AWS Command Line Interface
User Guide

Create, Display, and Delete Amazon EC2 Key Pairs

You can use the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) to create, display, and delete your key pairs for Amazon EC2. You use key pairs to connect to an Amazon EC2 instance.

You must provide the key pair to Amazon EC2 when you create the instance, and then use that key pair to authenticate when you connect to the instance.

Note

The following examples assume that you have already configured your default credentials.

Creating a Key Pair

To create a key pair, use the create-key-pair command with 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

For PowerShell, the > file redirection defaults to UTF-8 encoding, which cannot be used with some SSH clients. So, you must convert the output by piping it to the out-file command and explicitly set the encoding to ascii.

PS C:\>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 similar to the following.

-----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY----- EXAMPLEKEYKCAQEAy7WZhaDsrA1W3mRlQtvhwyORRX8gnxgDAfRt/gx42kWXsT4rXE/b5CpSgie/ vBoU7jLxx92pNHoFnByP+Dc21eyyz6CvjTmWA0JwfWiW5/akH7iO5dSrvC7dQkW2duV5QuUdE0QW Z/aNxMniGQE6XAgfwlnXVBwrerrQo+ZWQeqiUwwMkuEbLeJFLhMCvYURpUMSC1oehm449ilx9X1F G50TCFeOzfl8dqqCP6GzbPaIjiU19xX/azOR9V+tpUOzEL+wmXnZt3/nHPQ5xvD2OJH67km6SuPW oPzev/D8V+x4+bHthfSjR9Y7DvQFjfBVwHXigBdtZcU2/wei8D/HYwIDAQABAoIBAGZ1kaEvnrqu /uler7vgIn5m7lN5LKw4hJLAIW6tUT/fzvtcHK0SkbQCQXuriHmQ2MQyJX/0kn2NfjLV/ufGxbL1 mb5qwMGUnEpJaZD6QSSs3kICLwWUYUiGfc0uiSbmJoap/GTLU0W5Mfcv36PaBUNy5p53V6G7hXb2 bahyWyJNfjLe4M86yd2YK3V2CmK+X/BOsShnJ36+hjrXPPWmV3N9zEmCdJjA+K15DYmhm/tJWSD9 81oGk9TopEp7CkIfatEATyyZiVqoRq6k64iuM9JkA3OzdXzMQexXVJ1TLZVEH0E7bhlY9d8O1ozR oQs/FiZNAx2iijCWyv0lpjE73+kCgYEA9mZtyhkHkFDpwrSM1APaL8oNAbbjwEy7Z5Mqfql+lIp1 YkriL0DbLXlvRAH+yHPRit2hHOjtUNZh4Axv+cpg09qbUI3+43eEy24B7G/Uh+GTfbjsXsOxQx/x p9otyVwc7hsQ5TA5PZb+mvkJ5OBEKzet9XcKwONBYELGhnEPe7cCgYEA06Vgov6YHleHui9kHuws ayav0elc5zkxjF9nfHFJRry21R1trw2Vdpn+9g481URrpzWVOEihvm+xTtmaZlSp//lkq75XDwnU WA8gkn6O3QE3fq2yN98BURsAKdJfJ5RL1HvGQvTe10HLYYXpJnEkHv+Unl2ajLivWUt5pbBrKbUC gYBjbO+OZk0sCcpZ29sbzjYjpIddErySIyRX5gV2uNQwAjLdp9PfN295yQ+BxMBXiIycWVQiw0bH oMo7yykABY7Ozd5wQewBQ4AdSlWSX4nGDtsiFxWiI5sKuAAeOCbTosy1s8w8fxoJ5Tz1sdoxNeGs Arq6Wv/G16zQuAE9zK9vvwKBgF+09VI/1wJBirsDGz9whVWfFPrTkJNvJZzYt69qezxlsjgFKshy WBhd4xHZtmCqpBPlAymEjr/TOlbxyARmXMnIOWIAnNXMGB4KGSyl1mzSVAoQ+fqR+cJ3d0dyPl1j jjb0Ed/NY8frlNDxAVHE8BSkdsx2f6ELEyBKJSRr9snRAoGAMrTwYneXzvTskF/S5Fyu0iOegLDa NWUH38v/nDCgEpIXD5Hn3qAEcju1IjmbwlvtW+nY2jVhv7UGd8MjwUTNGItdb6nsYqM2asrnF3qS VRkAKKKYeGjkpUfVTrW0YFjXkfcrR/V+QFL5OndHAKJXjW7a4ejJLncTzmZSpYzwApc= -----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----

Your private key isn't stored in AWS and can be retrieved only when it's created. You can't recover it later. Instead, if you lose the private key, you must create a new key pair.

If you're connecting to your instance from a Linux computer, we recommend that you 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 captured when the key pair is created, and is stored in AWS with the public key. You can view the fingerprint in the Amazon EC2 console or by running the AWS CLI command aws ec2 describe-key-pairs.

The following example displays the fingerprint for MyKeyPair.

$ 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 about keys and fingerprints, see Amazon EC2 Key Pairs in the Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances.

Deleting Your Key Pair

To delete a key pair, run the following command, substituting MyKeyPair with the name of the pair to delete.

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