I have an instance named dev-server-03. Now how can I search all dev-server-* instances from command line?

I am using aws cli tool.

  • This depends on how you've named the instance. Did you set the hostname inside the OS, on the AWS console or both? Dec 10, 2013 at 13:16
  • Yeah inside the OS hostname is set to same Name. Dec 11, 2013 at 5:29

3 Answers 3


Assuming that you are using the convention of putting the name of the instance in a tag with the key of "Name" (this is what the AWS Console does when you enter a name), then you can use the --filters option to list those instances with aws-cli:

aws ec2 describe-instances --filters 'Name=tag:Name,Values=dev-server-*'

If you just wanted the instance ids of those instances, you could use:

aws ec2 describe-instances --filters 'Name=tag:Name,Values=dev-server-*' \
  --output text --query 'Reservations[*].Instances[*].InstanceId'

Note: --query may require a recent version of aws-cli but it's worth getting.

  • 2
    Omg it took me almost half an hour to figure this out... how weird is this : Name=tag:Name
    – lisak
    Apr 9, 2015 at 14:40
  • 2
    Thanks Eric - I was getting multiple instance IDs on the same line, using your query, but github.com/aws/aws-cli/issues/914#issuecomment-56210312 suggested --query 'Reservations[].Instances[].[InstanceId] which works for me
    – jaygooby
    Sep 5, 2016 at 20:35
  • 6
    FWIW, the jq tool can be used to get similar results to aws --query like this: aws ec2 describe-instances | jq '.Reservations[].Instances[].PrivateIpAddress' --note the preceding . dot.
    – MarkHu
    Nov 8, 2017 at 19:04
  • can you make describe-instances filters case insensitive?
    – red888
    Nov 6, 2018 at 14:59
  • 2
    Also worth adding filter 'Name=instance-state-name,Values=running', as terminated instances show up in results for a while.
    – yurez
    Nov 23, 2020 at 10:59

You can further filter with name, instance id and private ip with below,

aws ec2 describe-instances --filters "Name=tag:Name,Values=*myinstance*" --output json --query 'Reservations[*].Instances[*].[PrivateIpAddress,InstanceId,Tags[?Key==`Name`].Value]' --region us-east-1
  • This filtering by Key name was exactly what I was looking for, thank you!
    – ingernet
    Dec 13, 2019 at 4:43
  • Specifying region was exactly thing without which command refused to work. Now it works, thank you! May 12, 2020 at 8:00
  • surrounding with * worked for me Jun 1, 2021 at 3:37

If you're using jq, you can achieve this with:

aws ec2 describe-instances | 
jq -r '.Reservations[].Instances[] | 
select(.Tags[].Value | startswith("dev-server-"))'

You can append additional filters to jq for more specific results, such as:

... startswith("dev-server-")) | .PublicDnsName'

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