S3 Commands

AWS includes basic funtionality for S3 commands, which emulate Unix command logic for ease of use and basic operations.

The S3 documentation presented here is a subset of the Amazon S3 documentation set, maintained separately to reflect operations available for Zenko.

Path Argument Type

Whenever using a command, at least one path argument must be specified. There are two types of path arguments: LocalPath and S3Uri.

LocalPath: represents the path of a local file or directory. It can be written as an absolute path or relative path.

S3Uri: represents the location of a S3 object, prefix, or bucket. This must be written in the form s3://mybucket/mykey where mybucket is the specified S3 bucket, mykey is the specified S3 key. The path argument must begin with s3:// in order to denote that the path argument refers to a S3 object. Note that prefixes are separated by forward slashes. For example, if the S3 object myobject had the prefix myprefix, the S3 key would be myprefix/myobject, and if the object was in the bucket mybucket, the S3Uri would be s3://mybucket/myprefix/myobject.

Order of Path Arguments

Every command takes one or two positional path arguments. The first path argument represents the source, which is the local file/directory or S3 object/prefix/bucket that is being referenced. If there is a second path argument, it represents the destination, which is the local file/directory or S3 object/prefix/bucket that is being operated on. Commands with only one path argument do not have a destination because the operation is being performed only on the source.

Single Local File and S3 Object Operations

Some commands perform operations only on single files and S3 objects. The following commands are single file/object operations if no --recursive flag is provided.

  • cp
  • rm

For this type of operation, the first path argument, the source, must exist and be a local file or S3 object. The second path argument, the destination, can be the name of a local file, local directory, S3 object, S3 prefix, or S3 bucket.

The destination is indicated as a local directory, S3 prefix, or S3 bucket if it ends with a forward slash or back slash. The use of slash depends on the path argument type. If the path argument is a LocalPath, the type of slash is the separator used by the operating system. If the path is a S3Uri, the forward slash must always be used. If a slash is at the end of the destination, the destination file or object will adopt the name of the source file or object. Otherwise, if there is no slash at the end, the file or object will be saved under the name provided. See example in cp to illustrate this description.

Directory and S3 Prefix Operations

Some commands only perform operations on the contents of a local directory or S3 prefix/bucket. Adding or omitting a forward slash or back slash to the end of any path argument, depending on its type, does not affect the results of the operation. The following commands will always result in a directory or S3 prefix/bucket operation:

  • mb
  • rb
  • ls

Use of Exclude and Include Filters

Currently, there is no support for the use of UNIX style wildcards in a command’s path arguments. However, most commands have --exclude "<value>" and --include "<value>" parameters that can achieve the desired result. These parameters perform pattern matching to either exclude or include a particular file or object. The following pattern symbols are supported.

  • *: Matches everything
  • ?: Matches any single character
  • [sequence]: Matches any character in sequence
  • [!sequence]: Matches any character not in sequence

Any number of these parameters can be passed to a command. You can do this by providing an --exclude or --include argument multiple times, e.g. --include "*.txt" --include "*.png". When there are multiple filters, the rule is the filters that appear later in the command take precedence over filters that appear earlier in the command. For example, if the filter parameters passed to the command were

--exclude "*" --include "*.txt"

All files will be excluded from the command except for files ending with .txt However, if the order of the filter parameters was changed to

--include "*.txt" --exclude "*"

All files will be excluded from the command.

Each filter is evaluated against the source directory. If the source location is a file instead of a directory, the directory containing the file is used as the source directory. For example, suppose you had the following directory structure:


In the command aws s3 sync /tmp/foo s3://bucket/ the source directory is /tmp/foo. Any include/exclude filters will be evaluated with the source directory prepended. Below are several examples to demonstrate this.

Given the directory structure above and the command aws s3 cp /tmp/foo s3://bucket/ --recursive --exclude ".git/*", the files .git/config and .git/description will be excluded from the files to upload because the exclude filter .git/* will have the source prepended to the filter. This means that:

/tmp/foo/.git/* -> /tmp/foo/.git/config       (matches, should exclude)
/tmp/foo/.git/* -> /tmp/foo/.git/description  (matches, should exclude)
/tmp/foo/.git/* -> /tmp/foo/foo.txt  (does not match, should include)
/tmp/foo/.git/* -> /tmp/foo/bar.txt  (does not match, should include)
/tmp/foo/.git/* -> /tmp/foo/baz.jpg  (does not match, should include)

The command aws s3 cp /tmp/foo/ s3://bucket/ --recursive --exclude "ba*" will exclude /tmp/foo/bar.txt and /tmp/foo/baz.jpg:

/tmp/foo/ba* -> /tmp/foo/.git/config      (does not match, should include)
/tmp/foo/ba* -> /tmp/foo/.git/description (does not match, should include)
/tmp/foo/ba* -> /tmp/foo/foo.txt          (does not match, should include)
/tmp/foo/ba* -> /tmp/foo/bar.txt  (matches, should exclude)
/tmp/foo/ba* -> /tmp/foo/baz.jpg  (matches, should exclude)

Note that, by default, all files are included. This means that providing only an --include filter does not change which files are transferred. --include only re-includes files that have been excluded from an --exclude filter. If you only want to upload files with a particular extension, you must first exclude all files, then re-include the files with the particular extension. This command uploads only files ending with .jpg:

aws s3 cp /tmp/foo/ s3://bucket/ --recursive --exclude "*" --include "*.jpg"

To include both .jpg files as well as .txt files, run:

aws s3 cp /tmp/foo/ s3://bucket/ --recursive \
    --exclude "*" --include "*.jpg" --include "*.txt"


aws s3 <Command> [<Arg> ...]



Available Commands