How to Run Terraform Locally: Top Commands

Here are five top commands helpful to run terraform locally. These are Declare, Init, Plan, apply, and destroy.

Terraform commands


Declare allows declaring resources. You can run this in any directory – where no other details are present. It is the first step.


$ terraform init 
  • Terraform isn’t aware of your workspace, let alone that it’s supposed to create or manage anything, because it hasn’t been initialized.
  • Terraform configuration must always be initialized at least once, but you may have to initialize it again if you add new providers or modules.
  • Don’t fret about when to run terraform init, because Terraform will always remind you. Moreover, terraform init is an idempotent command, which means you can call it as many times as you want in a row with no side effects.
  • After initialization, Terraform creates a hidden .terraform directory for installing plugins and modules. 


$ terraform plan
  • Terraform intends to do this by running terraform plan. You should always run terraform plan before deploying.
  • terraform plan informs you about what Terraform intends to do and acts as a linter, letting you know about any syntax or dependency errors.
  • It’s a read-only action that does not alter the state of deployed infrastructure, and like terraform init, it’s idempotent.


$ terraform apply

The apply command compares the output against the generated execution plan.


$ terraform destroy  -auto-approve

During destroy, first it generates an execution plan as if there were no resources in the configuration files by performing a Read() on each resource and marking all existing resources for deletion.

The optional flag -auto-approve, which automatically approves the result of the execution plan.


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Author: Srini

Experienced software developer. Skills in Development, Coding, Testing and Debugging. Good Data analytic skills (Data Warehousing and BI). Also skills in Mainframe.