The Ultimate Guide to Google Cloud CLI: How to Use It Like a Pro 

Google Cloud CLI, or Command Line Interface, is a robust command-line tool for administering and communicating with Google Cloud Platform services. 

Learning Google Cloud CLI is vital for developers, system administrators, and anybody else looking to automate operations and boost productivity. 

By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of how to use Google Cloud CLI to manage and deploy applications in the cloud.

Getting Started with Google Cloud CLI

Google Cloud CLI is a command-line interface for administering and interacting with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services from the terminal. 

It enables users to execute operations like resource creation and management, application deployment, and data analysis without the usage of a graphical user interface.

Benefits of Using Google Cloud CLI

  • Increased Productivity: CLI allows users to automate processes like establishing resources, defining permissions, and deploying apps, saving time and increasing productivity.

  • Flexibility: The CLI is more flexible than the online console, allowing users to tailor commands to their requirements.

  • Better Control: CLI allows users to more accurately manage resources and configurations, giving them more control over their cloud environment. 

How to Install Google Cloud CLI

  • Download and install the Google Cloud SDK: The Cloud SDK offers the gcloud command-line utility for interacting with GCP services.

  • Check the installation: After installing the Cloud SDK, launch a terminal window and type: gcloud version. If the installation was successful, the installed version of gcloud should be shown.

Configuring Google Cloud CLI authentication 

To use Google Cloud CLI, you must first authenticate with GCP. The simplest method to accomplish this is to log in to your GCP account using the gcloud command-line tool. Follow these procedures to verify yourself:

  • Open a terminal window and type the following command: gcloud auth login.

  • Log in to your GCP account by following the steps.

  • Upon your login, gcloud will generate an access token that will allow you to communicate with GCP services through the CLI.

  • Now that you've installed Google Cloud CLI and authenticated with GCP, you can use the CLI to control your cloud resources.

Basic Commands in Google Cloud CLI

Google Cloud CLI provides a collection of fundamental commands for managing resources and interacting with GCP services.

In this part, we'll go over some of the most widely used commands and their syntax, as well as some examples of how to utilize them.

  • gcloud init: 

    Use this command to connect the gcloud CLI to your GCP project. It invites you to select a default GCP project and configures your CLI with project-specific options. This command's syntax is: gcloud init

  • gcloud projects list: 

    This command displays a list of all GCP projects to which you have access. This command's syntax is: gcloud projects list

  • gcloud compute instances create:

    This command is used to launch a new GCP virtual machine instance. This command's syntax is:

    gcloud compute instances create [INSTANCE_NAME]

    --zone [ZONE]

    --machine-type [MACHINE_TYPE]

    --image-family [IMAGE_FAMILY]

    --image-project [IMAGE_PROJECT]

  • gcloud compute ssh: 

    This command establishes an SSH connection to a GCP virtual machine instance. This command's syntax is: 

    gcloud compute ssh [INSTANCE_NAME] --zone [ZONE]

  • gcloud compute instances list: 

    This command displays a list of all the virtual machine instances that are currently operating on GCP. This command's syntax is: 

    gcloud compute instances list

These fundamental commands can be quite useful for controlling your GCP resources from the command line.

You may simply build, manage, and monitor virtual machine instances using these commands, as well as show the projects and instances linked with your account. 

These commands can help you save time and increase productivity while working with large and complex cloud infrastructures.

Advanced Commands in Google Cloud CLI 

In addition to the fundamental commands covered, Google Cloud CLI offers a collection of advanced commands for performing more complex activities and managing advanced GCP services.

This part will go through some of the more advanced commands, including their syntax and examples are:

  • gcloud container clusters create: 

    This command is used to set up a Kubernetes cluster on the Google Cloud Platform. This command's syntax is:

    gcloud container clusters create [CLUSTER_NAME]

    --zone [ZONE]

    --machine-type [MACHINE_TYPE]

    --num-nodes [NUM_NODES]

  • gcloud sql instances create: 

    This command is used to launch a Cloud SQL instance on the Google Cloud Platform. This command's syntax is:

    gcloud sql instances create [INSTANCE_NAME]

    --database-version [DATABASE_VERSION]

    --tier [INSTANCE_TIER]

    --region [REGION]

  • gcloud dataproc clusters create: 

    This command is used to create a Cloud Dataproc cluster on GCP. The syntax for this command is:

    gcloud dataproc clusters create [CLUSTER_NAME]

    --region [REGION]

    --subnet [SUBNET_NAME]

    --zone [ZONE]

    --master-machine-type [MACHINE_TYPE]

    --master-boot-disk-size [BOOT_DISK_SIZE]

    --num-workers [NUM_WORKERS]

    --worker-machine-type [MACHINE_TYPE]

    --worker-boot-disk-size [BOOT_DISK_SIZE]


    gcloud dataproc clusters create my-cluster

    --region us-central1

    --subnet my-subnet

    --zone us-central1-a

    --master-machine-type n1-standard-2

    --master-boot-disk-size 100

    --num-workers 2

    --worker-machine-type n1-standard-2

    --worker-boot-disk-size 100

These advanced commands can be very helpful in managing more complex GCP environments, such as Kubernetes clusters, Cloud SQL instances, and Cloud Dataproc clusters. 

By using these commands, you can easily create and manage these advanced GCP services, as well as configure their settings and properties.

These commands can save time and improve productivity, especially when working with larger and more complex cloud environments.

Google Cloud CLI Use Cases 

Google Cloud CLI is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Here are some common use cases for Google Cloud CLI:

Creating and managing virtual machines

  • Quickly create and manage virtual machines on GCP using the command line interface.

  • Ability to configure settings and properties of virtual machines easily.

  • Can be useful for creating multiple virtual machines at once, rather than manually through the GCP console.

Managing storage buckets 

  • Create and manage storage buckets in Google Cloud Storage.

  • Ability to upload and download files to/from storage buckets through CLI.

  • Useful for automating backups or batch file uploads/downloads.

Managing Kubernetes clusters

  • Create and manage Kubernetes clusters on GCP using the command line interface.

  • Ability to configure cluster settings and properties through CLI.

  • Useful for automating tasks such as scaling up/down, creating new deployments, or checking pod statuses

Managing Cloud SQL instances

  • Create and manage Cloud SQL instances on GCP using CLI.

  • Ability to configure instance settings and properties through CLI.

  • Useful for automating tasks such as backup scheduling or creating new databases.

Google Cloud CLI for Deployment  

Applications can be deployed to the Google Cloud Platform using the Google Cloud CLI (GCP). Here are some instructions for using Google Cloud CLI for deployment and the advantages of doing so.   

Advantages of deploying with Google Cloud CLI

  • Simplified deployment process: CLI enables easy and automatic application deployment, which can save a significant amount of time when compared to manual deployment.

  • More control and customization: The CLI enables more precise control over the deployment process as well as the environment's customization.

  • Increased adaptability: CLI can be used in conjunction with other tools and processes as well as for deployment from any terminal.

Step-by-Step Guide to Deploy an Application Using Google Cloud CLI

  1. 1

    Create a new project on GCP using gcloud projects create command, specifying the project name and billing account. 

  2. 2

    Enable required APIs for the project using gcloud services enable command, specifying the API name. 

  3. 3

    Configure the deployment environment by creating a deployment configuration file (e.g. app.yaml for App Engine) that specifies the application runtime and other necessary settings.

  4. 4

    Deploy the application using gcloud app deploy command, specifying the deployment configuration file path, and optionally other settings such as version or region.

  5. 5

    View deployment status and logs using gcloud app browse command to check the deployed application or gcloud app logs tail command to see real-time logs.

Google Cloud CLI for Networking 

The Google Cloud Platform's networking can be configured and managed via the Google Cloud CLI (GCP). Here is an overview of the advantages of using Google Cloud CLI for networking, as well as how to do it quickly.

Using Google Cloud CLI for Networking has the following advantages:

  • Automated and streamlined configuration: When compared to manual configuration, CLI makes it possible to automate and streamline the configuration of networking resources.

  • Fine-grained control and customization: CLI enables customization of the networking environment as well as fine-grained control over networking resources.

  • Increased adaptability: CLI can be used in conjunction with other tools and procedures as well as from any terminal to configure and maintain networking.

Step-by-Step Guide to Configure and Manage Networking Using Google  Cloud CLI

  1. 1

    Create a VPC network using gcloud compute networks and create a command, specifying the network name, subnet mode, and other settings.

  2. 2

    Create subnets within the VPC network using gcloud compute networks subnets create command, specifying the subnet name, IP range, and other settings.

  3. 3

    Create firewall rules to allow or deny traffic to the VPC network using gcloud compute firewall-rules create command, specifying the rule name, direction, protocol, and other settings.

  4. 4

    Configure VPN tunnels or interconnects to connect the VPC network to on-premises networks or other networks in GCP using gcloud compute VPN-tunnels.

  5. 5

    View and manage network resources using various gcloud compute commands, such as gcloud compute networks list to list all networks in a project, or gcloud compute routes to create custom routes.

Best Practices for Using Google Cloud CLI 

Here are some tips and tactics for properly using Google Cloud CLI, as well as best practices for security and maintenance. 

Tips and Tricks for Using Google Cloud CLI Effectively

  • Creating aliases for frequently used commands can save a lot of time and avoid typing errors.

  • Get acquainted with the available flags for commands in order to personalize and fine-tune the command's behavior.

  • Pipes and redirects can be used to chain commands and redirect their output to files or other commands.

  • Use scripts to automate repetitive operations or complex workflows by combining several commands and parameters.

  • Tab completion can be used to swiftly complete commands, flags, and resource names.

Mistakes to Avoid when Using Google Cloud CLI

  • Never run commands with root privileges if absolutely essential, as this can result in unexpected modifications or infrastructure damage.

  • Avoid making changes directly in production environments by utilizing version control to track changes made to the infrastructure using Google Cloud CLI.

  • Although Google Cloud CLI offers a strong interface for managing GCP resources, Google Cloud Console is advised for some operations like visualizing resource relationships or troubleshooting.

Best Practices for Security and Maintenance of Google Cloud CLI

  • Use service accounts: Use service accounts and least privilege access to limit the scope of access granted to Google Cloud CLI.

  • Rotate credentials regularly: Rotate the credentials used by Google Cloud CLI regularly to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

  • Enable audit logging: Enable audit logging to track and monitor changes made by Google Cloud CLI and detect any potential security breaches.

  • Keep the CLI updated: Keep the Google Cloud CLI updated with the latest version and security patches to avoid vulnerabilities and ensure compatibility with the latest GCP features and APIs. 


Finally, Google Cloud CLI is a must-have tool for managing and deploying resources on the Google Cloud Platform. Its extensive set of features and functionalities can significantly boost productivity and decrease manual errors. 

If you aren't currently utilizing Google Cloud CLI, we encourage you to give it a shot and see for yourself. It is a crucial tool for any developer or system administrator working with the Google Cloud Platform because of its ease of use and flexibility. 

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of

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