Configuring the AWS CLI - AWS Command Line Interface

Configuring the AWS CLI

This section explains how to configure the settings that the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) uses to interact with AWS. These include your security credentials, the default output format, and the default AWS Region.


AWS requires that all incoming requests are cryptographically signed. The AWS CLI does this for you. The "signature" includes a date/time stamp. Therefore, you must ensure that your computer's date and time are set correctly. If you don't, and the date/time in the signature is too far off of the date/time recognized by the AWS service, AWS rejects the request.

Quickly Configuring the AWS CLI

For general use, the aws configure command is the fastest way to set up your AWS CLI installation. The following example shows sample values. Replace them with your own values as described in the following sections.

$ aws configure AWS Access Key ID [None]: AKIAIOSFODNN7EXAMPLE AWS Secret Access Key [None]: wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY Default region name [None]: us-west-2 Default output format [None]: json

When you enter this command, the AWS CLI prompts you for four pieces of information (access key, secret access key, AWS Region, and output format). These are described in the following sections. The AWS CLI stores this information in a profile (a collection of settings) named default. The information in the default profile is used any time you run an AWS CLI command that doesn't explicitly specify a profile to use.

Access Key and Secret Access Key

The AWS Access Key ID and AWS Secret Access Key are your AWS credentials. They are associated with an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user or role that determines what permissions you have. For a tutorial on how to create a user with the IAM service, see Creating Your First IAM Admin User and Group in the IAM User Guide.

Access keys consist of an access key ID and secret access key, which are used to sign programmatic requests that you make to AWS. If you don't have access keys, you can create them from the AWS Management Console. As a best practice, do not use the AWS account root user access keys for any task where it's not required. Instead, create a new administrator IAM user with access keys for yourself.

The only time that you can view or download the secret access key is when you create the keys. You cannot recover them later. However, you can create new access keys at any time. You must also have permissions to perform the required IAM actions. For more information, see Permissions Required to Access IAM Resources in the IAM User Guide.

To create access keys for an IAM user

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the IAM console at

  2. In the navigation pane, choose Users.

  3. Choose the name of the user whose access keys you want to create, and then choose the Security credentials tab.

  4. In the Access keys section, choose Create access key.

  5. To view the new access key pair, choose Show. You will not have access to the secret access key again after this dialog box closes. Your credentials will look something like this:


    • Secret access key: wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY

  6. To download the key pair, choose Download .csv file. Store the keys in a secure location. You will not have access to the secret access key again after this dialog box closes.

    Keep the keys confidential in order to protect your AWS account and never email them. Do not share them outside your organization, even if an inquiry appears to come from AWS or No one who legitimately represents Amazon will ever ask you for your secret key.

  7. After you download the .csv file, choose Close. When you create an access key, the key pair is active by default, and you can use the pair right away.

Related topics


The Default region name identifies the AWS Region whose servers you want to send your requests to by default. This is typically the Region closest to you, but it can be any Region. For example, you can type us-west-2 to use US West (Oregon). This is the Region that all later requests are sent to, unless you specify otherwise in an individual command.


You must specify an AWS Region when using the AWS CLI, either explicitly or by setting a default Region. For a list of the available Regions, see Regions and Endpoints. The Region designators used by the AWS CLI are the same names that you see in AWS Management Console URLs and service endpoints.

Output Format

The Default output format specifies how the results are formatted. The value can be any of the values in the following list. If you don't specify an output format, json is used as the default.

  • json – The output is formatted as a JSON string.

  • yaml – The output is formatted as a YAML string. (Available in the AWS CLI version 2 only.)

  • text – The output is formatted as multiple lines of tab-separated string values. This can be useful to pass the output to a text processor, like grep, sed, or awk.

  • table – The output is formatted as a table using the characters +|- to form the cell borders. It typically presents the information in a "human-friendly" format that is much easier to read than the others, but not as programmatically useful.

Creating Multiple Profiles

If you use the command shown in the previous section, the result is a single profile named default. You can create additional configurations that you can refer to with a name by specifying the --profile option and assigning a name. The following example creates a profile named produser. You can specify credentials from a completely different account and Region than the other profiles.

$ aws configure --profile produser AWS Access Key ID [None]: AKIAI44QH8DHBEXAMPLE AWS Secret Access Key [None]: je7MtGbClwBF/2Zp9Utk/h3yCo8nvbEXAMPLEKEY Default region name [None]: us-east-1 Default output format [None]: text

Then, when you run a command, you can omit the --profile option and use the credentials and settings stored in the default profile.

$ aws s3 ls

Or you can specify a --profile profilename and use the credentials and settings stored under that name.

$ aws s3 ls --profile produser

To update any of your settings, simply run aws configure again (with or without the --profile parameter, depending on which profile you want to update) and enter new values as appropriate. The next sections contain more information about the files that aws configure creates, additional settings, and named profiles.

Configuration Settings and Precedence

The AWS CLI uses a set of credential providers to look for AWS credentials. Each credential provider looks for credentials in a different place, such as the system or user environment variables, local AWS configuration files, or explicitly declared on the command line as a parameter. The AWS CLI looks for credentials and configuration settings by invoking the providers in the following order, stopping when it finds a set of credentials to use:

  1. Command line options – You can specify --region, --output, and --profile as parameters on the command line.

  2. Environment variables – You can store values in the environment variables: AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID, AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY, and AWS_SESSION_TOKEN. If they are present, they are used.

  3. CLI credentials file – This is one of the files that is updated when you run the command aws configure. The file is located at ~/.aws/credentials on Linux or macOS, or at C:\Users\USERNAME\.aws\credentials on Windows. This file can contain the credential details for the default profile and any named profiles.

  4. CLI configuration file – This is another file that is updated when you run the command aws configure. The file is located at ~/.aws/config on Linux or macOS, or at C:\Users\USERNAME\.aws\config on Windows. This file contains the configuration settings for the default profile and any named profiles.

  5. Container credentials – You can associate an IAM role with each of your Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) task definitions. Temporary credentials for that role are then available to that task's containers. For more information, see IAM Roles for Tasks in the Amazon Elastic Container Service Developer Guide.

  6. Instance profile credentials – You can associate an IAM role with each of your Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. Temporary credentials for that role are then available to code running in the instance. The credentials are delivered through the Amazon EC2 metadata service. For more information, see IAM Roles for Amazon EC2 in the Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances and Using Instance Profiles in the IAM User Guide.