AWS Systems Manager
User Guide

AWS Systems Manager Documents

An AWS Systems Manager document (SSM document) defines the actions that Systems Manager performs on your managed instances. Systems Manager includes more than a dozen pre-configured documents that you can use by specifying parameters at runtime. Documents use JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) or YAML, and they include steps and parameters that you specify.

Types of SSM Documents

The following table describes the different types of SSM documents.

Type Use with Details

Command document

Run Command

State Manager

Run Command uses command documents to execute commands. State Manager uses command documents to apply a configuration. These actions can be run on one or more targets at any point during the lifecycle of an instance,

Policy document

State Manager

Policy documents enforce a policy on your targets. If the policy document is removed, the policy action (for example, collecting inventory) no longer happens.

Automation document


Use automation documents when performing common maintenance and deployment tasks such as creating or updating an Amazon Machine Image (AMI).

Package document


In Distributor, a package is represented by a Systems Manager document. A package document includes attached ZIP archive files that contain software or assets to install on managed instances. Creating a package in Distributor creates the package document.

SSM Document Versions and Execution

You can create and save different versions of documents. You can then specify a default version for each document. The default version of a document can be updated to a newer version or reverted to an older version of the document. When you change the content of a document, Systems Manager automatically increments the version of the document. You can retrieve and use previous versions of a document.

Customizing a Document

If you want to customize the steps and actions in a document, you can create your own. The first time you use a document to perform an action on an instance, the system stores the document with your AWS account. For more information about how to create a Systems Manager document, see Creating Systems Manager Documents.

Tagging a Document

You can tag your documents to help you quickly identify one or more documents based on the tags you've assigned to them. For example, you can tag documents for specific environments, departments, users, groups, or periods. You can also restrict access to documents by creating an IAM policy that specifies the tags that a user or group can access. For more information, see Tagging Systems Manager Documents.

Sharing a Document

You can make your documents public or share them with specific AWS accounts. For more information, see Sharing Systems Manager Documents.

SSM Document Limits

For information about SSM document limits, see AWS Systems Manager Limits.