Google Cloud Platform
Cloud SDK

gcloud Overview

This page contains an overview of the gcloud command-line tool.


What is gcloud?

gcloud is a tool that provides the primary command-line interface to Google Cloud Platform. You can use this tool to perform many common platform tasks either from the command-line, or in scripts and other automations.

For example, you can use gcloud to create and manage:

  • Google Compute Engine virtual machine instances and other resources
  • Google Cloud SQL instances
  • Google Container Engine clusters
  • Google Cloud Dataproc clusters and jobs
  • Google Cloud DNS managed zones and record sets
  • Google Cloud Deployment manager deployments

You can also use gcloud to deploy App Engine applications and perform other tasks. Read the gcloud Reference to learn more about the capabilities of the tool.

gcloud and the SDK

gcloud is a part of the Google Cloud SDK. You must download and install the SDK on your system and initialize it before you can use gcloud.

By default, the SDK installs those gcloud commands that are at the General Availability and Preview levels only. Additional functionality is available in SDK components named alpha and beta. These components allow you to use gcloud to work with Google Cloud BigTable, Google Cloud Dataflow and other parts of the Cloud Platform at earlier release levels than General Availability.

gcloud releases have the same version number as the SDK. The current SDK version is 107.0.0. You can download and install previous versions of the SDK from the download archive.

Release levels

gcloud commands have the following release levels:

Release level Label Description
General Availability None Commands are considered fully stable and available for production use. Any commands that break current functionality are subject to a formal deprecation policy and are documented in the release notes.
Beta beta Commands are functionally complete, but may still have some outstanding issues. Not covered by any service-level agreement (SLA).
Alpha alpha Commands are in early release and may change without notice. Not covered by any SLA.
Preview preview Commands may be unstable and may change without notice. Not covered by any SLA.

The alpha and beta components are not installed by default when you install the SDK. You must install these separately using the gcloud components install command. If you try to run a Alpha or Beta command and the corresponding component is not installed, gcloud prompts you to install it.

Command groups

Within each release level, gcloud commands are organized into a nested hierarchy of command groups, each of which represents a product or feature of the Cloud Platform or its functional subgroups.

For example:

Command group Description
gcloud compute Commands related to Compute Engine in general availability
gcloud compute instances Commands related to Compute Engine instances in general availability
gcloud beta compute Commands related to Compute Engine in Beta
gcloud preview app Commands related to App Engine in Preview


The SDK has a set of properties that govern the behavior of the gcloud command-line tool and other SDK tools. You can use these properties to control the behavior of gcloud commands across invocations.


Configurations are named sets of properties. gcloud automatically provides a configuration named default and uses it as the initial active configuration. This single default configuration is suitable for many use cases. However, you can also create additional configurations and switch between them as required.

Global flags

gcloud provides a set of global flags that govern the behavior of commands on a per-invocation level. Flags override any values set in SDK properties.

Running gcloud commands

You can run gcloud commands from the command line in the same way you use other command-line tools. You can also run gcloud commands from within scripts and other automations, for example, when using Jenkins to automate Cloud Platform tasks.

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