Pull an Image from a Private Registry

This page shows how to create a Pod that uses a Secret to pull an image from a private Docker registry or repository.

Before you begin

  • You need to have a Kubernetes cluster, and the kubectl command-line tool must be configured to communicate with your cluster. If you do not already have a cluster, you can create one by using Minikube, or you can use one of these Kubernetes playgrounds:

    To check the version, enter kubectl version.

  • To do this exercise, you need a Docker ID and password.

Log in to Docker

On your laptop, you must authenticate with a registry in order to pull a private image:

docker login

When prompted, enter your Docker username and password.

The login process creates or updates a config.json file that holds an authorization token.

View the config.json file:

cat ~/.docker/config.json

The output contains a section similar to this:

    "auths": {
        "https://index.docker.io/v1/": {
            "auth": "c3R...zE2"
Note: If you use a Docker credentials store, you won't see that auth entry but a credsStore entry with the name of the store as value.

Create a Secret based on existing Docker credentials

A Kubernetes cluster uses the Secret of docker-registry type to authenticate with a container registry to pull a private image.

If you already ran docker login, you can copy that credential into Kubernetes:

kubectl create secret generic regcred \
    --from-file=.dockerconfigjson=<path/to/.docker/config.json> \

If you need more control (for example, to set a namespace or a label on the new secret) then you can customise the Secret before storing it. Be sure to:

  • set the name of the data item to .dockerconfigjson
  • base64 encode the docker file and paste that string, unbroken as the value for field data[".dockerconfigjson"]
  • set type to kubernetes.io/dockerconfigjson


apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
  name: myregistrykey
  namespace: awesomeapps
  .dockerconfigjson: UmVhbGx5IHJlYWxseSByZWVlZWVlZWVlZWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYWxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGx5eXl5eXl5eXl5eXl5eXl5eXl5eSBsbGxsbGxsbGxsbGxsbG9vb29vb29vb29vb29vb29vb29vb29vb29vb25ubm5ubm5ubm5ubm5ubm5ubm5ubm5ubmdnZ2dnZ2dnZ2dnZ2dnZ2dnZ2cgYXV0aCBrZXlzCg==
type: kubernetes.io/dockerconfigjson

If you get the error message error: no objects passed to create, it may mean the base64 encoded string is invalid. If you get an error message like Secret "myregistrykey" is invalid: data[.dockerconfigjson]: invalid value ..., it means the base64 encoded string in the data was successfully decoded, but could not be parsed as a .docker/config.json file.

Create a Secret by providing credentials on the command line

Create this Secret, naming it regcred:

kubectl create secret docker-registry regcred --docker-server=<your-registry-server> --docker-username=<your-name> --docker-password=<your-pword> --docker-email=<your-email>


  • <your-registry-server> is your Private Docker Registry FQDN. (https://index.docker.io/v1/ for DockerHub)
  • <your-name> is your Docker username.
  • <your-pword> is your Docker password.
  • <your-email> is your Docker email.

You have successfully set your Docker credentials in the cluster as a Secret called regcred.

Note: Typing secrets on the command line may store them in your shell history unprotected, and those secrets might also be visible to other users on your PC during the time that kubectl is running.

Inspecting the Secret regcred

To understand the contents of the regcred Secret you just created, start by viewing the Secret in YAML format:

kubectl get secret regcred --output=yaml

The output is similar to this:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
  name: regcred
  .dockerconfigjson: eyJodHRwczovL2luZGV4L ... J0QUl6RTIifX0=
type: kubernetes.io/dockerconfigjson

The value of the .dockerconfigjson field is a base64 representation of your Docker credentials.

To understand what is in the .dockerconfigjson field, convert the secret data to a readable format:

kubectl get secret regcred --output="jsonpath={.data.\.dockerconfigjson}" | base64 --decode

The output is similar to this:


To understand what is in the auth field, convert the base64-encoded data to a readable format:

echo "c3R...zE2" | base64 --decode

The output, username and password concatenated with a :, is similar to this:


Notice that the Secret data contains the authorization token similar to your local ~/.docker/config.json file.

You have successfully set your Docker credentials as a Secret called regcred in the cluster.

Create a Pod that uses your Secret

Here is a configuration file for a Pod that needs access to your Docker credentials in regcred:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: private-reg
  - name: private-reg-container
    image: <your-private-image>
  - name: regcred

Download the above file:

wget -O my-private-reg-pod.yaml https://k8s.io/examples/pods/private-reg-pod.yaml

In file my-private-reg-pod.yaml, replace <your-private-image> with the path to an image in a private registry such as:


To pull the image from the private registry, Kubernetes needs credentials. The imagePullSecrets field in the configuration file specifies that Kubernetes should get the credentials from a Secret named regcred.

Create a Pod that uses your Secret, and verify that the Pod is running:

kubectl apply -f my-private-reg-pod.yaml
kubectl get pod private-reg

What's next

Last modified May 30, 2020 at 3:10 PM PST: add en pages (ecc27bbbe)