Difference between byte objects and string in Python

Shweta Goyal

There are times when you get confused between byte objects and strings. But there are some differences between them. Let's discuss the difference between them:


Strings are sequences of characters. They are human-readable. They can't be directly stored on the disk, you have to encode them into a machine-readable format that is bytes.

The default for errors is 'strict', meaning that encoding errors raise a UnicodeError.

There are different forms of encoding like PNG, MP3, ASCII, UTF-8, etc. which are used to represent images, audio, text, etc. in bytes. The default technique is UTF-8. Let's take an example to convert a string into bytes:

s = 'Hello world' # Encoding the string into bytes bytes_obj = s.encode('ASCII') print(bytes_obj) # Output: b'Hello world'

In the above example, we have converted the string into bytes using the encode() method. The encode() method takes the encoding type as an argument. Here, b represents the string in bytes in ASCII form. The encode() method returns the bytes object.

Byte Objects

Byte objects are immutable sequences of bytes, that is, integers in the range 0 to 255. Bytes can be directly stored on the disk. They are machine-readable, you have to decode them into a human-readable format which is a string. If you want it back to its original form then you have to decode it.

Let's take an example to convert bytes into strings:

# Byte Object bytes_obj = b'Hello world' # Decoding the bytes into string s = bytes_obj.decode('ASCII') print(s) # Output: 'Hello world'

In the above example, we have converted the bytes into strings using the decode() method. The decode() method takes the encoding type as an argument. Here, ASCII represents the string in ASCII form. The decode() method returns a string.

The byte-like objects can be used in various operations and should be in binary form like file transfer, socket programming, etc.


In this article, you have learned the difference between byte objects and strings in Python. We have also covered the encode() and decode() methods. Encoding and decoding are inverse operations. Before storing the data on a computer, you must first encode it. Before reading the data from a computer, you must first decode it.

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