gcloud CLI overview

This page contains an overview of the Google Cloud CLI and its common command patterns and capabilities.

What is the gcloud CLI?

The Google Cloud CLI is a set of tools to create and manage Google Cloud resources. You can use these tools to perform many common platform tasks from the command line or through scripts and other automation.

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

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

You can also use the gcloud CLI to deploy App Engine applications, manage authentication, customize local configuration, and perform other tasks.

Download and install the gcloud CLI

The current gcloud CLI version is 483.0.0.

Although we strongly recommend that you use the current version of gcloud CLI, you can also download and install previous versions from the download archive.

If you're using Cloud Shell, the gcloud CLI is available automatically and you don't need to install it. Otherwise, download and install the gcloud CLI and then initialize it.

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

The gcloud CLI cheat sheet

For a quick introduction to the gcloud CLI, a list of commonly used commands, and a look at how these commands are structured, see the gcloud CLI cheat sheet.

Release levels

The gcloud CLI commands have the following release levels:

Release level Label Description
General Availability None Commands are considered fully stable and available for production use. For advance notice of changes to commands that break current functionality, see the release notes.
Beta beta Commands are functionally complete, but could still have some outstanding issues. Breaking changes to these commands can be made without notice.
Alpha alpha Commands are in early release and may change without notice.

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

Command groups

Within each release level, gcloud CLI commands are organized into a nested hierarchy of command groups, each of which represents a product or feature of Google Cloud 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 alpha app Commands related to managing App Engine deployments in Alpha

Running gcloud CLI commands

You can run gcloud CLI commands from the command line and from scripts and other automations—for example, when using Jenkins to automate Google Cloud tasks.


The gcloud CLI properties are settings that affect the behavior of the gcloud CLI tools. Some of these properties can be set by either global or command options—in which case, the value set by the option takes precedence.

Enabling accessibility features

For a more streamlined screen reader experience, the gcloud CLI comes with an accessibility/screen_reader property.

To enable the accessibility property, run:

gcloud config set accessibility/screen_reader true

For more details about the accessibility features that come with the gcloud command-line tool, see the Enabling accessibility features guide.


A configuration is a set of gcloud CLI properties. A configuration works like a profile.

When you start using the gcloud CLI, you'll work with a single configuration named default and you can set properties by running gcloud init or gcloud config set. This single default configuration is suitable for most use cases.

To work with multiple projects or authorization accounts, you can set up multiple configurations with gcloud config configurations create and switch among the configurations. Within a configuration, you can customize properties. For example, to set your project within an active configuration use the project property:

gcloud config set project <project-id>

For a detailed account of these concepts, see the Configurations guide.

Global options

The gcloud CLI provides a set of gcloud CLI options that govern the behavior of commands on a per-invocation level. Options override values set in gcloud CLI properties.

Positional arguments and options

While positional arguments and options affect the output of a gcloud CLI command, there is a subtle difference in their use cases. A positional argument is used to define an entity on which a command operates while an options is required to set a variation in a command's behavior.

Use of stdout and stderr

The output of successful gcloud CLI commands is written to stdout. All other types of responses—prompts, warnings, and errors—are written to stderr. Do not script against responses written to stderr because these responses aren't stable.

For guidelines on handling output, refer to the Scripting guide.


To protect against unintended destructive actions, the gcloud CLI confirms your intentions before executing commands such as gcloud projects delete.

You might be prompted when additional information is needed. For example you will be asked to choose a zone when you create a Compute Engine virtual machine instance using gcloud compute instances create test-instance.

To disable prompting, use the --quiet option.

Do not script against the wording of prompts because the wording can change.

Suppressing prompting, writing to the terminal, and logging

The --quiet option (also, -q) for the gcloud CLI disables all interactive prompts when running gcloud CLI commands and is useful for scripting. If input is needed, defaults are used. If there isn't a default, an error is raised.

To suppress printing of command output to standard output and standard error in the terminal, use the --no-user-output-enabled option.

To adjust verbosity of logs, specify a verbosity level (debug, info, warning, error, critical, or none) using the --verbosity option.

Determining output structure

By default, when a gcloud CLI command returns a list of resources, the resources are pretty-printed to standard output. To produce more meaningful output, the format, filter, and projection options allow you to fine-tune your output.

To define just the format of your output, use the --format option to produce a tabulated or flattened version of your output (for interactive display) or a machine-readable version of the output (json, csv, yaml, value).

To format a list of keys that select resource data values, use projections. To further refine your output to criteria you define, use filter.

To familiarize yourself with filter and format functionality, you can complete a quick interactive tutorial by clicking Open in Cloud Shell.

Open in Cloud Shell

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