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AWS CLI Unable To Locate Credentials | How To Fix?

To fix the “Unable to locate credentials” error, configure AWS credentials correctly in the AWS CLI. All Amazon S3 questions are answered by Skynats as a part of our AWS Support Services.

Error “Unable to locate credentials” while using AWS CLI

In a local file called credentials, located in a folder in the home directory, the AWS CLI stores sensitive credential information that we specify with AWS configured. When Amazon S3 cannot locate the credentials to authenticate AWS API calls, an “Unable to locate credentials” error in the AWS CLI is displayed. This typically happens when:

  1. The AWS CLI’s configuration of the AWS credentials is incorrect.
  2. Using an outdated AWS CLI version

Fixing Error “Unable to locate credentials” while using AWS CLI

Our Support team advises verifying the AWS credentials are correctly configured in the AWS CLI to resolve the issue. We can check this by running the following command to see if the AWS CLI is set up with credentials:

$ aws configure list

The command returns a result that resembles the following when credentials are set in the configuration file:

Name                    Value                    Type            Location
----                    -----                    ----            --------
profile                <not set>                 None            None
access_key             ****************ABCD      config_file    ~/.aws/config
secret_key             ****************ABCD      config_file    ~/.aws/config
region                 us-west-1 env AWS_DEFAULT_REGION

The command returns a result that looks like this if credentials were configured using environment variables:

Name                   Value                     Type            Location
----                   -----                     ----            --------
profile                <not set>                 None            None
access_key             ****************N36N      env    
secret_key             ****************cxxy      env    
region                 <not set>                 None            None

If the credentials are set up in an instance profile, the command returns a response that looks like this:

Name                    Value                    Type              Location
----                    -----                    ----              --------
profile                <not set>                 None               None
access_key             ****************YVEQ      iam-role
secret_key             ****************2a9N      iam-role
region                 <not set>                 None               None

If the command returns the following result, no credentials are configured.

Name                    Value             Type                Location
----                    -----             ----                --------
profile                <not set>          None                None
access_key             <not set>          None                None
secret_key             <not set>          None                None
region                 <not set>          None                None

We must examine the response to determine whether credentials are missing or incorrect if we want to resolve the AWS CLI unable to locate credentials error.

How To Set And View Credentials?

The credentials, region, and output format can all be set and viewed using aws configure. E.g.,

AWS Access Key ID [None]: AKIAIOSFODNN7EXAMPLE  AWS Secret Access Key [None]: wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY  Default region name [None]: us-west-2  Default output format [None]: json

You can set any credentials or configuration settings by using the command aws configure set. Use the -profile setting to specify the profile that you want to view or edit. For instance, the command below sets the region for the Skynats profile.

aws configure set region us-west-2 --profile skynats

Use an empty string as the setting’s value or manually remove the setting in the config and credentials files using a text editor to remove a setting.

aws configure set cli_pager "" --profile skynats

To prevent errors, we must also make sure to use the most recent AWS CLI version.

Here is an example of an AWS CLI “unable to locate credentials” error and how our Support team helped the user resolve it. The user receives the error message “Unable to locate credentials” after attempting to mount an EBS drive and download some files from S3 using the shell script. The customer entered the following code:



echo $1

sudo mkfs -t ext4 $1
sudo mkdir /s3-backup-test
sudo chmod -R ugo+rw /s3-backup-test
sudo mount $1 /s3-backup-test

sudo aws s3 sync s3://backup-test-s3 /s3-backup/test

du -h /s3-backup-test
ipt (short version):

We can infer from examining the code that the user runs the script with sudo. They do, however, specify the credentials for a standard user. To resolve the issue of being unable to locate credentials in AWS CLI, our Support team recommends that the user perform all AWS operations as root or as a normal user. This occurs because sudo changes the $HOME directory to /root and removes most bash variables such as AWS_CONFIG_FILE from the environment.

Are you looking for an answer to another query? Contact our technical support team.

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