python more effectively.