Using AWS CLI pagination options - AWS Command Line Interface

Using AWS CLI pagination options

This topic describes the different ways to paginate output from theAWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI).There are primarily two ways to control pagination from the AWS CLI.

Server-side pagination parameters process first and any output is sent to client-side pagination.

Server-side pagination

For commands that can return a large list of items, the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) has three options to control the number of items included in the output when the AWS CLI calls a service's API to populate the list.

  • --page-size

  • --max-items

  • --starting-token

By default, the AWS CLI uses a page size of 1000 and retrieves all available items. For example, if you run aws s3api list-objects on an Amazon S3 bucket that contains 3,500 objects, the AWS CLI makes four calls to Amazon S3, handling the service-specific pagination logic for you in the background and returning all 3,500 objects in the final output.

How to use the --page-size parameter

If you see issues when running list commands on a large number of resources, the default page size of 1000 might be too high. This can cause calls to AWS services to exceed the maximum allowed time and generate a "timed out" error. You can use the --page-size option to specify that the AWS CLI request a smaller number of items from each call to the AWS service. The CLI still retrieves the full list, but performs a larger number of service API calls in the background and retrieves a smaller number of items with each call. This gives the individual calls a better chance of succeeding without a timeout. Changing the page size doesn't affect the output; it affects only the number of API calls that need to be made to generate the output.

$ aws s3api list-objects \ --bucket my-bucket \ --page-size 100 { "Contents": [ ...

How to use the --max-items parameter

To include fewer items at a time in the AWS CLI output, use the --max-items option. The AWS CLI still handles pagination with the service as described previously, but prints out only the number of items at a time that you specify.

$ aws s3api list-objects \ --bucket my-bucket \ --max-items 100 { "NextToken": "eyJNYXJrZXIiOiBudWxsLCAiYm90b190cnVuY2F0ZV9hbW91bnQiOiAxfQ==", "Contents": [ ...

How to use the --starting-token parameter

If the number of items output (--max-items) is fewer than the total number of items returned by the underlying API calls, the output includes a NextToken that you can pass to a subsequent command to retrieve the next set of items. The following example shows how to use the NextToken value returned by the previous example, and enables you to retrieve the second 100 items.


The parameter --starting-token cannot be null or empty. If the previous command does not return a NextToken value, there are no more items to return and you do not need to call the command again.

$ aws s3api list-objects \ --bucket my-bucket \ --max-items 100 \ --starting-token eyJNYXJrZXIiOiBudWxsLCAiYm90b190cnVuY2F0ZV9hbW91bnQiOiAxfQ== { "Contents": [ ...

The specified AWS service might not return items in the same order each time you call. If you specify different values for --page-size and --max-items, you can get unexpected results with missing or duplicated items. To prevent this, use the same number for --page-size and --max-items to sync the AWS CLI pagination with the pagination of the underlying service. You can also retrieve the whole list and perform any necessary paging operations locally.

Client-side pagination

AWS CLI version 2 provides the use of a client-side pager program for output. By default, this feature returns all output through your operating system’s default pager program. Client-side pagination occurs after any server-side pagination you specify.

To disable all use of an external paging program, set the variable to an empty string.

You can specify the output pager in the following two ways:

  • Using the cli_pager option in the config file - The following example sets the default output pager to the less program.

    [default] cli_pager=less

    The following example sets the default to disable the use of a pager.

    [default] cli_pager=
  • Using the AWS_PAGER environment variable - The following example sets the default output pager to the less program.

    Linux or macOS

    $ export AWS_PAGER="less"


    C:\> setx AWS_PAGER "less"

    The following example disables the use of a pager.

    Linux or macOS

    $ export AWS_PAGER=""


    C:\> setx AWS_PAGER ""