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AWS Command Line Interface
User Guide

Using Key Pairs

You can use the AWS CLI to create, display, and delete your key pairs. You must specify a key pair when you launch and connect to an Amazon EC2 instance.

Note

Before you try the example commands, set your default credentials.

Creating a Key Pair

To create a key pair named MyKeyPair, use the create-key-pair command, and use the --query option and the --output text option to pipe your private key directly into a file.

$ aws ec2 create-key-pair --key-name MyKeyPair --query 'KeyMaterial' --output text > MyKeyPair.pem

Note that for Windows PowerShell, the > file redirection defaults to UTF-8 encoding, which cannot be used with some SSH clients. So, you must explicitly specify ASCII encoding in the out-file command.

> aws ec2 create-key-pair --key-name MyKeyPair --query 'KeyMaterial' --output text | out-file -encoding ascii -filepath MyKeyPair.pem

The resulting MyKeyPair.pem file looks like this:

-----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----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=
-----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----

Your private key is not stored in AWS and can only be retrieved when it is created.

If you're using an SSH client on a Linux computer to connect to your instance, use the following command to set the permissions of your private key file so that only you can read it.

$ chmod 400 MyKeyPair.pem

Displaying Your Key Pair

A fingerprint is generated from your key pair, and you can use it to verify that the private key that you have on your local machine matches the public key that's stored in AWS. The fingerprint is an SHA1 hash taken from a DER encoded copy of the private key. This value is stored in AWS and can be viewed in the EC2 management console or by calling aws ec2 describe-key-pairs. For example, you can view the fingerprint for MyKeyPair by using the following command:

$ aws ec2 describe-key-pairs --key-name MyKeyPair
{
    "KeyPairs": [
        {
            "KeyName": "MyKeyPair",
            "KeyFingerprint": "1f:51:ae:28:bf:89:e9:d8:1f:25:5d:37:2d:7d:b8:ca:9f:f5:f1:6f"
        }
    ]
}

For more information on keys and fingerprints, see the Amazon EC2 Key Pairs page in the Amazon EC2 User Guide.

Deleting Your Key Pair

To delete MyKeyPair, use the delete-key-pair command as follows:

$ aws ec2 delete-key-pair --key-name MyKeyPair