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rdctl Command Reference

rdctl is a command-line tool, included in Rancher Desktop that enables command-line access to GUI features. rdctl is developed to help users with tasks such as scripting (for automation, CI/CD), troubleshooting, remote management, etc. The current version of rdctl supports the below commands (with support for more commands to be added in upcoming releases):

⚠️ As the current version of rdctl is experimental, all subcommands names, their arguments, and their output are still subjected to change.

⚠️ Rancher Desktop app must be running on your machine to use rdctl commands.

Note: For many rdctl commands, there are corresponding API calls that can be applied. Listed below are the available commands shown in both formats. The api examples will assume curl as the tool being used to talk to the API.

rdctl or rdctl help

Run rdctl or rdctl help to see the list of available commands.

> rdctl help
The eventual goal of this CLI is to enable any UI-based operation to be done from the command-line as well.

rdctl [command]

Available Commands:
api Runs API endpoints directly
api /vX Enables you to see the endpoints for a particular version; e.g., v0
completion Generates the autocompletion script for the specified shell
help Help about any command
list-settings Lists the current settings
set Updates selected fields in the Rancher Desktop UI and restart the backend
shell Run an interactive shell or a command in a Rancher Desktop-managed VM
shutdown Shuts down the running Rancher Desktop application
start Start up Rancher Desktop or update its settings
version Shows the CLI version

--config-path string config file (default C:\Users\GunasekharMatamalam\AppData\Roaming\rancher-desktop\rd-engine.json)
-h, --help help for rdctl
--host string default is localhost; most useful for WSL
--password string overrides the password setting in the config file
--port string overrides the port setting in the config file
--user string overrides the user setting in the config file

Use "rdctl [command] --help" for more information about a command.

rdctl api

Run rdctl api to list all endpoints globally.

$ ../../../resources/darwin/bin/rdctl api / | jq -r .
"GET /",
"GET /v0",
"GET /v0/settings",
"PUT /v0/settings",
"PUT /v0/shutdown"

rdctl api /vX

Run rdctl api /v0 to list all endpoints in a specified version.

$ rdctl api /v0 | jq -r .
"GET /v0",
"GET /v0/settings",
"PUT /v0/settings",
"PUT /v0/shutdown"

rdctl api /v0/settings

rdctl api [endpoints] are commands that are most useful for users working directly with the API itself, and therefore they would not be for everyday use, such as rdctl set might be. For example,

a command such as

rdctl api /v0/settings --method PUT --body '{"kubernetes": {"enabled": false}}'

is the same as

rdctl set --kubernetes-enabled=false

but less concise and user-friendly.

rdctl list-settings

Run rdctl list-settings to see the current active configuration.

> rdctl list-settings
"version": 4,
"kubernetes": {
"version": "1.22.7",
"memoryInGB": 2,
"numberCPUs": 2,
"port": 6443,
"containerEngine": "moby",
"checkForExistingKimBuilder": false,
"enabled": true,
"WSLIntegrations": {},
"options": {
"traefik": true
"portForwarding": {
"includeKubernetesServices": false
"images": {
"showAll": true,
"namespace": ""
"telemetry": true,
"updater": true,
"debug": false

rdctl set

Run rdctl set [flags] to set properties. In most of the cases, Kubernetes would be reset on running the set command. You can set multiple properties by chaining in a single command. See some examples below.

> rdctl set --kubernetes-enabled=false
> rdctl set --container-engine docker --kubernetes-version 1.21.2

rdctl shutdown

Run rdctl shutdown to gracefully shut down Rancher Desktop.

> rdctl shutdown
Shutting down.

rdctl start

Run rdctl start to ensure that Rancher Desktop is running and configured as requested.

> rdctl start --container-runtime dockerd -- kubernetes-version 1.19.3

rdctl version

Run rdctl version to see the current rdctl CLI version.

> rdctl version
rdctl client version: 1.0.0, targeting server version: v0