Extract keys using JQ

This article was published 4 years ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some concepts may no longer be applicable.

Given the following input data, I needed to extract the key and the value of foo, returning it as a key/value object

  "something": {
    "Identifying Key": {
      "foo": "a.b.c",
      "bar": "First Three"
    "Another Key": {
      "foo": "z.b.d",
      "bar": "Second Three, Take Two"

The first thing to do was to step in to the wrapper, something.

cat data.json | jq '.something'

Next, we convert to a structure we can select data from by using to_entries, and unwrap it from it’s array by removing the []

cat data.json | jq '.something | to_entries[]'

You can create JSON structures using jq by using braces and providing keys

cat data.json | jq '.something | to_entries[] | {"key": .key, "value": .value.foo}'

Finally, we can zip this up so that it becomes a key/value object like we started with. To do this, we need to wrap our return data with square brackets so that it becomes a list again:

cat data.json | jq '[.something | to_entries[] | {"key": .key, "value": .value.foo}]'

Then we use the from_entries function to remove the key and value keys, zipping them up in to an object. This does the opposite of to_entries

cat data.json | jq '[.something | to_entries[] | {"key": .key, "value": .value.foo}] | from_entries'

This gives us the following output:

  "Identifying Key": "a.b.c",
  "Another Key": "z.b.d"

Thoughts on this post

mrzool 2017-12-03

Thanks a lot for this, Michael.

Gordon McCreight 2017-12-27

Thanks for taking the time to write this up, Michael. It mapped very closely to my problem, and helped me resolve it.

kjhkjhkhlkjhkjh 2018-04-04

exactly what I want

Thank you.

emenezes 2018-07-20

very hand and clear. Congratulations.

Bao Tran 2018-09-20

Thank you!

xdu 2018-10-19

Very well explained! thank you very much!

andrea 2019-01-27

Great perspective. Thanks!

Elmer Rivera 2019-05-17

Thanks for this!

nazik 2019-09-10

Thanks. Nicely explained.

Matt Alexander 2019-09-12

This helped me today. Thanks.

Sureya Sathiamoorthi 2019-12-08

Many thanks for this tutorial. This is exactly what I was looking for and it took me an hour to come across this. Very helpful thanks!

Sarang Ardhapurkar 2020-01-04

Thank you. This snippet was really useful.

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