SearchCursor (arcpy.da)


SearchCursor establishes read-only access to the records returned from a feature class or table.

Returns an iterator of tuples. The order of values in the tuple matches the order of fields specified by the field_names argument.


Geometry properties can be accessed by specifying the token SHAPE@ in the list of fields.

Search cursors can be iterated using a For loop. Search cursors also support With statements; using a With statement will guarantee close and release of database locks and reset iteration.

The records returned by SearchCursor can be constrained to match attribute criteria and/or spatial criteria.

Accessing full geometry with SHAPE@ is an expensive operation. If only simple geometry information is required, such as the x,y coordinate of a point, use tokens such as SHAPE@XY, SHAPE@Z and SHAPE@M for faster, more efficient access.


arcpy.da.SearchCursor should not to be confused with the arcpy.SearchCursor.


SearchCursor (in_table, field_names, {where_clause}, {spatial_reference}, {explode_to_points}, {sql_clause})
ParameterExplanationData Type

The feature class, layer, table, or table view.


A list (or tuple) of field names. For a single field, you can use a string instead of a list of strings.

Use an asterisk (*) instead of a list of fields if you want to access all fields from the input table (raster and BLOB fields are excluded). However, for faster performance and reliable field order, it is recommended that the list of fields be narrowed to only those that are actually needed.

Raster fields are not supported.

Additional information can be accessed using tokens (such as OID@) in place of field names:

  • SHAPE@XYA tuple of the feature's centroid x,y coordinates.
  • SHAPE@TRUECENTROIDA tuple of the feature's true centroid x,y coordinates.
  • SHAPE@XA double of the feature's x-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@YA double of the feature's y-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@ZA double of the feature's z-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@MA double of the feature's m-value.
  • SHAPE@JSON The esri JSON string representing the geometry.
  • SHAPE@WKBThe well-known binary (WKB) representation for OGC geometry. It provides a portable representation of a geometry value as a contiguous stream of bytes.
  • SHAPE@WKTThe well-known text (WKT) representation for OGC geometry. It provides a portable representation of a geometry value as a text string.
  • SHAPE@A geometry object for the feature.
  • SHAPE@AREAA double of the feature's area.
  • SHAPE@LENGTHA double of the feature's length.
  • OID@The value of the ObjectID field.

SHAPE@JSON, SHAPE@WKB, and SHAPE@WKT tokens were made available at ArcGIS 10.1 Service Pack 1.


An optional expression that limits the records returned. For more information on WHERE clauses and SQL statements, see Building a query expression and Specifying a query in Python.

(The default value is None)


The spatial reference of the feature class. It can be specified with either a SpatialReference object or string equivalent.

(The default value is None)


Deconstruct a feature into its individual points or vertices. If explode_to_points is set to True, a multipoint feature with five points, for example, is represented by five rows.

(The default value is False)


An optional pair of SQL prefix and postfix clauses organized in a list or tuple.

SQL prefix supports None, DISTINCT, and TOP. SQL postfix supports None, ORDER BY, and GROUP BY.

An SQL prefix clause is positioned in the first position and will be inserted between the SELECT keyword and the SELECT COLUMN LIST. The SQL prefix clause is most commonly used for clauses such as DISTINCT or ALL.

An SQL postfix clause is positioned in the second position and will be appended to the SELECT statement, following the where clause. The SQL postfix clause is most commonly used for clauses such as ORDER BY.


This functionality is only available when working with geodatabases. Other data sources do not support it.

(The default value is (None, None))



PropertyExplanationData Type
(Read Only)

A tuple of field names used by the cursor.

The tuple will include all fields (and tokens) specified by the field_names argument. If the field_names argument is set to "*", the fields property will include all fields used by the cursor. When using "*", geometry values will be returned in a tuple of the x,y-coordinates (equivalent to the SHAPE@XY token).


Method Overview

next ()

Returns the next row as a tuple. The order of fields will be returned in the order they were specified when creating the cursor.

reset ()

Resets the cursor back to the first row.


next ()
Return Value
Data TypeExplanation
reset ()

Code Sample

SearchCursor example 1

Use SearchCursor to step through a feature class, printing specific field values and the x,y coordinates of the point.

import arcpy

fc = "c:/data/base.gdb/well"
fields = ["WELL_ID", "WELL_TYPE", "SHAPE@XY"]

# For each row print the WELL_ID and WELL_TYPE fields, and the
#  the feature's x,y coordinates
with arcpy.da.SearchCursor(fc, fields) as cursor:
    for row in cursor:
        print("{0}, {1}, {2}".format(row[0], row[1], row[2]))
SearchCursor example 2

Use SearchCursor to return a set of unique field values.

import arcpy

fc = "c:/data/base.gdb/well"
field = "Diameter"

# Use SearchCursor with list comprehension to return a
#  unique set of values in the specified field
values = [row[0] for row in arcpy.da.SearchCursor(fc, (field))]
uniqueValues = set(values)
SearchCursor example 3

Use SearchCursor to return attributes using tokens.

import arcpy

fc = "c:/data/base.gdb/well"

# For each row print the Object ID field, and use the SHAPE@AREA
#  token to access geometry properties
with arcpy.da.SearchCursor(fc, ("OID@", "SHAPE@AREA")) as cursor:
    for row in cursor:
        print("Feature {0} has an area of {1}".format(row[0], row[1]))
SearchCursor example 4

Use SearchCursor with a where clause to identify features that meet specific criteria.

import arcpy

fc = "c:/base/data.gdb/roads"
class_field = "Road Class"
name_field = "Name"

# Create an expression with proper delimiters
expression = arcpy.AddFieldDelimiters(fc, name_field) + " = 2"

# Create a search cursor using an SQL expression
with arcpy.da.SearchCursor(fc, (class_field, name_field),
                           where_clause=expression) as cursor:
    for row in cursor:
        # Print the name of the residential road
SearchCursor example 5

Use SearchCursor and Python's sorted method to sort rows.

For additional sorting options see Python's Sorting Mini-HOW TO.

import arcpy

fc = "c:/data/base.gdb/well"
f1, f2 = "WELL_ID", "WELL_TYPE"

# Use Python's sorted method to sort rows
for row in sorted(arcpy.da.SearchCursor(fc, [f1, f2])):
    print("{0}, {1}".format(row[0], row[1]))

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