AWS Command Line Interface
User Guide

What Is the AWS Command Line Interface?


On January 10th, 2020, AWS CLI version 1.17 and later will no longer support Python 2.6 or Python 3.3. After this date, the installer for the AWS CLI will require Python 2.7, Python 3.4, or a later version to successfully install the AWS CLI. For more information, see Using the AWS CLI version 1 with Python 2.6 or Python 3.3 in this guide, and the deprecation announcement in this blog post.

The AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) is an open source tool that enables you to interact with AWS services using commands in your command-line shell.

The AWS CLI is available in two versions:

  • Version 1.x – The generally available version of the AWS CLI that is suitable for use in production environments.

  • Version 2.x – A preview version of the AWS CLI that is intended for testing and evaluation. This version does include some "breaking" changes that might require you to change your scripts so that they continue to operate as you expect. For a list of new features and breaking changes in version 2, see Migrating from AWS CLI version 1 to version 2.

Information in this guide applies to both versions unless we specifically state that it applies to only one version or the other.

With minimal configuration, the AWS CLI enables you to start running commands that implement functionality equivalent to that provided by the browser-based AWS Management Console from the command prompt in your favorite terminal program:

  • Linux shells – Use common shell programs such as bash, zsh, and tcsh to run commands in Linux or macOS.

  • Windows command line – On Windows, run commands at the Windows command prompt or in PowerShell.

  • Remotely – Run commands on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances through a remote terminal program such as PuTTY or SSH, or with AWS Systems Manager.

All IaaS (infrastructure as a service) AWS administration, management, and access functions in the AWS Management Console are available in the AWS API and CLI. New AWS IaaS features and services provide full AWS Management Console functionality through the API and CLI at launch or within 180 days of launch.

The AWS CLI provides direct access to the public APIs of AWS services. You can explore a service's capabilities with the AWS CLI, and develop shell scripts to manage your resources. Or, you can take what you learn to develop programs in other languages by using the AWS SDKs.

In addition to the low-level, API-equivalent commands, several AWS services provide customizations for the AWS CLI. Customizations can include higher-level commands that simplify using a service with a complex API. For example, the aws s3 commands provide a familiar syntax for managing files in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

Example Upload a file to Amazon S3

aws s3 cp provides a shell-like copy command, and automatically performs a multipart upload to transfer large files quickly and resiliently.

$ aws s3 cp myvideo.mp4 s3://mybucket/

Performing the same task with the low-level commands (available under aws s3api) would take a lot more effort.

Depending on your use case, you might want to choose one of the AWS SDKs or the AWS Tools for PowerShell:

You can view—and fork—the source code for the AWS CLI on GitHub in the aws-cli repository. Join the community of users on GitHub to provide feedback, request features, and submit your own contributions!

Using the Examples

The examples in this guide are formatted using the following conventions:

  • Prompt – The command prompt is typically displayed as a dollar sign followed by a space ($ ). For commands that are Windows specific, C:\> is used as the prompt. Do not include the prompt when you type commands.

  • Directory – When commands must be executed from a specific directory, the directory name is shown before the prompt symbol.

  • User input – Command text that you should enter at the command line is formatted as user input.

  • Replaceable text – Variable text, including names of resources that you choose, or IDs generated by AWS services that you must include in commands, is formatted as replaceable text. In multiple-line commands or commands where specific keyboard input is required, keyboard commands can also be shown as replaceable text.

  • Output – Output returned by AWS services is shown under user input, and is formatted as computer output.

For example, the following command includes user input, replaceable text, and output.

$ 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]: ENTER

To use this example, enter aws configure at the command line, and then press Enter. The command is aws configure. This command is interactive, so the AWS CLI outputs lines of text, prompting you to enter additional information. Enter each of your access keys in turn, and then press Enter. Then, enter an AWS Region name in the format shown, press Enter, and then press Enter a final time to skip the output format setting. The final Enter command is shown as replaceable text because there is no user input for that line. Otherwise, it would be implied.

The following example shows a simple noninteractive command with output from the service in JSON format.

$ aws ec2 create-security-group --group-name my-sg --description "My security group" { "GroupId": "sg-903004f8" }

To use this example, enter the full text of the command (the highlighted text after the prompt), and then press Enter. The name of the security group, my-sg, is replaceable. You can use the group name as shown, but you probably want to use a more descriptive name.


Arguments that must be replaced (such as AWS Access Key ID), and those that should be replaced (such as group name), are both shown as replaceable text in italics. If an argument must be replaced, it's noted in the text that describes the example.

The JSON document, including the curly braces, is output. If you configure your CLI to output in text or table format, the output will be formatted differently. JSON is the default output format.

About Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a collection of digital infrastructure services that developers can leverage when developing their applications. The services include computing, storage, database, and application synchronization (messaging and queuing). AWS uses a pay-as-you-go service model. You are charged only for the services that you—or your applications—use. Also, to make AWS more approachable as a platform for prototyping and experimentation, AWS offers a free usage tier. On this tier, services are free below a certain level of usage. For more information about AWS costs and the Free Tier, see Test-Driving AWS in the Free Usage Tier. To obtain an AWS account, open the AWS home page and then click Sign Up.