Using packages-lists


This feature is experimental and subject to breaking changes. See the Conan stability section for more information.

Packages lists are a powerful and convenient Conan feature that allows to automate and concatenate different Conan commands. Let’s see some common use cases:

Listing packages and downloading them

A first simple use case could be listing some recipes and/or binaries in a server, and then downloading them.

We can do any conan list, for example, to list all zlib versions above 1.2.11, the latest recipe revision, all Windows binaries for that latest recipe revision, and finally the latest package revision for every binary. Note that if we want to actually download something later, it is necessary to specify the latest package revision, otherwise only the recipes will be downloaded.

$ conan list "zlib/[>1.2.11]#latest:*#latest" -p os=Windows --format=json -r=conancenter > pkglist.json

The output of the command is sent in json format to the file pkglist.json that looks like:

pkglist.json (simplified)
"conancenter": {
    "zlib/1.2.12": {
        "revisions": {
            "b1fd071d8a2234a488b3ff74a3526f81": {
                "timestamp": 1667396813.987,
                "packages": {
                    "ae9eaf478e918e6470fe64a4d8d4d9552b0b3606": {
                        "revisions": {
                            "19808a47de859c2408ffcf8e5df1fdaf": {
                        "info": {
                            "settings": {
                                "arch": "x86_64",
                                "os": "Windows"
    "zlib/1.2.13": {

The first level in the pkglist.json is the “origin” remote or “Local Cache” if the list happens in the cache. In this case, as we listed the packages in conancenter remote, that will be the origin.

We can now do a download of these recipes and binaries with a single conan download invocation:

$ conan download --list=pkglist.json -r=conancenter
# Download the recipes and binaries in pkglist.json
# And displays a report of the downloaded things

Downloading from one remote and uploading to a different remote

Let’s say that we create a new package list from the packages downloaded in the previous step:

$ conan download --list=pkglist.json -r=conancenter --format=json > downloaded.json
# Download the recipes and binaries in pkglist.json
# And stores the result in "downloaded.json"

The resulting downloaded.json will be almost the same as the pkglist.json file, but in this case, the “origin” of those packages is the "Local Cache" (as the downloaded packages will be in the cache):

downloaded.json (simplified)
"Local Cache": {
        "zlib/1.2.12": {
            "revisions": {

That means that we can now upload this same set of recipes and binaries to a different remote:

$ conan upload --list=downloaded.json -r=myremote -c
# Upload those artifacts to the same remote


Best practices

This would be a slow mechanism to run promotions between different server repositories. Servers like Artifactory provide ways to directly copy packages from one repository to another without using a client, that are orders of magnitude faster because of file deduplication, so that would be the recommended approach. The presented approach in this section might be used for air-gapped environments and other situations in which it is not possible to do a server-to-server copy.

Building and uploading packages

One of the most interesting flows is the one when some packages are being built in the local cache, with a conan create or conan install --build=xxx command. Typically, we would like to upload the locally built packages to the server, so they don’t have to be re-built again by others. But we might want to upload only the built binaries, but not all others transitive dependencies, or other packages that we had previously in our local cache.

It is possible to compute a package list from the output of a conan install, conan create and conan graph info commands. Then, that package list can be used for the upload. Step by step:

First let’s say that we have our own package mypkg/0.1 and we create it:

$ conan new cmake_lib -d name=mypkg -d version=0.1
$ conan create . --format=json > create.json

This will create a json representation of the graph, with information of what packages have been built "binary": "Build":

create.json (simplified)
"graph": {
    "nodes": {
        "0": {
            "ref": "conanfile",
            "id": "0",
            "recipe": "Cli",
            "context": "host",
            "test": false
        "1": {
            "ref": "mypkg/0.1#f57cc9a1824f47af2f52df0dbdd440f6",
            "id": "1",
            "recipe": "Cache",
            "package_id": "2401fa1d188d289bb25c37cfa3317e13e377a351",
            "prev": "75f44d989175c05bc4be2399edc63091",
            "build_id": null,
            "binary": "Build"

We can compute a package list from this file, and then upload those artifacts to the server with:

$ conan list --graph=create.json --graph-binaries=build --format=json > pkglist.json
# Create a pkglist.json with the known list of recipes and binaries built from sources
$ conan upload --list=pkglist.json -r=myremote -c

Removing packages lists

It is also possible to first conan list and create a list of things to remove, and then remove them:

# Removes everything from the cache
$ conan list *#* --format=json > pkglist.json
$ conan remove --list=pkglist.json  -c

Note that in this case, the default patterns are different in list and remove, because of the destructive nature of conan remove:

  • When a recipe is passed to remove like conan remove zlib/1.2.13, it will remove the recipe of zlib/1.2.13 and all of its binaries, because the binaries cannot live without the recipe.
  • When a package_id is passed, like conan remove zlib/1.2.13:package_id, then that specific package_id will be removed, but the recipe will not

Then the pattern to remove everything will be different if we call directly conan remove or if we call first conan list, for example:

# Removes everything from the cache
$ conan remove *
# OR via list, we need to explicitly include all revisions
$ conan list *#* --format=json > pkglist.json
$ conan remove --list=pkglist.json  -c

# Removes only the binaries from the cache (leave recipes)
$ conan remove *:*
# OR via list, we need to explicitly include all revisions
$ conan list *#*:* --format=json > pkglist.json
$ conan remove --list=pkglist.json  -c

For more information see the Reference commands section