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Install and Set Up kubectl on macOS

Before you begin

You must use a kubectl version that is within one minor version difference of your cluster. For example, a v1.22 client can communicate with v1.21, v1.22, and v1.23 control planes. Using the latest compatible version of kubectl helps avoid unforeseen issues.

Install kubectl on macOS

The following methods exist for installing kubectl on macOS:

Install kubectl binary with curl on macOS

  1. Download the latest release:

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/amd64/kubectl"
       

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/arm64/kubectl"
       
  2. Validate the binary (optional)

    Download the kubectl checksum file:

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/amd64/kubectl.sha256"
       

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/arm64/kubectl.sha256"
       

    Validate the kubectl binary against the checksum file:

    echo "$(<kubectl.sha256)  kubectl" | shasum -a 256 --check
    

    If valid, the output is:

    kubectl: OK
    

    If the check fails, shasum exits with nonzero status and prints output similar to:

    kubectl: FAILED
    shasum: WARNING: 1 computed checksum did NOT match
    
  3. Make the kubectl binary executable.

    chmod +x ./kubectl
    
  4. Move the kubectl binary to a file location on your system PATH.

    sudo mv ./kubectl /usr/local/bin/kubectl
    sudo chown root: /usr/local/bin/kubectl
    
  5. Test to ensure the version you installed is up-to-date:

    kubectl version --client
    

Install with Homebrew on macOS

If you are on macOS and using Homebrew package manager, you can install kubectl with Homebrew.

  1. Run the installation command:

    brew install kubectl 
    

    or

    brew install kubernetes-cli
    
  2. Test to ensure the version you installed is up-to-date:

    kubectl version --client
    

Install with Macports on macOS

If you are on macOS and using Macports package manager, you can install kubectl with Macports.

  1. Run the installation command:

    sudo port selfupdate
    sudo port install kubectl
    
  2. Test to ensure the version you installed is up-to-date:

    kubectl version --client
    

Verify kubectl configuration

In order for kubectl to find and access a Kubernetes cluster, it needs a kubeconfig file, which is created automatically when you create a cluster using kube-up.sh or successfully deploy a Minikube cluster. By default, kubectl configuration is located at ~/.kube/config.

Check that kubectl is properly configured by getting the cluster state:

kubectl cluster-info

If you see a URL response, kubectl is correctly configured to access your cluster.

If you see a message similar to the following, kubectl is not configured correctly or is not able to connect to a Kubernetes cluster.

The connection to the server <server-name:port> was refused - did you specify the right host or port?

For example, if you are intending to run a Kubernetes cluster on your laptop (locally), you will need a tool like Minikube to be installed first and then re-run the commands stated above.

If kubectl cluster-info returns the url response but you can't access your cluster, to check whether it is configured properly, use:

kubectl cluster-info dump

Optional kubectl configurations and plugins

Enable shell autocompletion

kubectl provides autocompletion support for Bash and Zsh, which can save you a lot of typing.

Below are the procedures to set up autocompletion for Bash and Zsh.

Introduction

The kubectl completion script for Bash can be generated with kubectl completion bash. Sourcing this script in your shell enables kubectl completion.

However, the kubectl completion script depends on bash-completion which you thus have to previously install.

Upgrade Bash

The instructions here assume you use Bash 4.1+. You can check your Bash's version by running:

echo $BASH_VERSION

If it is too old, you can install/upgrade it using Homebrew:

brew install bash

Reload your shell and verify that the desired version is being used:

echo $BASH_VERSION $SHELL

Homebrew usually installs it at /usr/local/bin/bash.

Install bash-completion

You can test if you have bash-completion v2 already installed with type _init_completion. If not, you can install it with Homebrew:

brew install bash-completion@2

As stated in the output of this command, add the following to your ~/.bash_profile file:

export BASH_COMPLETION_COMPAT_DIR="/usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d"
[[ -r "/usr/local/etc/profile.d/bash_completion.sh" ]] && . "/usr/local/etc/profile.d/bash_completion.sh"

Reload your shell and verify that bash-completion v2 is correctly installed with type _init_completion.

Enable kubectl autocompletion

You now have to ensure that the kubectl completion script gets sourced in all your shell sessions. There are multiple ways to achieve this:

  • Source the completion script in your ~/.bash_profile file:

    echo 'source <(kubectl completion bash)' >>~/.bash_profile
    
  • Add the completion script to the /usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d directory:

    kubectl completion bash >/usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d/kubectl
    
  • If you have an alias for kubectl, you can extend shell completion to work with that alias:

    echo 'alias k=kubectl' >>~/.bash_profile
    echo 'complete -F __start_kubectl k' >>~/.bash_profile
    
  • If you installed kubectl with Homebrew (as explained here), then the kubectl completion script should already be in /usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d/kubectl. In that case, you don't need to do anything.

In any case, after reloading your shell, kubectl completion should be working.

The kubectl completion script for Zsh can be generated with the command kubectl completion zsh. Sourcing the completion script in your shell enables kubectl autocompletion.

To do so in all your shell sessions, add the following to your ~/.zshrc file:

source <(kubectl completion zsh)

If you have an alias for kubectl, you can extend shell completion to work with that alias:

echo 'alias k=kubectl' >>~/.zshrc
echo 'compdef __start_kubectl k' >>~/.zshrc

After reloading your shell, kubectl autocompletion should be working.

If you get an error like complete:13: command not found: compdef, then add the following to the beginning of your ~/.zshrc file:

autoload -Uz compinit
compinit

Install kubectl convert plugin

A plugin for Kubernetes command-line tool kubectl, which allows you to convert manifests between different API versions. This can be particularly helpful to migrate manifests to a non-deprecated api version with newer Kubernetes release. For more info, visit migrate to non deprecated apis

  1. Download the latest release with the command:

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/amd64/kubectl-convert"
       

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/arm64/kubectl-convert"
       
  2. Validate the binary (optional)

    Download the kubectl-convert checksum file:

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/amd64/kubectl-convert.sha256"
       

    
       curl -LO "https://dl.k8s.io/release/$(curl -L -s https://dl.k8s.io/release/stable.txt)/bin/darwin/arm64/kubectl-convert.sha256"
       

    Validate the kubectl-convert binary against the checksum file:

    echo "$(<kubectl-convert.sha256)  kubectl-convert" | shasum -a 256 --check
    

    If valid, the output is:

    kubectl-convert: OK
    

    If the check fails, shasum exits with nonzero status and prints output similar to:

    kubectl-convert: FAILED
    shasum: WARNING: 1 computed checksum did NOT match
    
  3. Make kubectl-convert binary executable

    chmod +x ./kubectl-convert
    
  4. Move the kubectl-convert binary to a file location on your system PATH.

    sudo mv ./kubectl-convert /usr/local/bin/kubectl-convert
    sudo chown root: /usr/local/bin/kubectl-convert
    
  5. Verify plugin is successfully installed

    kubectl convert --help
    

    If you do not see an error, it means the plugin is successfully installed.

What's next

Last modified October 13, 2021 at 1:25 AM PST : Tweak advice about kubectl skew (cccf7b210)