AWS Security Blog

Now Create and Manage Users More Easily with the AWS IAM Console

Today, we updated the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) console to make it easier for you to create and manage your IAM users. These improvements include an updated user creation workflow and new ways to assign and manage permissions. The new user workflow guides you through the process of setting user details, including enabling programmatic access (via access key) and console access (via password). In addition, you can assign permissions by adding users to a group, copying permissions from an existing user, and attaching policies directly to users. We have also updated the tools to view details and manage permissions for existing users. Finally, we’ve added 10 new AWS managed policies for job functions that you can use when assigning permissions.

In this post, I show how to use the updated user creation workflow and introduce changes to the user details pages. If you want to learn more about the new AWS managed policies for job functions, see How to Assign Permissions Using New AWS Managed Policies for Job Functions.

The new user creation workflow

Let’s imagine a new database administrator, Arthur, has just joined your team and will need access to your AWS account. To give Arthur access to your account, you must create a new IAM user for Arthur and assign relevant permissions so that Arthur can do his job.

To create a new IAM user:

  1. Navigate to the IAM console.
  2. To create the new user for Arthur, choose Users in the left pane, and then choose Add user.
    Screenshot of creating new user

Set user details
The first step in creating the user arthur is to enter a user name for Arthur and assign his access type:

  1. Type arthur in the User name box. (Note that this workflow allows you to create multiple users at a time. If you create more than one user in a single workflow, all users will have the same access type and permissions.)
    Screenshot of establishing the user name
  2. In addition to using the AWS Management Console, Arthur needs to use the AWS CLI and make API calls using the AWS SDK; therefore, you have to configure both programmatic and AWS Management Console access for him (see the following screenshot). If you select AWS Management Console access, you also have the option to use either an Autogenerated password, which will generate a random password retrievable after the user had been created, or a Custom password, which you can define yourself. In this case, choose Autogenerated password.

By enabling the option User must change password at next sign-in, arthur will be required to change his password the first time he signs in. If you do not have the accountwide setting enabled that allows users to change their own passwords, the workflow will automatically add the IAMUserChangePassword policy to arthur, giving him the ability to change his own password (and no one else’s).
Screenshot of configure both configuring programmatic and AWS Management Console access for Arthur

You can see the contents of the policy by clicking IAMUserChangePassword. This policy grants access to the IAM action, iam:ChangePassword, and it leverages an IAM policy variable, ${aws:username}, which will resolve the current username of the authenticating user. This will enable any user to which it is applied the ability to change only their own password. It also grants access to the IAM action, iam:GetAccountPasswordPolicy, which lets a user see the account password policy details that are shown to help them set a password that conforms to this policy.

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
           "Effect": "Allow",
           "Action": [
           "Resource": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": "*"


Assign permissions

Arthur needs the necessary permissions to do his job as a database administrator. Because you do not have an IAM group set up for database administrators yet, you will create a new group and assign the proper permissions to it:

  1. Knowing that you may grow the database administrator team, using a group to assign permissions will make it easy to assign permissions to additional team members in the future. Choose Add user to group.
  2. Choose Create group. This opens a new window where you can create a new group.
    Screenshot of creating the group
  3. Call the new group DatabaseAdmins and attach the DatabaseAdministrator policy from the new AWS managed policies for job functions, as shown in the following screenshot. This policy enables Arthur to use AWS database services and other supporting services to do his job as a database administrator.

Note: This policy enables you to use additional features in other AWS services (such as Amazon CloudWatch and AWS Data Pipeline). In order to do so, you must create one or more IAM service roles. To understand the different features and the service roles required, see our documentation.
Screenshot of creating DatabaseAdmins group

Review the permissions you assigned to arthur

After creating the group, move to the review step to verify the details and permissions you assigned to arthur (see the following screenshot). If you decide you need to adjust the permissions, you can choose Previous to add or remove assigned permissions. After confirming that arthur has the correct access type and permissions, you can proceed to the next step by choosing Create user.

Screenshot of reviewing the permissions

Retrieve security credentials and email sign-in instructions

The user arthur has now been created with the appropriate permissions.

Screenshot of the "Success" message

You can now retrieve security credentials (access key ID, secret access key, and console password). By choosing Send email, an email with instructions about how to sign in to the AWS Management Console will be generated in your default email application.

Screenshot of the "Send email" link

This email provides a convenient way to send instructions about how to sign in to the AWS Management Console. The email does not include access keys or passwords, so to enable users to get started, you also will need to securely transmit those credentials according to your organization’s security policies.

Screenshot of email with sign-in instructions

Updates to the user details pages

We have also refreshed the user details pages. On the Permissions tab, you will see that the previous Attach policy button is now called Add permissions. This will launch you into the same permissions assignment workflow used in the user creation process. We’ve also changed the way that policies attached to a user are displayed and have added the count of groups attached to the user in the label of the Groups tab.

Screenshot of the changed user details page

On the Security credentials tab, we’ve updated a few items as well. We’ve updated the Sign-in credentials section and added Console password, which shows if AWS Management Console access is enabled or disabled. We’ve also added the Console login link to make it easier to find. We have also updated the Console password, Create access key, and Upload SSH public key workflows so that they are easier to use.

Screenshot of updates made to the "Security credentials" tab


We made these improvements to make it easier for you to create and manage permissions for your IAM users. As you are using these new tools, make sure to review and follow IAM best practices, which can help you improve your security posture and make your account easier to manage.

If you have any feedback or questions about these new features, submit a comment below or start a new thread on the IAM forum.

– Rob