I'm using bash shell. I would like to include something in my shell script that can extract the value of a certain key in a JSON string ...

davea$ json='{"id": "abc", "name": "dave"}'

I tried "grep", which failed

davea$ grep -Po '"id":.*?[^\\]",' $json
usage: grep [-abcDEFGHhIiJLlmnOoqRSsUVvwxZ] [-A num] [-B num] [-C[num]]
    [-e pattern] [-f file] [--binary-files=value] [--color=when]
    [--context[=num]] [--directories=action] [--label] [--line-buffered]
    [--null] [pattern] [file ...]

Then I found a solution involving Python, but this also failed ...

localhost:tmp davea$ echo $json | python -c 'import json,sys;obj=json.load(sys.stdin);print obj["id"]'
  File "<string>", line 1
    import json,sys;obj=json.load(sys.stdin);print obj["id"]

How can I extract the value for the "id" key without installing anything extra on my system?

  • Install jq or json or don't work with JSON data.
    – jesse_b
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 15:40
  • 1
    Your python code works well for python2.x, and should work for python3 if you put brackets around the print argument.
    – pLumo
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 15:45
  • @pLumo -- that was the issue, I had Python 3 installed but the code I was using was Python 2.
    – Dave
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 15:47
  • Your title says you want to use the bash shell, but your examples uses grep and python. Would it be ok to update the title?
    – Kusalananda
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


Your python code works well. Be aware that you might need brackets around the argument to print if you use python3.

echo "$json" | python2 -c 'import json,sys;obj=json.load(sys.stdin);print obj["id"]'

echo "$json" | python3 -c 'import json,sys;obj=json.load(sys.stdin);print(obj["id"])'

Alternatively, use jq:

echo "$json" | jq -r .id

Output for all solutions above:


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