I'm creating a legend in my print composer and only want "visible", or active, layers shown in the legend. This means I want only layers with the box checked in my layers panel.

Here is how I create my legend.

legend = QgsLayoutItemLegend(layout)

Looking at the documentation for QgsLayoutItemLegend there is a method: setLegendFilterByMapEnabled() whose description is: enter image description here

This leads me to believe if I do something like:


My legend will only include "active" layers. But my legend still includes all layers, active and inactive.

What am I missing?

1 Answer 1


You need to link the legend item to a map item in your layout which is an instance of the QgsLayoutItemMap class. So if you have done something like:

map = QgsLayoutItemMap(layout)

link it with the legend before enabling the filtering:

legend.setLinkedMap(map) # pass a QgsLayoutItemMap object

Alternatively, to collect checked layers from the project layer tree view and add those to your layout legend, you could do something like this:

lyrs_to_add = [l for l in QgsProject().instance().layerTreeRoot().children() if l.isVisible()]
legend = QgsLayoutItemLegend(layout)
group = legend.model().rootGroup()
for l in lyrs_to_add:
    if l.nodeType() == 0:
        subgroup = group.addGroup(l.name())
        checked = l.checkedLayers()
        for c in checked:
    elif l.nodeType() == 1:

This will maintain groups etc. but unfortunately it won't filter unchecked nodes for categorized or graduated layers (I still can't work out how to do that).

  • I completely misunderstood setLegendFilterByMapEnabled() so thank you for explaining that method. Also, this is amazing. You have really helped me out recently! Two questions I have: in your checked_lyrs list comprehension line, where did you get the .children() method from? I don't see it as a method in the QgsLayerTree class. I understand the children are the items in the Layer Tree. Or is this a generic method I can call on any object that contains multiple items? The same applies to: root.addLayer(lyr). Shouldn't .addLayer be a method of QgsLayerTree? Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 15:44
  • Another question: in the legend.model().setRootGroup() line. .model is a method of QgsLayoutItemLegend class which "returns the legend model" (that isn't very descriptive). and .setRootGroup is a method of QgsLayerTreeModel class. How can these be chained together like that? Apologies for the questions but I'm just trying to understand as best I can. Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 15:47
  • 1
    No problem @Erich Purpur. All your questions above which are causing your confusion are answered by class inheritance. I you look at the API Docs for a class (I find the C++ docs are actually more helpful for this), often you will see an inheritance diagram. Many classes inherit attributes and methods from other classes. So calling .children() on a QgsLayerTree object is possible because it is an inherited method from the QgsLayerTreeNode class. Likewise, addLayer() is an inherited method from QgsLayerTreeGroup and setRootGroup() is inherited from the QgsLayerTreeModel class
    – Ben W
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 0:57
  • 1
    Link to C++ Docs: qgis.org/api/annotated.html Example of class inheritance diagram: qgis.org/api/classQgsLayerTree.html Also, if you scroll down the documentation you will often see the "Additional Inherited Members" for a class.
    – Ben W
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 1:01
  • Great, thanks again. I've been looking only at the python documentation. I'll be sure to reference the c++ documentation in the future. Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 13:06

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