Named profiles - AWS Command Line Interface

Named profiles

A named profile is a collection of settings and credentials that you can apply to a AWS CLI command. When you specify a profile to run a command, the settings and credentials are used to run that command. You can specify one default profile that is used when no profile is explicitly referenced. Other profiles have names that you can specify as a parameter on the command line for individual commands. Alternatively, you can specify a profile in an environment variable (AWS_PROFILE) which essentially overrides the default profile for commands that run in that session.

The AWS CLI supports using any of multiple named profiles that are stored in the config and credentials files. You can configure additional profiles by using aws configure with the --profile option, or by adding entries to the config and credentials files.

The following example shows a credentials file with two profiles. The first [default] is used when you run a AWS CLI command with no profile. The second is used when you run a AWS CLI command with the --profile user1 parameter.

~/.aws/credentials (Linux & Mac) or %USERPROFILE%\.aws\credentials (Windows)

[default] aws_access_key_id=AKIAIOSFODNN7EXAMPLE aws_secret_access_key=wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY [user1] aws_access_key_id=AKIAI44QH8DHBEXAMPLE aws_secret_access_key=je7MtGbClwBF/2Zp9Utk/h3yCo8nvbEXAMPLEKEY

Each profile can specify different credentials—perhaps from different IAM users—and can also specify different AWS Regions and output formats.

~/.aws/config (Linux & Mac) or %USERPROFILE%\.aws\config (Windows)

[default] region=us-west-2 output=json [profile user1] region=us-east-1 output=text

The credentials file uses a different naming format than the AWS CLI config file for named profiles. Include the prefix word "profile" only when configuring a named profile in the config file. Do not use the word profile when creating an entry in the credentials file.

Using profiles with the AWS CLI

To use a named profile, add the --profile profile-name option to your command. The following example lists all of your Amazon EC2 instances using the credentials and settings defined in the user1 profile from the previous example files.

$ aws ec2 describe-instances --profile user1

To use a named profile for multiple commands, you can avoid specifying the profile in every command by setting the AWS_PROFILE environment variable at the command line.

Linux or macOS

$ export AWS_PROFILE=user1


C:\> setx AWS_PROFILE user1

Using set to set an environment variable changes the value used until the end of the current command prompt session, or until you set the variable to a different value.

Using setx to set an environment variable changes the value in all command shells that you create after running the command. It does not affect any command shell that is already running at the time you run the command. Close and restart the command shell to see the effects of the change.

Setting the environment variable changes the default profile until the end of your shell session, or until you set the variable to a different value. You can make environment variables persistent across future sessions by putting them in your shell's startup script. For more information, see Environment variables to configure the AWS CLI.


If you specify a profile with --profile on an individual command, that overrides the setting specified in the environment variable for only that command.