Bitwarden CLI

Category: Miscellaneous
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    The Bitwarden command-line interface (CLI) is a powerful, fully-featured tool for accessing and managing your Vault. Most features that you find in other Bitwarden client applications (Desktop, Browser Extension, etc.) are available from the CLI.

    The Bitwarden CLI is self-documented. From the command line, learn about the available commands using:

    bw --help
    

    Or, pass --help as an option on any bw command to see available options and examples:

    bw list --help
    
    bw share --help
    

    Most information you’ll need can be accessed using --help, however this article replicates all that information and goes into greater depth on some topics.

    Download and Install

    The CLI can be used cross-platform on Windows, macOS, and Linux distributions. To download and install the Bitwarden CLI:

    Native Executable

    Natively packaged versions of the CLI are available for each platform and have no dependencies. Download using one of these links:

    Tip

    In UNIX systems you might get a Permission denied message. If you do, grant permission by running:

    bash chmod +x </path/to/executable>
    

    NPM

    If you have Node.js installed on your system, you can install the CLI using NPM. Installing with NPM is the simplest way to keep your installation up-to-date and should be the preferred method for those already comfortable with NPM:

    npm install -g @bitwarden/cli
    

    View the package on npmjs.org.

    Chocolatey

    To install with Chocolatey:

    choco install bitwarden-cli
    

    View the package on community.chocolatey.org.

    Homebrew

    To install with Homebrew:

    brew install bitwarden-cli
    

    View the package on formulae.brew.

    Snap

    To install with Snap:

    sudo snap install bw
    

    View the package on snapcraft.io.

    Log In

    Logging in to the Bitwarden CLI authenticates you with the configured Bitwarden server and syncs your Vault. To log in to Bitwarden, use the login command with one of the following login workflow options:

    Using email and password

    Logging in with email and password authenticates you with Bitwarden servers, syncs your Vault, and unlocks your Vault. This is the only method that automatically unlocks your Vault. To log in with email and password use:

    bw login
    

    This command will initiate a prompt for your Email address, Master password, and (if enabled) a Two-step login code.

    Note

    You can string this together into a single command as in the following example, however this is not recommended for security reasons.

    bw login [email] [password] --method <method> --code <code>
    

    See Appendices → Enums for <method> values.

    Using an API key

    Logging in with a Personal API Key authenticates you with Bitwarden servers, syncs your Vault, but does not unlock your Vault. After logging in with an API key, you will be required to unlock your Vault using your Master Password. To log in with an API key use:

    bw login --apikey
    

    This command will initiate a prompt for your personal client_id and client_secret.

    Tip

    When logging in with an API key, the CLI will first look for non-empty environment variables BW_CLIENTID and BW_CLIENTSECRET before initiating a prompt for client_id and client_secret.

    If you don’t want to be prompted for the client_id and client_secret every time, you can save these values to BW_CLIENTID and BW_CLIENTSECRET respectively.

    Using SSO

    Logging in with SSO authenticates you with Bitwarden servers, syncs your Vault, but does not unlock your Vault. After logging in with SSO, you will be required to unlock your Vault using your Master Password. To log in with SSO use:

    bw login --sso
    

    This command will initiate the SSO authentication flow in your web browser.

    Two-step login

    The CLI currently supports two-step login via authenticator, email, or Yubikey. If you have one of these methods enabled, you will be required to enter your two-step login code to log in. If you have multiple methods enabled, you will be prompted first to select which method to use.

    Note

    You can pass your two-step login method and code as options, as in the following example.

    bw login [email] [password] --method <method> --code <code>
    

    See Appendices → Enums for <method> values.

    Session Management

    Logging in using email and password is the only method which automatically unlocks your Vault. All other options will subsequently prompt you to unlock your Vault using your Master Password.

    In the CLI, unlocking your Vault generates a session key which acts as the decryption key used to interact with data in your Vault. The session key must be used to perform any command that touches Vault data (e.g. list, get, edit). You can generate a new session key at any time using:

    bw unlock
    

    This command will prompt your for your Master Password and generate a new session key.

    You can also lock (i.e. destroy any active session key) using:

    bw lock
    

    Using a Session Key

    The typical way to use a session key is to set a BW_SESSION environment variable with the session key’s value. When you log in and unlock your Vault using any one of the above methods, the CLI will return both a export BW_SESSION (Bash) and env:BW_SESSION (PowerShell) command, including your session key, that can be easily copied and pasted to save the required environment variable.

    When you set the BW_SESSION environment variable, bw commands will reference that variable and can be run cleanly, for example:

    export BW_SESSION="5PBYGU+5yt3RHcCjoeJKx/wByU34vokGRZjXpSH7Ylo8w=="
    
    bw list items
    

    The BW_SESSION environment variable is only tied to the active terminal session, so closing your terminal window is equivalent to locking your Vault.

    Alternatively, if you don’t set the environment variable, you can pass the session key as an option with each bw command:

    bw list items --session "5PBYGU+5yt3RHcCjoeJKx/wByU34vokGRZjXpSH7Ylo8w=="
    
    Note

    It is possible to persist your session key to your environment (for example, exporting it in .bashrc), however, we do not recommend doing so. Considering their use, session keys are not well-suited to persisting on an unprotected disk.

    Core Commands

    create

    The create command creates a new object (item, attachment, etc.) in your Vault:

    bw create (item|attachment|folder|org-collection) <encodedJson> [options]
    

    The create command takes encoded JSON. A typical workflow for creating an object might look something like:

    1. Use the get template command (see details) to output the appropriate JSON template for the object type.
    2. Use a command-line JSON processor like jq to manipulate the outputted template as required.
    3. Use the encode command (see details) to encode the manipulated JSON.
    4. Use the create command to create an object from the encoded JSON.

    For example:

    bw get template folder | jq '.name="My First Folder"' | bw encode | bw create folder
    

    or

    bw get template item | jq ".name=\"My Login Item\" | .login=$(bw get template item.login | jq '.username="jdoe" | .password="[email protected]"')" | bw encode | bw create item
    

    Upon successful creation, the newly created object will be returned as JSON.

    create attachment

    The create attachment command attaches a file to an existing item.

    Unlike other create operations, you don’t need to use a JSON processor or encode to create an attachment. Instead, use the --file option to specify the file to attach and the --itemid option to specify the item to attach it to. For example:

    bw create attachment --file ./path/to/file --itemid 16b15b89-65b3-4639-ad2a-95052a6d8f66
    
    Tip

    If you don’t know the exact itemid you want to use, use bw get item <search-term> to return the item (see details), including its id.

    get

    The get command retrieves a single object (item, username, password, etc.) from your Vault:

    bw get (item|username|password|uri|totp|exposed|attachment|folder|collection|organization|org-collection|template|fingerprint) <id> [options]
    

    The get command takes an item id or string for its argument. If you use a string (i.e. anything other than an exact id), get will search your Vault objects for one with a value that matches. For example, the following command would return a Github password:

    bw get password Github
    
    Note

    The get command can only return one result, so you should use specific search terms. If multiple results are found, the CLI will return an error.

    get attachment

    The get attachment command downloads a file attachment:

    bw get attachment <filename> --itemid <id>
    

    The get attachment command takes a filename and exact id. By default, get attachment will download the attachment to the current working directory. You can use the --output option to specify a different output directory, for example:

    bw get attachment photo.png --itemid 99ee88d2-6046-4ea7-92c2-acac464b1412 --output /Users/myaccount/Pictures/
    
    Note

    When using --output, the path must end a forward slash (/) to specify a directory or a filename (/Users/myaccount/Pictures/photo.png).

    get template

    The get template command returns the expected JSON formatting for an object (item, item.field, item.login, etc.):

    bw get template (item|item.field|item.login|item.login.uri|item.card|item.identity|item.securenote|folder|collection|item-collections|org-collection)
    

    While you can use get template to output the format to your screen, the most common use-case is to pipe the output into a bw create operation, using a command-line JSON processor like jq and bw encode to manipulate the values retrieved from the template, for example:

    bw get template folder | jq '.name="My First Folder"' | bw encode | bw create folder
    
    Note

    Any item.xxx template should be used as a sub-object to an item template, for example:

    bw get template item | jq ".name=\"My Login Item\" | .login=$(bw get template item.login | jq '.username="jdoe" | .password="[email protected]"')" | bw encode | bw create item
    

    edit

    The edit command edits an object (item, item-collections, etc.) in your Vault:

    bw edit (item|item-collections|folder|org-collection) <id> [encodedJson] [options]
    

    The edit command takes an exact id (the object to edit) and encoded JSON (edits to be made). A typical workflow might look something like:

    1. Use the get command (see details) to output the object to edit.
    2. Use a command-line JSON processor like jq to manipulate the outputted object as required.
    3. Use the encode command (see details) to encode the manipulated JSON.
    4. Use the edit command (including the object id) to edit the object.

    For example:

    bw get item 7ac9cae8-5067-4faf-b6ab-acfd00e2c328 | jq '.login.password="[email protected]"' | bw encode | bw edit item 7ac9cae8-5067-4faf-b6ab-acfd00e2c328
    

    The edit command will perform a replace operation on the object. Upon success, the updated object will be returned as JSON.

    list

    The list command retrieves an array of objects (items, folders, collections, etc.) from your Vault:

    bw list (items|folders|collections|organizations|org-collections|org-members) [options]
    

    Options for the list command are filters used to dictate what will be returned, including --url <url>, --folderid <folderid>, --collectionid <collectionid>, --organizationid <organizationid> and --trash. Any filter will accept null or notnull. Combining multiple filters in one command will perform a logical OR operation, for example:

    bw list items --folderid null --collectionid null
    

    This command will return items that are not in a folder or Collection.

    Additionally, you can search for specific objects using --search <search-term>. Combining filter and search in one command will perform a logical AND operation, for example:

    bw list items --search github --folderid 9742101e-68b8-4a07-b5b1-9578b5f88e6f
    

    This command will search for items with the string github in the specified folder.

    delete

    The delete command deletes an object from your Vault. delete takes only an exact id for its argument.

    bw delete (item|attachment|folder|org-collection) <id> [options]
    

    By default, delete will “soft delete” an item (i.e. send it to the Trash). You can permanently delete an item using the -p, --permanent option.

    bw delete item 7063feab-4b10-472e-b64c-785e2b870b92 --permanent
    
    Warning

    While items that are “soft deleted” using delete can be recovered using the restore command (see details), items that are deleted using delete --permanent are completely removed and irrecoverable.

    restore

    The restore command restores a deleted object from your Trash. restore takes only an exact id for its argument.

    bw restore (item) <id> [options]
    

    For example:

    bw restore item 7063feab-4b10-472e-b64c-785e2b870b92
    

    send

    The send command creates a Bitwarden Send object for ephemeral sharing. This section will detail simple send operations, however Send is a highly flexible tool and we recommend referring to the dedicated article on Send from CLI.

    To create a simple text Send:

    bw send -n "My First Send" -d 7 --hidden "The contents of my first text Send."
    

    To create a simple file Send:

    bw send -n "A Sensitive File" -d 14 -f /Users/my_account/Documents/sensitive_file.pdf
    

    receive

    The receive command accesses a Bitwarden Send object. To receive a Send object:

    bw receive --password passwordforaccess https://vault.bitwarden.com/#/send/yawoill8rk6VM6zCATXv2A/9WN8wD-hzsDJjfnXLeNc2Q
    

    Organizations Commands

    Organization IDs

    Accessing an Organization from the CLI frequently requires knowledge of an ID for your Organization, as well as IDs for individual members and Collections.

    Retrieve this information directly from the CLI using bw list, for example:

    bw list organizations
    bw list org-members --organizationid 4016326f-98b6-42ff-b9fc-ac63014988f5
    bw list org-collections --organizationid 4016326f-98b6-42ff-b9fc-ac63014988f5
    
    Tip

    You can bw list both collections and org-collections. bw list collections will list all Collections, agnostic of which Organization they belong to. bw list org-collections will list only Collections that belong to the Organization specified using --organizationid.

    share

    The share command transfers a Vault item to an Organization:

    bw share <itemid> <organizationid> [encodedJson]
    

    The share command requires you to encode a Collection ID, and takes an exact id (the object to share) and an exact organizationid (the Organization to share the object to). For example:

    echo '["bq209461-4129-4b8d-b760-acd401474va2"]' | bw encode | bw share ed42f44c-f81f-48de-a123-ad01013132ca dfghbc921-04eb-43a7-84b1-ac74013bqb2e
    

    Upon success, the updated item will be returned.

    confirm

    The confirm command confirms invited members to your Organization who have accepted their invitation:

    bw confirm org-member <id> --organizationid <orgid>
    

    The confirm command takes an exact member id and an exact organizationID, for example:

    bw confirm org-member 7063feab-4b10-472e-b64c-785e2b870b92 --organizationid 310d5ffd-e9a2-4451-af87-ea054dce0f78
    

    Other Commands

    config

    The config command specifies settings for the Bitwarden CLI to use:

    bw config <setting> [value]
    

    A primary use of bw config is to connect your CLI to a self-hosted Bitwarden server:

    bw config server https://your.bw.domain.com
    
    Tip

    You can read the currently connected server by passing bw config server without a value.

    Users with unique setups may elect to specify the URL of each service independently using:

    bw config --web-vault <url>
    bw config --api <url>
    bw config --identity <url>
    bw config --icons <url>
    bw config --notifications <url>
    bw config --events <url>
    

    sync

    The sync command downloads your encrypted vault from the Bitwarden server. This command is most useful when you’ve changed something in your Bitwarden Vault on another client application (e.g. Web Vault, Browser Extension, Mobile App) since logging in on the CLI.

    bw sync
    

    You can pass the --last option to return only the timestamp (ISO 8601) of the last time a sync was performed.

    Tip

    It’s important to know that sync only performs a pull from the server. Data is automatically pushed to the server any time you make a change to your Vault (e.g. create, edit, delete).

    encode

    The encode command Base 64 encodes stdin. This command is typically used in combination with a command-line JSON processor like jq when performing create and edit operations, for example:

    bw get template folder | jq '.name="My First Folder"' | bw encode | bw create folder
    
    bw get item 7ac9cae8-5067-4faf-b6ab-acfd00e2c328 | jq '.login.password="[email protected]"' | bw encode | bw edit item 7ac9cae8-5067-4faf-b6ab-acfd00e2c328
    

    import

    The import command imports data from a prior Bitwarden export or other supported password management application:

    bw import <format> <path>
    

    For example:

    bw import lastpasscsv /Users/myaccount/Documents/mydata.csv
    
    Tip

    Bitwarden supports lots of formats for import, too many to list here! Use bw import --formats to return the list in your CLI, or see here.

    export

    The export command exports Vault data as a .json or .csv, or encrypted .json file:

    bw export [password] [--output <filePath>] [--format <format>] [--organizationid <orgid>]
    

    The export command always requires your Master Password, even with an active session key.

    By default, the export command will generate a .csv (equivalent to specifying --format csv) to the current working directory, however you can specify:

    • --format json to export a .json file.
    • --format encrypted_json to export an encrypted .json file.
    • --output <path> to export to a specific location.
    • --raw to return the export to stdout instead of to a file.

    export an Organization Vault

    Using the export command with the --organizationid option, you can export an Organization Vault:

    bw export [email protected] --organizationid 7063feab-4b10-472e-b64c-785e2b870b92 --format json --output /Users/myaccount/Downloads/
    

    generate

    The generate command generates a strong password or passphrase:

    bw generate [--lowercase --uppercase --number --special --length <length> --passphrase --separator <separator> --words <words>]
    

    By default, the generate command will generate a 14-character password with uppercase characters, lowercase characters, and numbers. This is the equivalent of passing:

    bw generate -uln --length 14
    

    You can generate more complex passwords using the options available to the command, including:

    • --uppercase, -u (include uppercase)
    • --lowercase, -l (include lowercase)
    • --number, -n (include numbers)
    • --special, -s (include special characters)
    • --length <length> (length of the password, min. of 5)

    generate a passphrase

    Using the generate command with the --passphrase option, you can generate a passphrase instead of a password:

    bw generate --passphrase --words <words> --separator <separator>
    

    By default, bw generate --passphrase will generate a 3-word passphrase separated by a dash (-). This is the equivalent of passing:

    bw generate --passphrase --words 3 --separator -
    

    You can generate a complex passphrase using the options available to the command, including:

    • --words <words> (number of words)
    • --separator <separator> (separator character)

    update

    The update command checks whether your Bitwarden CLI is running the most recent version. update does not automatically update the CLI for you.

    bw update
    

    If a new version is detected, you’ll need to download the new version of the CLI using the printed URL for the executable, or using the tools available for the package manager you used to download the CLI (e.g. npm install -g @bitwarden/cli).

    status

    The status command returns status information about the Bitwarden CLI, including configured server URL, timestamp for the last sync (ISO 8601), user email and ID, and the Vault status.

    bw status
    

    Status will return information as a JSON object, for example:

    {
      "serverUrl": "https://bitwarden.example.com",
      "lastSync": "2020-06-16T06:33:51.419Z",
      "userEmail": "[email protected]",
      "userId": "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000",
      "status": "unlocked"
    }
    

    status may be one of the following:

    • "unlocked", indicating you are logged in and your Vault is unlocked (i.e. a BW_SESSION key environment variable is saved with an active session key).
    • "locked", indicating you are logged in but your Vault is locked (i.e. no BW_SESSION key environment variable is saved with an active session key)
    • "unauthenticated", indicating you aren’t logged in.
    Tip

    When "status": "unauthenticated", lastSync, userEmail, and userID will always return null.

    Appendices

    Global Options

    The following options are available globally:

    Option Description
    --pretty Format output. JSON is tabbed with two spaces.
    --raw Return raw output instead of a descriptive message.
    --response Return a JSON formatted version of response output.
    --quiet Don’t return anything to stdout.
    --nointeraction Do not prompt for interactive user input.
    --session <session> Pass session key instead of reading from an environment variable.
    -v, --version Output the Bitwarden CLI version number.
    -h, --help Display help text for the command.

    ZSH Shell Completion

    The Bitwarden CLI includes support for ZSH shell completion. To setup shell completion, use one of the following methods:

    1. Vanilla ZSH: Add the following line to your .zshrc file:

      eval "$(bw completion --shell zsh); compdef _bw bw;"
      
    2. Vanilla (vendor-completions): Run the following command:

      bw completion --shell zsh | sudo tee /usr/share/zsh/vendor-completions/_bw
      
    3. zinit: Run the following commands:

      bw completion --shell zsh > ~/.local/share/zsh/completions/_bw
      zinit creinstall ~/.local/share/zsh/completions
      

    Using Self-signed Certificates

    If your self-hosted Bitwarden server exposes as self-signed TLS certificate, specify the Node.js environment variable NODE_EXTRA_CA_CERTS:

    Bash

    export NODE_EXTRA_CA_CERTS="absolute/path/to/your/certificates.pem"
    

    PowerShell

    $env:NODE_EXTRA_CA_CERTS="absolute/path/to/your/certificates.pem"
    

    Enums

    The following tables enumerate values required in documented scenarios:

    Two-step Login Methods

    Used to specify which Two-step Login method to use when logging in:

    Name Value
    Authenticator 0
    Email 1
    Yubikey 3
    Note

    FIDO2 and Duo are not supported by the CLI.

    Item Types

    Used with the create command to specify a Vault item type:

    Name Value
    Login 1
    Secure Note 2
    Card 3
    Identity 4

    Login URI Match Types

    Used with the create and edit commands to specify URI match detection behavior:

    Name Value
    Domain 0
    Host 1
    Starts With 2
    Exact 3
    Regular Expression 4
    Never 5

    Field Types

    Used with the create and edit commands to configure custom fields:

    Name Value
    Text 0
    Hidden 1
    Boolean 2

    Organization User Types

    Indicates a user’s type:

    Name Value
    Owner 0
    Admin 1
    User 2
    Manager 3

    Organization User Statuses

    Indicates a user’s status within the Organization:

    Name Value
    Invited 0
    Accepted 1
    Confirmed 2