AWS Developer Blog

The AWS CLI Topic Guide

Hi everyone! This blog post is about the AWS CLI Topic Guide, a feature that was added in version 1.7.24 of the CLI. The AWS CLI Topic Guide allows users to discover and read information about a CLI feature or its behavior at a level of detail not found in-depth in the Help page of a single command.

Discovering Topics

Run the following command to discover the topics available:

$ aws help topics

A Help page with a list of available topics will be displayed. Here is an example list:

       o config-vars: Configuration Variables for the AWS CLI

       o return-codes: Describes the various return codes of the AWS CLI

       o s3-config: Advanced configuration for AWS S3 Commands

In this case, the returned topics (config-vars, return-codes, and s3-config) fall into two categories: General and S3. Each topic belongs to a single category only, so you will never see repeated topics in the list.

Accessing Topics

Run the following command to access a topic’s contents:

$ aws help topicname

where topicname is the name of a topic listed in the output of the aws help topics command. For example, if you wanted to access the return-codes topic to learn more about the various return codes in the CLI, all you would have to type is:

$ aws help return-codes

This will display a Help page that describes the various return codes you might recieve when running a CLI command and the scenarios for particular status codes.

The AWS CLI Topic Guide is also available online.


The AWS CLI Topic Guide is a great source of information about the CLI. If you have topics you would like us to add, submit a request through our GitHub repository.

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