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 container image registry or repository. There are many private registries in use. This task uses Docker Hub as an example registry.

Before you begin

  • You need to have a Kubernetes cluster, and the kubectl command-line tool must be configured to communicate with your cluster. It is recommended to run this tutorial on a cluster with at least two nodes that are not acting as control plane hosts. 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 do this exercise, you need the docker command line tool, and a Docker ID for which you know the password.

  • If you are using a different private container registry, you need the command line tool for that registry and any login information for the registry.

Log in to Docker Hub

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

Use the docker tool to log in to Docker Hub. See the log in section of Docker ID accounts for more information.

docker login

When prompted, enter your Docker ID, and then the credential you want to use (access token, or the password for your Docker ID).

The login process creates or updates a config.json file that holds an authorization token. Review how Kubernetes interprets this file.

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"

Create a Secret based on existing credentials

A Kubernetes cluster uses the Secret of kubernetes.io/dockerconfigjson 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 configuration file and then 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. Use 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.

Inspecting the Secret regcred

To understand the contents of the regcred Secret you 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 manifest for an example 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 onto your computer:

curl -L -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

Also, in case the Pod fails to start with the status ImagePullBackOff, view the Pod events:

kubectl describe pod private-reg

If you then see an event with the reason set to FailedToRetrieveImagePullSecret, Kubernetes can't find a Secret with name (regcred, in this example). If you specify that a Pod needs image pull credentials, the kubelet checks that it can access that Secret before attempting to pull the image.

Make sure that the Secret you have specified exists, and that its name is spelled properly.

  ...  Reason                           ...  Message
       ------                                -------
  ...  FailedToRetrieveImagePullSecret  ...  Unable to retrieve some image pull secrets (<regcred>); attempting to pull the image may not succeed.

What's next

Items on this page refer to third party products or projects that provide functionality required by Kubernetes. The Kubernetes project authors aren't responsible for those third-party products or projects. See the CNCF website guidelines for more details.

You should read the content guide before proposing a change that adds an extra third-party link.

Last modified December 24, 2023 at 9:00 PM PST: fix typos (d536e46dbd)