November 10, 2023

Mastering Boto3 Pagination

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By Andrei Maksimov

November 10, 2023

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Boto3 is the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK for Python, which allows Python developers to write software that makes use of services like Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2. When working with AWS services, you often need to retrieve large sets of data that cannot be delivered in a single response. Boto3 Pagination is a mechanism that handles the process of sending subsequent requests to continue where a previous request left off, commonly known as pagination.

Here are some key points about Boto3 Pagination:

  • Automatic Iteration: A paginator in Boto3 is an iterator that automatically paginates through results, so you don’t have to manually handle the pagination logic.
  • Efficiency: Pagination allows you to efficiently navigate through large datasets by retrieving only a subset of data at a time.
  • Customization: You can customize pagination by specifying the number of items to return in each page (PageSize) and setting a maximum number of items to retrieve (MaxItems).

Understanding how to implement and use pagination is crucial for developers to manage large datasets and optimize the performance of their applications. Throughout this guide, we will delve into the various aspects of Boto3 Pagination, from basic usage to best practices and common issues.

For more detailed information on Boto3 and its features, you can visit the official Boto3 documentation.

Understanding the concept of Pagination in Boto3

When working with AWS services through Boto3, the Python SDK for AWS, you’ll often encounter situations where the amount of data you’re trying to retrieve is too large to be returned in a single response. This is where pagination comes into play. Pagination is a mechanism that allows you to iterate over large datasets by retrieving the data in smaller, more manageable chunks, known as pages.

Why is Pagination Necessary?

  • Limits on Response Size: AWS services typically impose limits on the number of items that can be returned in a single API call to ensure performance and reliability.
  • Efficient Data Retrieval: By breaking down the dataset into pages, pagination reduces the amount of data transferred over the network, leading to more efficient data retrieval.

How Pagination Works in Boto3

  • Paginator Object: Boto3 provides a Paginator object that automatically handles the process of making multiple API calls to retrieve all pages of results.
  • PaginationConfig: You can customize pagination behavior using the PaginationConfig argument, which allows you to specify parameters such as MaxItems and PageSize.
  • Iterating Over Pages: The Paginator object offers an iterator that you can loop over to access the data in each page.

Example of Boto3 Pagination

import boto3
# Create a client
client = boto3.client('s3')
# Create a paginator
paginator = client.get_paginator('list_objects_v2')
# Create a PageIterator from the Paginator
page_iterator = paginator.paginate(Bucket='my-bucket')
for page in page_iterator:
    # Process each page of results
    for item in page['Contents']:

In this example, the list_objects_v2 operation is paginated to retrieve all objects within an S3 bucket. The Paginator handles the details of making the necessary API calls to AWS and provides an easy-to-use interface for iterating over the results.

Understanding pagination is crucial for working effectively with Boto3 and AWS services, as it ensures that you can handle large datasets without overwhelming your application or the AWS service.

Detailed explanation of MaxItems in Boto3 Pagination

When working with AWS services through Boto3, you may encounter situations where you need to process large datasets that cannot be retrieved in a single API call. This is where pagination comes into play. Pagination allows you to retrieve the data in smaller, more manageable chunks. In Boto3, pagination is controlled through various parameters, one of which is MaxItems.

What is MaxItems?

MaxItems is a parameter within the PaginationConfig dictionary that specifies the maximum number of items to be returned in the response. It acts as a threshold to limit the amount of data you receive while iterating through a dataset.

How does MaxItems work?

When you make a paginated request, you can include the MaxItems parameter in your PaginationConfig like so:

paginator = client.get_paginator('list_objects')
page_iterator = paginator.paginate(
    PaginationConfig={'MaxItems': 10}

In this example, the paginator is configured to return a maximum of 10 items. If the total number of items available is greater than MaxItems, the service will provide a NextToken in the response, which you can use in subsequent requests to retrieve the next set of results.

Why use MaxItems?

Using MaxItems can help you manage memory and performance when dealing with large datasets. By fetching smaller subsets of data, you can reduce the load on your application and handle the data more efficiently.

Considerations when using MaxItems

  • Be aware that setting MaxItems does not guarantee that the number of items returned will be equal to the MaxItems value. The actual number returned can be less.
  • If your dataset is large, you may need to handle pagination tokens (NextToken) to iterate through the entire dataset.
  • The MaxItems parameter is not the same as PageSize, which controls the number of items per page rather than the total number of items to return.


Understanding and utilizing the MaxItems parameter is crucial for efficient pagination in Boto3. It allows you to control the volume of data returned by AWS services, ensuring that your applications can handle large datasets effectively. Always refer to the official Boto3 documentation for the most accurate and up-to-date information on pagination and other Boto3 features.

Understanding PageSize in Boto3 Pagination

When working with AWS services through Boto3, you may encounter situations where you need to process large datasets that are too big to be returned in a single API call. This is where pagination comes into play. Pagination allows you to retrieve the data in smaller, more manageable chunks called “pages.” One of the key parameters that control pagination in Boto3 is PageSize.

What is PageSize?

PageSize is an integer value that you can set to specify the maximum number of items to be returned in each page of results. By adjusting the PageSize, you can control the volume of data returned by each API call, which can be particularly useful for managing memory usage and response times in your applications.

How to Use PageSize

When creating a paginator object in Boto3, you can define the PageSize within the PaginationConfig dictionary. Here’s a simple example of how to set the PageSize when using a paginator:

import boto3
# Create a Boto3 client for the desired AWS service
client = boto3.client('service_name')
# Create a paginator object for the desired operation
paginator = client.get_paginator('operation_name')
# Define the pagination configuration with PageSize
response_iterator = paginator.paginate(
        'PageSize': 50  # Set the desired number of items per page
# Iterate through the pages and process the results
for page in response_iterator:
    # Process each page of results

Benefits of Using PageSize

  • Efficiency: Smaller page sizes can reduce the memory footprint of your application and improve response times.
  • Control: You have the ability to fine-tune the data retrieval process based on your application’s needs.
  • Flexibility: You can dynamically adjust the page size in response to different conditions, such as network bandwidth or processing power.


  • Default Values: If you do not specify a PageSize, AWS services often have default page sizes that they will use.
  • Limits: Some AWS services have maximum page size limits that you cannot exceed.

Understanding and utilizing the PageSize parameter is crucial for efficient data retrieval and processing when working with Boto3 pagination. It allows you to tailor your API calls to the specific needs of your application, ensuring that you can handle large datasets effectively.

How to use Boto3 Pagination: A step-by-step guide

Boto3 pagination allows you to iterate over large sets of data returned by AWS services efficiently. Here’s a step-by-step guide to using Boto3 pagination:

  1. Import Boto3 and Create a Client Begin by importing the Boto3 library and creating a client for the AWS service you are interacting with.
import boto3
client = boto3.client('service_name')
  1. Get a Paginator Object Use the get_paginator method on the client to create a paginator object for the operation you want to paginate.
paginator = client.get_paginator('operation_name')
  1. Configure Pagination (Optional) You can optionally configure the pagination by passing a PaginationConfig dictionary to the paginate method.
pagination_config = {
    'MaxItems': 1000,
    'PageSize': 100,
    'StartingToken': 'starting_token'
  1. Iterate Over the Pages Use the paginator to iterate over the pages of results. The paginate method returns an iterator of the pages.
for page in paginator.paginate(PaginationConfig=pagination_config):
    # process items in page
  1. Handle Page Items Each page is a dictionary that contains the items you are interested in. Access and process these items as needed.
for page in paginator.paginate():
    for item in page['Items']:
  1. Resume Pagination (If Needed) If your process is interrupted, you can resume pagination by using the NextToken from the last received page.
next_token = 'token_from_last_page'
for page in paginator.paginate(PaginationConfig={'StartingToken': next_token}):
    # process items in page

Remember to handle any potential exceptions and edge cases, such as reaching the end of the data or dealing with empty responses. For more detailed instructions and examples on the usage of paginators, see the paginators user guide.

Common issues and solutions in Boto3 Pagination

When working with Boto3 Pagination, developers may encounter several common issues. Below are some of these issues along with potential solutions:

  • Issue: Reaching API Rate Limits
    • Solution: Implement exponential backoff and retry strategies to handle API rate limiting. AWS SDKs often include built-in mechanisms to handle retries.
  • Issue: Incomplete Data Retrieval
    • Solution: Ensure that the pagination loop continues until all pages have been processed. Check for a NextToken or equivalent in the response to determine if additional data is available.
  • Issue: Inconsistent Page Sizes
    • Solution: Set a consistent PageSize in the PaginationConfig to control the number of items returned per page.
  • Issue: Handling Large Datasets
    • Solution: Use pagination to process data in chunks rather than attempting to load large datasets into memory all at once.
  • Issue: StartingToken Errors
    • Solution: Validate the StartingToken used in the PaginationConfig to ensure it is correct and has not expired.
  • Issue: Performance Bottlenecks
    • Solution: Optimize the pagination process by adjusting the PageSize and using filters to retrieve only the necessary data.

Please note that while these issues and solutions are common to pagination in general, specific problems and resolutions may vary with Boto3 Pagination. For detailed Boto3 Pagination issues and solutions, refer to the AWS SDK documentation and the Boto3 GitHub repository for the most up-to-date information and community discussions.

Enhancements in Boto3 Pagination

As of the time of writing, there are no specific details available regarding recent enhancements in Boto3 Pagination. However, it is common for libraries like Boto3 to receive updates that improve performance, add new features, or address issues reported by the user community.

Enhancements in software libraries can include:

  • Performance improvements: Making pagination faster and more efficient.
  • New features: Adding additional functionality to the pagination process.
  • Bug fixes: Resolving issues that users have encountered.
  • Improved documentation: Clarifying how to implement and use pagination effectively.

For the most up-to-date information on Boto3 and any potential enhancements to its pagination features, it is recommended to consult the official Boto3 documentation or the GitHub repository where updates and changes are regularly posted by the maintainers.

Understanding the ‘closed-for-staleness’ in Boto3 Pagination

There is currently no information available regarding the term ‘closed-for-staleness’ in the context of Boto3 Pagination. It appears that this term may be related to the management of issues on GitHub repositories rather than a feature of Boto3 Pagination. If you encounter this term in relation to Boto3, it may be a misunderstanding or a miscommunication.

As Boto3 Pagination is a critical feature for efficiently handling large datasets in AWS services, it is important to understand the official mechanisms provided, such as MaxItemsPageSize, and the use of pagination tokens. For accurate and up-to-date information on Boto3 Pagination, please refer to the official Boto3 documentation.

If you have specific questions or issues related to Boto3 Pagination, consider reaching out to the AWS community forums or the Boto3 GitHub repository for support.

How to build a full result in Boto3 Pagination

When working with AWS services through Boto3, you may encounter operations that return paginated results. This is especially common when dealing with large datasets. To build a full result set from these paginated responses, you’ll need to iterate over each page and collect the results. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing so:

  1. Create a client for the AWS service you are interacting with.
import boto3
client = boto3.client('service_name', region_name='your_region')
  1. Create a Paginator object for the operation you want to paginate.
paginator = client.get_paginator('operation_name')
  1. Iterate over the pages using the paginator.
for page in paginator.paginate(YourParametersHere):
    # Process each page
  1. Compile the results from each page into a full result set.
full_results = []
for page in paginator.paginate(YourParametersHere):
    full_results.extend(page['Items'])  # Replace 'Items' with the actual key in the response
  1. Handle any potential issues such as API rate limits or incomplete pages.

Remember to replace 'service_name''your_region''operation_name', and 'YourParametersHere' with the actual values relevant to your AWS service and operation.

By following these steps, you can efficiently navigate through paginated responses and build a complete dataset for further processing or analysis.

For more detailed examples and best practices, refer to the AWS Boto3 documentation on paginators.

Best Practices for Using Boto3 Pagination

When working with AWS services through Boto3, pagination is a critical feature to manage large datasets efficiently. Here are some best practices to ensure you’re using Boto3 pagination effectively:

  • Use Paginator Objects: Boto3 provides paginator objects that simplify the process of iterating over pages of results. Always use these instead of manually handling token passing and request looping.
  • Set Appropriate Page Sizes: Adjust the PageSize parameter to control the number of items each page returns. A smaller page size reduces memory usage and allows for quicker responses, while a larger page size reduces the number of API calls needed.
  • Handle Rate Limiting: Be mindful of the API rate limits. Implement retry mechanisms with exponential backoff to handle throttling.
  • Use MaxItems: If you only need a subset of items, use the MaxItems parameter to limit the number of items returned by the paginator.
  • Check for Truncated Responses: Always check if the response is truncated to know if there are more results to fetch.
  • Efficiently Handle LastEvaluatedKey: When working with services like DynamoDB, use the LastEvaluatedKey to continue from where the last page ended.
  • Avoid Using Access and Secret Keys Directly: For security best practices, use IAM roles and avoid hardcoding credentials in your code.
  • Leverage Lazy Loading: Resource methods often return a generator, allowing you to lazily iterate over results and reduce memory consumption.
  • Customize PaginationConfig: Use the PaginationConfig named argument to customize pagination behavior, such as setting the maximum number of items to retrieve.
  • Understand Service-Specific Nuances: Different AWS services may have unique pagination features. Read the service documentation for any specific considerations.
  • Monitor API Usage: Keep an eye on your API usage to avoid unexpected charges and to ensure your application scales properly.

By following these best practices, you can efficiently navigate large datasets and optimize your use of AWS services with Boto3 pagination.

Case studies of Boto3 Pagination usage

At the time of writing, specific case studies detailing the use of Boto3 Pagination in real-world applications are not readily available. However, Boto3 Pagination is a critical feature for developers working with AWS services, as it allows for efficient navigation through large datasets returned by AWS API calls.

In practice, Boto3 Pagination is often used to handle large volumes of data from services such as Amazon S3, DynamoDB, or EC2, where API responses are paginated to manage and process data in a scalable manner. Developers can iterate over pages of data using paginator objects provided by Boto3, ensuring that applications can handle data retrieval in a way that is both memory-efficient and network-friendly.

While we cannot provide specific case studies, it is clear that Boto3 Pagination plays a vital role in applications that require processing of extensive data from AWS services. It enables developers to build scalable and efficient cloud-based applications by providing tools to navigate through large datasets seamlessly.

For those interested in exploring further, AWS provides documentation and guides on how to implement pagination using Boto3, which can serve as a starting point for understanding its practical applications.

As of now, there is no specific information available about the future trends in Boto3 Pagination. However, it is important to stay updated with AWS announcements and service updates as they can indicate potential enhancements to Boto3 features, including pagination.

AWS continuously evolves its services to meet the growing demands of its users, and Boto3, being the AWS SDK for Python, is no exception. Pagination is a critical feature for efficiently handling large datasets in cloud applications, and as datasets continue to grow in size and complexity, we can anticipate that AWS may introduce improvements to make pagination more efficient and easier to implement.

Key areas to watch for potential future trends include:

  • Performance Improvements: Enhancements that reduce latency and increase the speed of data retrieval.
  • Ease of Use: Simplifications to the API that make it more intuitive for developers to implement pagination.
  • Advanced Filtering: More sophisticated filtering options to allow for finer control over the data returned during pagination.
  • Integration with Other AWS Services: Improved interoperability with other AWS services that may benefit from seamless pagination capabilities.

To stay informed about the latest trends and updates in Boto3 Pagination, it is recommended to follow the AWS Developer Blog and the Boto3 GitHub repository for the latest discussions and release notes.

Comparing Boto3 Pagination with other pagination methods

When working with large datasets, especially in cloud services like AWS, efficient navigation through the data is crucial. Boto3, the Python SDK for AWS, offers a robust solution for handling large amounts of data through pagination. Let’s compare Boto3 Pagination with other common pagination methods:

Boto3 Pagination

  • Automatic Handling: Boto3 provides paginators that automatically handle the details of pagination, simplifying the process for developers.
  • PaginationConfig: Developers can customize pagination using the PaginationConfig parameter, which allows for setting MaxItemsPageSize, and starting tokens.
  • Memory-Efficient: Boto3 paginators can be memory-efficient by using generators to yield items one at a time rather than loading the entire dataset into memory.

Other Pagination Methods

  • Manual Iteration: Some SDKs or APIs require developers to manually handle pagination by tracking page numbers or tokens and making subsequent requests.
  • Fixed Page Sizes: Unlike Boto3’s flexible PageSize, other methods may have fixed page sizes that cannot be adjusted, potentially leading to less efficient data retrieval.
  • NextToken/Offset: Many APIs use a NextToken or offset-based approach, where the developer must pass the token or offset from the previous response to retrieve the next page of results.

Comparison Table

FeatureBoto3 PaginationOther Pagination Methods
Automatic HandlingYesNo (usually manual)
Custom Page SizesYes (PageSize)Often fixed
Memory EfficiencyYes (generators)Varies
Token/Offset ManagementHandled by paginatorManual

In conclusion, Boto3 Pagination offers a more streamlined and developer-friendly approach compared to many other pagination methods. Its automatic handling of pagination details and memory-efficient design make it a strong choice for AWS developers needing to process large datasets.

For more information on Boto3 Pagination, refer to the AWS Boto3 Documentation.


What is Boto3 Pagination?

Boto3 Pagination refers to retrieving a subset of items from an AWS service API call when the total number of items to retrieve is too large to return in a single response.

Why is Pagination important in Boto3?

Pagination is crucial because it allows developers to handle large datasets efficiently without overwhelming the network or the application, ensuring that applications remain responsive and performant.

How do I use Boto3 Pagination?

You can use Boto3 Pagination by creating a paginator object for the desired AWS service method and then iterating over its pages to retrieve all items.

What are MaxItems and PageSize in Boto3 Pagination?

MaxItems is the total number of items to return across all pages, while PageSize determines the number of items per page.

Can I encounter issues with Boto3 Pagination?

Common issues include handling pagination tokens incorrectly, exceeding rate limits, and dealing with incomplete pages.

Are there any enhancements in Boto3 Pagination?

AWS continuously updates Boto3, including enhancements to pagination features. It’s recommended to check the official Boto3 documentation for the latest updates.

What is ‘closed-for-staleness’ in Boto3 Pagination?

‘Closed-for-staleness’ refers to the state of a paginator when it can no longer be used to fetch new pages due to the underlying data changing significantly since the pagination started.

How do I build a full result set using Boto3 Pagination?

To build a full result set, you iterate over each page returned by the paginator and aggregate the results until you have retrieved all items.

What are some best practices for using Boto3 Pagination?

Best practices include checking for ‘Truncated’ flags in responses, using consistent read settings when necessary, and handling exceptions gracefully.

Where can I find case studies on Boto3 Pagination usage?

Case studies can often be found in AWS whitepapers, blog posts, and community forums where developers share their experiences.

What are future trends in Boto3 Pagination?

Future trends may include more advanced pagination features, tighter integration with other AWS services, and improved performance.

How does Boto3 Pagination compare with other pagination methods?

Boto3 Pagination is designed specifically for AWS services and is tightly integrated with the AWS SDK, making it more suitable for AWS applications compared to generic pagination methods.

Where can I find further reading on Boto3 Pagination?

Additional resources can be found in the AWS SDK for Python (Boto3) documentation, AWS blog posts, and technical forums.

Andrei Maksimov

I’m a passionate Cloud Infrastructure Architect with more than 20 years of experience in IT. In addition to the tech, I'm covering Personal Finance topics at

Any of my posts represent my personal experience and opinion about the topic.

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