Listing object keys programmatically - Amazon Simple Storage Service

Listing object keys programmatically

In Amazon S3, keys can be listed by prefix. You can choose a common prefix for the names of related keys and mark these keys with a special character that delimits hierarchy. You can then use the list operation to select and browse keys hierarchically. This is similar to how files are stored in directories within a file system.

Amazon S3 exposes a list operation that lets you enumerate the keys contained in a bucket. Keys are selected for listing by bucket and prefix. For example, consider a bucket named "dictionary" that contains a key for every English word. You might make a call to list all the keys in that bucket that start with the letter "q". List results are always returned in UTF-8 binary order.

Both the SOAP and REST list operations return an XML document that contains the names of matching keys and information about the object identified by each key.


SOAP support over HTTP is deprecated, but SOAP is still available over HTTPS. New Amazon S3 features are not supported for SOAP. Instead of using SOAP, we recommend that you use either the REST API or the AWS SDKs.

Groups of keys that share a prefix terminated by a special delimiter can be rolled up by that common prefix for the purposes of listing. This enables applications to organize and browse their keys hierarchically, much like how you would organize your files into directories in a file system.

For example, to extend the dictionary bucket to contain more than just English words, you might form keys by prefixing each word with its language and a delimiter, such as "French/logical". Using this naming scheme and the hierarchical listing feature, you could retrieve a list of only French words. You could also browse the top-level list of available languages without having to iterate through all the lexicographically intervening keys. For more information about this aspect of listing, see Organizing objects using prefixes.


If your application requires it, you can send REST requests directly. You can send a GET request to return some or all of the objects in a bucket or you can use selection criteria to return a subset of the objects in a bucket. For more information, see GET Bucket (List Objects) Version 2 in the Amazon Simple Storage Service API Reference.

List implementation efficiency

List performance is not substantially affected by the total number of keys in your bucket. It's also not affected by the presence or absence of the prefix, marker, maxkeys, or delimiter arguments.

Iterating through multipage results

As buckets can contain a virtually unlimited number of keys, the complete results of a list query can be extremely large. To manage large result sets, the Amazon S3 API supports pagination to split them into multiple responses. Each list keys response returns a page of up to 1,000 keys with an indicator indicating if the response is truncated. You send a series of list keys requests until you have received all the keys. AWS SDK wrapper libraries provide the same pagination.


The following code examples show how to use ListObjects.


The following example uses the list-objects command to display the names of all the objects in the specified bucket:

<userinput>aws s3api list-objects --bucket <replaceable>text-content</replaceable> --query '<replaceable>Contents[].{Key: Key, Size: Size}</replaceable>'</userinput>

The example uses the --query argument to filter the output of list-objects down to the key value and size for each object

For more information about objects, see Working with Amazon S3 Objects in the Amazon S3 Developer Guide.

  • For API details, see ListObjects in AWS CLI Command Reference.

Tools for PowerShell

Example 1: This command retrieves the information about all of the items in the bucket "test-files".

Get-S3Object -BucketName test-files

Example 2: This command retrieves the information about the item "sample.txt" from bucket "test-files".

Get-S3Object -BucketName test-files -Key sample.txt

Example 3: This command retrieves the information about all items with the prefix "sample" from bucket "test-files".

Get-S3Object -BucketName test-files -KeyPrefix sample
  • For API details, see ListObjects in AWS Tools for PowerShell Cmdlet Reference.