Install and Set Up kubectl on Windows

Before you begin

You must use a kubectl version that is within one minor version difference of your cluster. For example, a v1.2 client should work with v1.1, v1.2, and v1.3 master. Using the latest version of kubectl helps avoid unforeseen issues.

Install kubectl on Windows

The following methods exist for installing kubectl on Windows:

Install kubectl binary with curl on Windows

  1. Download the latest release v1.21.0.

    Or if you have curl installed, use this command:

    curl -LO
    Note: To find out the latest stable version (for example, for scripting), take a look at
  2. Validate the binary (optional)

    Download the kubectl checksum file:

    curl -LO

    Validate the kubectl binary against the checksum file:

    • Using Command Prompt to manually compare CertUtil's output to the checksum file downloaded:

      CertUtil -hashfile kubectl.exe SHA256
      type kubectl.exe.sha256
    • Using PowerShell to automate the verification using the -eq operator to get a True or False result:

      $($(CertUtil -hashfile .\kubectl.exe SHA256)[1] -replace " ", "") -eq $(type .\kubectl.exe.sha256)
  3. Add the binary in to your PATH.

  4. Test to ensure the version of kubectl is the same as downloaded:

    kubectl version --client
Note: Docker Desktop for Windows adds its own version of kubectl to PATH. If you have installed Docker Desktop before, you may need to place your PATH entry before the one added by the Docker Desktop installer or remove the Docker Desktop's kubectl.

Install on Windows using Chocolatey or Scoop

  1. To install kubectl on Windows you can use either Chocolatey package manager or Scoop command-line installer.

    choco install kubernetes-cli

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

    kubectl version --client
  3. Navigate to your home directory:

    # If you're using cmd.exe, run: cd %USERPROFILE%
    cd ~
  4. Create the .kube directory:

    mkdir .kube
  5. Change to the .kube directory you just created:

    cd .kube
  6. Configure kubectl to use a remote Kubernetes cluster:

    New-Item config -type file
Note: Edit the config file with a text editor of your choice, such as Notepad.

Install on Windows as part of the Google Cloud SDK

You can install kubectl as part of the Google Cloud SDK.

  1. Install the Google Cloud SDK.

  2. Run the kubectl installation command:

    gcloud components install kubectl
  3. 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 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

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 Zsh, if you are running that on Windows.

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 'complete -F __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

What's next

Last modified April 13, 2021 at 7:56 PM PST: Remove PSGallery kubectl install instructions (0349ac003)