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What is AWS CLI and how to use it?

Last updated on Dec 23,2021 7.3K Views

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AWS is one of the leading cloud providers accounting for 47.8% of the 2018 IaaS public cloud services market share, according to Gartner analysis. AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) is a unified tool to manage AWS Services. Management of multiple AWS Services can be done through CLI and provides the opportunity for automation through scripts. In this article, let’s check out how to use AWS CLI.

The topics covered in this article are:

Prerequisites to Use AWS CLI

The hands-on activity in this blog requires the following pre-requisite to be installed on the system.

  1. Create AWS Account: In order to configure AWS CLI, an AWS account needs to be created if you do not have one. Please register here for the AWS account. The new AWS account includes 12 months of free tier access.
  2. Install AWS CLI: AWS CLI is available for Windows, MAC and Linus distribution of OS.
    • Windows installer: 64 bit and 32-bit.
    • MAC and Linux: Please follow these steps
      1. Install Python 2.6.5 or higher
      2. pip (Package installer for Python) should be installed. Installation steps to be followed.
      3. Run the following command from terminal/command prompt 'pip install awscli' Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

New user creation

Step1: To being with, log in to the AWS management console. In this case, either use an existing AWS account or a newly created account as part of the pre-requisite step.

Step2: After logging in, we are going to land on the AWS Management Console Dashboard.

Step3: Under find services, we are going to enter “IAM” in the text box.

Step4: Now we are in the IAM (Identity and Access Management Console) for AWS. IAM console is the central hub providing the following functionality.

    • AWS resources and services access management.
    • User creation and permission management.

Group creation and management.Step5: Subsequently, we are going to click on the “Users” selection in the left menu bar.

User Permissions

Step1: To begin with, we are going to click Add User in the AWS IAM Dashboard.

Step2: In this case, the users only require access to the API, AWS CLI. The user does not need to access the AWS Management Console. Hence, we are going to select the Programmatic access option.Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

Step3: Next, we are going to provide the user name and select access type as Programmatic access.

Step4: Click on next, after access type is selected.

Step5: Next,  permissions need to be assigned to the new user. Following options are available

  • Add user to an existing group
  • Copy permission from an existing user
  • Attach existing policy directly to the user

Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

Step6: For the existing task, we are going to attach existing policies directly, in this we are going to select the “Administrator Access” policy.
IAM Policy is a complete topic in itself. Therefore,  we are not going to discuss this here but will be a topic for another blog. In brief, what is an IAM Policy

  • IAM Policy defines permissions.
  • Therefore, when policies are associated with an AWS Resource, AWS Resource inherits the permissions defined in the policy.
  • In short, policies are templates for providing permissions.

Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

Step7: After adding the exiting policy, tags can be associated with the resource.

  • In brief, tag is a label assigned to a resource.
  • Each tag consists of a key and an optional value.
  • Using tags, AWS resources can be categorized.

Step8: Click next, and we will end up on the review screen. This is the summary screen for the selection which we have made.
Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

Step9: After all the steps are done, we are going to click on create. As a result, a new user will be created with the username “demouser”.
Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

User Creation Response

  1. On the user creation success screen, two important pieces of information are provided.
    • Access Key ID
    • Secret access key
  2. We are going to store this information securely and will not share this information.
  3. Alternatively, CSV file download file option is available, CSV file contains the details.
  4. Safely store the key or downloaded “CSV” file, as we will not be able to retrieved Secret Access Key again.
  5. Click on close and you will end up on the user dashboard. The newly created user is available now.

You can learn more with the AWS Course.

How to Use AWS CLI?

AWS CLI – Configuration

Step1: Click on the demo user, the pertinent details corresponding to use will be shown.

  • Permissions
  • Groups
  • Tags
  • Security Credentials
  • Access Advisor

Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

Step2: For this blog, we want to use a Security Credentials object, click on the Security Credentials tab.

Step3: Here we see seeing Access Key ID, which was recently created with status marked as “Active”

Step4: In this case, the Access Key status provides an important security feature to the administrators.

Step5: Now we have the user, therefore allowing us access to AWS resources programmatically.

Configuring Terminal/Command Prompt

      1. Log in to the terminal window (“mac”/ Linux”) or command prompt (“Windows”).
      2. Before we can access the AWS resources using CLI (command-line interface), we will need to configure the CLI.
      3. Accordingly, we will run the  following command to configure AWS CLI “aws configure –profile <profile name>”

        AWS Access Key IDCreated as part of new security credentials
        AWS Secret Access KeyCorresponding to the “AWS Access Key” selected.
        Default Region nameAWS regions, we are using us-east-1
        Default Output formatJSON

      4. Now we are all set with the profile.

AWS CLI Test Run

Step1: In this case, we will be using AWS S3 (Simple Storage Service) as an example.

Step2: In brief, AWS S3 is an object storage service.

    • Scalability
    • Data availability
    • Security
    • Performance.

Step3: Next, we are going to run “aws s3 ls --profile mydemouser”

Step4: After listing out the content of the existing bucket, let us try to create a new s3 bucket using AWS CLI
“aws s3 mb s3://mydemouserbucket --profile mydemouser”

Step5: As a result of the command execution, the bucket should be created.Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka

Step6: Furthermore, let us try to create a bucket in a region other than the default region for the CLI profile, in our case the default region is ‘us-east-1’

Step7: After the command has been executed, let us check, if the bucket has been created and what is the region of the bucket.Output - How to Use AWS CLI - Edureka


AWS CLI is an excellent tool not only from the standpoint of administration of AWS resources, but CLI also provides a key insight into how AWS can be accessed programmatically. Key concepts have been introduced, user set up done in IAM, configured the CLI to access the AWS resources. But AWS CLI can do much more. In this blog, we just touched upon accessing them through the console. In the next blog, the focus will be on AWS S3. Stay tuned for more.

If this has spiked your interest and you want to know more about application security, then check out our AWS training in Bangalore which comes with instructor-led live training and real-life project experience. This training will help you understand cybersecurity in-depth and help you achieve mastery over the subject.

Got a question for us? Please mention it in the comments section of “How to Use AWS CLI?” and we will get back to you.

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What is AWS CLI and how to use it?