Getting an API token

The Arvados API token is a secret key that enables the Arvados command line tools to authenticate themselves.

Access the Arvados Workbench using this link: (Replace the hostname portion with the hostname of your local Arvados instance if necessary.)

Open a shell on the system where you want to use the Arvados client. This may be your local workstation, or an Arvados virtual machine accessed with Webshell or SSH (instructions for Unix or Windows).

In the Arvados Workbench, click on the dropdown menu icon in the upper right corner of the top navigation menu to access the Account Management menu. Then, in the pop-up menu, click on the menu item Get API token. This will open a dialog box that lists your current token and the instructions for setting up your environment.

Setting environment variables

In the dialog box opened after clicking on the Get API token menu item, there is a sequence of commands you may copy and paste directly into the shell. It will look something as the following.

export ARVADOS_API_TOKEN=2jv9346o396exampledonotuseexampledonotuseexes7j1ld
  • The export command puts a local shell variable into the environment that will be inherited by child processes such as the arv client.


Arvados tools will also look for the authentication information in ~/.config/arvados/settings.conf. If you have already put the variables into the environment following the instructions above, you can use these commands to create an Arvados configuration file:

$ echo "ARVADOS_API_HOST=$ARVADOS_API_HOST" > ~/.config/arvados/settings.conf
$ echo "ARVADOS_API_TOKEN=$ARVADOS_API_TOKEN" >> ~/.config/arvados/settings.conf
  • The output-redirection operator > in the first command will cause the target file ~/.config/arvados/settings.conf to be created anew, wiping out the content of any existing file at that path.
  • The >> operator in the second command appends to the target file.


Alternately, you may add the definitions of ARVADOS_API_HOST and ARVADOS_API_TOKEN to the ~/.bashrc file on the system where you intend to use the Arvados client. If you have already put the variables into the environment following the instructions above, you can use the commands below to append to your ~/.bashrc, which tells Bash to export them as environment variables in newly-started interactive shell sessions:

$ echo "export ARVADOS_API_HOST=$ARVADOS_API_HOST" >> ~/.bashrc
$ echo "export ARVADOS_API_TOKEN=$ARVADOS_API_TOKEN" >> ~/.bashrc

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The content of this documentation is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States licence.
Code samples in this documentation are licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.