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Common AWS CLI commands and explanations

I tend to lose track of some of the commands or things I run often and by the time I think to script or alias something, I’ve long sense forgotten it. Then I end up running history | grep -i <some phrase> hoping that it’s in my history. The point of this article is just to document and capture some the common AWS CLI commands that I use pretty often.


Simple Notification Service is something is a backbone for a lot of the Apps I build. Granted I’m spending more and more time with EventBridge but I’ve got so much code that leverages this product, it makes sense to include it.

Below contains

  • Listing all topics
  • Creating a topic
  • Subscribing an SQS to a topic
  • Listing subscriptions
  • Posting a message to a topic
# List topics
aws sns list-topics
# Create topic
aws sns create-topic --name test-topic
# Subscribe
aws sns subscribe --topic-arn arn:aws:sns:us-west-2:123456789012:the-topic --protocol sqs --notification-endpoint http://some-queu-url
# List subscriptions
aws sns list-subscriptions
# Post a message to a Topic
aws sns publish --topic-arn arn:aws:sns:us-west-2:123456789012:topic --message "{\"event\":{\"type\":\"TeamUpdate\",\"id\":1,\"name\":\"New Team Name\"}}"


Simple Queue Service was the first thing that AWS built back I think in 2006. That should tell you that the whole “Event Driven Architecture” that they’ve been pushing really goes back a while. Queues are the backbone of distributed software so this one makes sense.

  • Creating a queue
# Create a queue
aws sqs create-queue --queue-name test_queue


Simple Storage Service (S3) powers so many thing that it is hard to have a list of commands without this service.

# Sync files with a remote bucket
aws s3 sync . s3://[bucket-to-sync]/

# Delete empty bucket
aws s3 rb s3://[bucket-to-delete] --force  

# Copy local directory files to S3 Bucket
aws s3 cp directory  s3://[bucket-to-copy-to] --recursive

# Sync one bucket with another,changing ownership,and encrypting with default S3 encryption (ensure that destination account user has proper permissions in source S3 bucket policy)
aws s3 sync s3://some-bucket/ s3://another-bucket/ --acl bucket-owner-full-control --metadata-directive REPLACE  --sse


The engine that builds Infrastructure from Code.

  • Running a stack with IAM Capabilites
  • Validating the structure of a IaC file
  • Deleting a stack
  • Describing the events that have occurred while running a stack
# Run cloudformation with IAM capabilities and using a Template from S3
aws cloudformation create-stack --stack-name the-stack --template-url --parameters file://parameters.json --capabilities CAPABILITY_NAMED_IAM

# Validate Stack
aws cloudformation validate-template --template-body file://stack.yml

# Delete Stack
aws cloudformation delete-stack --stack-name  the-stack

# Describe Stack
aws cloudformation describe-stack-events --stack-name the-stack


AWS’ managed Git repositories

  • Creates a PR with a title specifying the Repository and the Source Branch
# Create a pull request
aws codecommit create-pull-request --title "Merge in some improvements" --targets repositoryName=the-repos,sourceReference=the-branch

Cognito/User Pools

AWS’ Identity and access management and User Directory service. It’s serverless and provides an OAuth2 and OIDC compliant implementation of those standards

  • Updates the user attributes
  • Confirms the user and sets their password
  • Signing up a new user
  • Confirming signup of the new user
aws cognito-idp admin-update-user-attributes --user-pool-id us-the-pool --username ben --user-attributes Name="name",Value="Ben Pyle" 

aws cognito-idp admin-set-user-password --user-pool-id the-pool --username UUID --password <PASSWORD> --permanent 

aws cognito-idp sign-up \
    --client-id the-id \
    --username "the-user-name" \
    --password <password> \
    --user-attributes "Name"="email","Value"="" "Name"="phone_number","Value"="+18175577109" "Name"="name","Value"="Ben Pyle" \
    --region us-west-2 \
    --profile default
aws cognito-idp admin-confirm-sign-up \
    --user-pool-id the-pool \
    --username "the-user-name" \
    --region us-west-2 \
    --profile default
aws cognito-idp admin-update-user-attributes \
    --user-pool-id the-pool \
    --username "the-user-name" \
    --user-attributes Name=email_verified,Value=true \
    --region us-west-2 \
    --profile default


Large scale Stream. Can be used to move data, transform data for analytics among many other things

  • Creating a new stream
  • Describing a stream
  • Watching a stream — this will connect to the stream you specify and act a Consumer so you can see the data as it comes off the flow
# create stream
aws kinesis create-stream --stream-name <value> --shard-count <value>
# describe stream
aws kinesis describe-stream --stream-name <value>
# watch stream - against .aws/credentials
streamname=stream-name; aws kinesis describe-stream --stream-name $streamname --output text | grep SHARDS | awk '{print $2}' | while read shard; do aws kinesis get-shard-iterator --stream-name $streamname --shard-id $shard --shard-iterator-type LATEST --output text | while read iterator; do while output=`aws kinesis get-records --shard-iterator $iterator --output text`; do iterator=`echo "$output" | head -n1 | awk '{print $2}'`; echo "$output" | gsed 1d | grep RECORDS | while read record; do echo $record | awk '{print $3}' | base64 -D; done; done; done; done

Wrapping Up

Hopefully you find some value in these. Like I said at the beginning these are just things I run often with the options I run them. You can find so much more here but I really just wanted to capture a few more specifics.


Published by Benjamen Pyle

Benjamen is a genuine and resourceful technology creator with over 20 years of hands-on software development, team building and leadership experience. His passion is enabling technology teams to be their best by bridging modern technical design with outstanding business problem-solving. Recognized as an AWS Community leader in the areas of Event-Driven and Serverless Architecture, he brings multiple years of pragmatic experience designing and operating modern cloud-native and containerized solutions. When Benjamen doesn't have his head in the clouds, he's either playing golf with his wife and 2 boys or they are outside with their 12 paws.