Using gcloud interactive shell

The gcloud interactive shell provides a richer bash experience, simplifying command and documentation discovery with as-you-type autocompletion and help text snippets.

It produces suggestions and auto-completion for gcloud, bq, gsutil, and kubectl command-line tools, and any command that has a man(1) page. Sub-commands, flags, and file and resource arguments are completed, along with inline help, as the command is composed.

Installation and use

  1. Check if you have the gcloud beta components installed:

    gcloud components list
  2. To install the beta components:

    gcloud components install beta
  3. Enter the gcloud interactive mode:

    gcloud beta interactive

    Your usual shell prompt will be replaced with the gcloud interactive shell prompt $.

  4. To exit the interactive shell type exit, ctrl-d, or F9.

Auto-completion and help

gcloud interactive has auto prompting for commands and flags, and displays inline help snippets in the lower section as the command is typed.

Static information, like command and sub-command names, and flag names and enumerated flag values, are auto-completed using dropdown menus. Hit tab to complete file path and resource arguments.

Type the next character to refine the dropdown completion menu, or use tab to scroll through the menu. Finally, use space or / to select the highlighted item or directory.

gcloud interactive shell example session


To accomplish common tasks, function keys can be used to toggle mode/state settings or run specific actions.

  • F2:help:STATE Toggles the active help section, ON when enabled, OFF when disabled.
  • F7:context Sets the context for command input, so you won't have to re-type common command prefixes at every prompt. The context is the command line from just after the prompt up to the cursor. For example, if you are about to work with gcloud compute for a while, type gcloud compute and hit F7. Hit ctrl-c and F7 to clear the context.
  • F8:web help Opens a web browser tab/window to display the complete man page help for the current command. Command specific help or man(1) help is attempted, if the web browser is not available.
  • F9:quit Exit. You can also run the exit command or hit ctrl-d to exit.

Bash compatibility

bash completion configs, aliases, exports, functions, set -o settings, and variables initialized in your .bashrc are all available at the interactive command prompt. The interactive command line edit mode is derived from the set -o emacs or set -o vi setting.

More information

For greater detail about the interactive shell and its shortcuts, control characters, editor modes, and configurable layout options, consult the gcloud beta interactive reference page.