Get an existing service principal

List service principals

If you already have an existing service principal that you wish to use, this step explains how to retrieve your existing service principal.

A list of the service principals in a tenant can be retrieved with az ad sp list. By default this command returns the first 100 service principals for your tenant. To get all of a tenant's service principals, use the --all parameter. Getting this list can take a long time, so it's recommended that you filter the list with one of the following parameters:

  • --display-name requests service principals that have a prefix that match the provided name. The display name of a service principal is the value set with the --name parameter during creation. If you didn't set --name during service principal creation, the name prefix is azure-cli-.
  • --spn filters on exact service principal name matching. The service principal name always starts with https://. if the value you used for --name wasn't a URI, this value is https:// followed by the display name.
  • --show-mine requests only service principals created by the signed-in user.
  • --filter takes an OData filter, and performs server-side filtering. This method is recommended over filtering client-side with the CLI's --query parameter. To learn about OData filters, see OData expression syntax for filters.

The information returned for service principal objects is verbose. To get only the information necessary for sign-in, use the query string [].{id:appId, tenant:appOwnerOrganizationId}. Here's an example that gets the sign-in information for all service principals created by the currently logged in user:

az ad sp list --show-mine --query "[].{SPname:displayName, SPid:appId, tenant:appOwnerOrganizationId}" --output table

If you're working in a large organization with many service principals, try these command examples:

# get service principals containing a keyword
az ad sp list --display-name mySearchWord --output table

# get service principals using an OData filter
az ad sp list --filter "displayname eq 'myExactServicePrincipalName'" --output json

# get a service principal having a certain servicePrincipalNames property value
az ad sp list --spn


The user and tenant can both be retrieved with az ad sp list and az ad sp show, but authentication secrets or the authentication method is not available. Secrets for certificates in Azure Key Vault can be retrieved with az keyvault secret show, but no other secrets are stored by default. If you forget an authentication method or secret, reset the service principal credentials.

Service principal properties

When you get a list of service principals using az ad sp list, there are many output properties you can reference in your script.

    "accountEnabled": true,
    "addIns": [],
    "alternativeNames": [],
    "appDescription": null,
    "appDisplayName": "myServicePrincipalName",
    "appId": "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000",
    "appOwnerOrganizationId": "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000",
    "appRoleAssignmentRequired": false,
    "appRoles": [],
    "applicationTemplateId": null,
    "createdDateTime": null,
    "deletedDateTime": null,
    "description": null,
    "disabledByMicrosoftStatus": null,
    "displayName": "myServicePrincipalName",
    "homepage": "",
    "id": "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000",
    "info": {
      "logoUrl": null,
      "marketingUrl": null,
      "privacyStatementUrl": null,
      "supportUrl": null,
      "termsOfServiceUrl": null
    "keyCredentials": [],
    "loginUrl": null,
    "logoutUrl": null,
    "notes": null,
    "notificationEmailAddresses": [],
    "oauth2PermissionScopes": [
        "adminConsentDescription": "my admin description",
        "adminConsentDisplayName": "my admin display name",
        "id": "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000",
        "isEnabled": true,
        "type": "User",
        "userConsentDescription": "my user description",
        "userConsentDisplayName": "my user display name",
        "value": "user_impersonation"
    "passwordCredentials": [],
    "preferredSingleSignOnMode": null,
    "preferredTokenSigningKeyThumbprint": null,
    "replyUrls": [],
    "resourceSpecificApplicationPermissions": [],
    "samlSingleSignOnSettings": null,
    "servicePrincipalNames": [
    "servicePrincipalType": "Application",
    "signInAudience": null,
    "tags": [
    "tokenEncryptionKeyId": null,
    "verifiedPublisher": {
      "addedDateTime": null,
      "displayName": null,
      "verifiedPublisherId": null

Use the --query parameter to retrieve and store service principal properties in variables.

# Bash script
spID=$(az ad sp list --display-name myServicePrincipalName --query "[].{spID:appId}" --output tsv)
tenantID=$(az ad sp list --display-name myServicePrincipalName --query "[].{tenant:appOwnerOrganizationId}" --output tsv)
userConsentDescr=$(az ad sp list --display-name myServicePrincipalName --query "[].{ucs:oauth2PermissionScopes.userConsentDescription[0]}" --output tsv)
echo "Using appId $spID in tenant $tenantID for $userConsentDescr"

Next Steps

Now that you've learned how to retrieve your existing service principal, proceed to the next step to learn how to manage your service principal roles.