API keys

API keys allow access to the Elastic Stack on behalf of a user.

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API keys are security mechanisms used to authenticate and authorize access to Elastic Stack resources, and ensure that only authorized users or applications are able to interact with the Elastic Stack.

For example, if you extract data from an Elasticsearch cluster on a daily basis, you might create an API key tied to your credentials, configure it with minimum access, and then put the API credentials into a cron job. Or, you might create API keys to automate ingestion of new data from remote sources, without a live user interaction.

You can manage your keys in Project settingsManagementAPI keys:

A personal API key allows external services to access the Elastic Stack on behalf of a user.

A managed API key is created and managed by Kibana to correctly run background tasks.

Create an API key

In API keys, click Create API key:

Once created, you can copy the encoded API key and use it to send requests to the Elasticsearch HTTP API. For example:

curl "${ES_URL}" \
-H "Authorization: ApiKey ${API_KEY}"


API keys are intended for programmatic access. Don't use API keys to authenticate access using a web browser.

Restrict privileges

When you create or update an API key, use Restrict privileges to limit the permissions. Define the permissions using a JSON role_descriptors object, where you specify one or more roles and the associated privileges.

For example, the following role_descriptors object defines a books-read-only role that limits the API key to read privileges on the books index.

  "books-read-only": {
    "cluster": [],
    "indices": [
        "names": ["books"],
        "privileges": ["read"]
    "applications": [],
    "run_as": [],
    "metadata": {},
    "transient_metadata": {
      "enabled": true

For the role_descriptors object schema, check out the /_security/api_key endpoint docs. For supported privileges, check Security privileges.

Update an API key

In API keys, click on the name of the key. You can update only Restrict privileges and Include metadata.

View and delete API keys

The API keys app lists your API keys, including the name, date created, and status. When API keys expire, the status changes from Active to Expired.

You can delete API keys individually or in bulk.

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