How to Configure AWS Credentials

To use the programmatic IAM user you must configure the IAM access key id, the ***secret access key* and the region. Refer to create iam user to understand how to create the user, attach policies directly or align the user to a group.

You then store the two IAM user access credentials user Unix Pass, KeePass, KeePassX or LastPass (for use below).

3 Ways to Configure AWS Credentials

You can configure AWS credentials

  • through environment variables
  • via an INI formatted credentials file
  • using software like JAVA, Ruby, Python etc

Environment Variables | AWS Credentials

Environment variables work well inside single purpose (lightweight) Docker containers. These variables can be set by Kubernetes or via the docker run command.

Windows 10

You can use setx to permanently set the environment variables. Unfortunately to delete them you will need the reg delete command.

Windows 7

Use the blog on setting environment variables using Powershell. Again, deletion requires reg delete.

Ubuntu 16.04

To permanently set the environment variables you need to export them and then append the key-value pairs to the /etc/environment file. Alternatively - you can append to dot profile so that the variables are exported each time a login occurs. A vagrant inline script can achieve this.

Delete Windows Environment Variable

You need to delete your AWS Environment Variables if moving to an AWS Credentials file. In Windows you achieve this through the REG delete commmand (note - there is no setx delete command).

REG delete "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment" /F /V FOOBAR

INI (Policy) File | AWS Credentials

A development or test workstation should use the credentials file because different use cases tend to use different IAM users.

The credential INI file will have many sections - each section configures a user. Within the SDK a profile name can be specified for the AWS Seahorse software to select the required user.


aws_access_key_id = AKIAABC123
aws_secret_access_key = iTAbc123
region = eu-west-1


aws_access_key_id = AKIAABC456
aws_secret_access_key = iTAbc456
region = eu-west-1

Linux ยป Ubuntu, Centos, CoreOS, RHEL | AWS Credentials File

Create a folder named .aws inside the user's home directory be it /home/apollo or /var/lib/jenkins or /var/opt/gitlab.

Within the .aws folder create a file named credentials (with no extension).

Windows AWS Credentials File

In Windows the AWS credentials file has a different name and it does not live in a .aws folder. You

  • name the file .awscredentials (not credentials).
  • place file in folder defined by the USERPROFILE environment variable.

Aside from that the content formatting is the same as it is in Linux.

Inline Software | AWS Credentials

The Aws.config command within Ruby v2 is formatted like the below.

    region: 'eu-west-1',
    credentials:'AKIAABC123', 'iTAbc123')

Inline configuration is the least portable and risks getting the credentials checked into your Git repository. Don't forget to set the AWS region as well as the access IDs.