If you have a large playbook, it may become useful to be able to run only a specific part of it rather than running everything in the playbook. Ansible supports a “tags:” attribute for this reason.

When you execute a playbook, you can filter tasks based on tags in two ways:

  • On the command line, with the --tags or --skip-tags options
  • In Ansible configuration settings, with the TAGS_RUN and TAGS_SKIP options

Tags can be applied to many structures in Ansible (see “tag inheritance”, below), but its simplest use is with indivdual tasks. Here is an example that tags two tasks with different tags:

    - yum:
        name: "{{ item }}"
        state: installed
         - httpd
         - memcached
         - packages

    - template:
        src: templates/src.j2
        dest: /etc/foo.conf
         - configuration

If you wanted to just run the “configuration” and “packages” part of a very long playbook, you can use the --tags option on the command line:

ansible-playbook example.yml --tags "configuration,packages"

On the other hand, if you want to run a playbook without certain tagged tasks, you can use the --skip-tags command-line option:

ansible-playbook example.yml --skip-tags "packages"

Tag Reuse

You can apply the same tag to more than one task. When a play is run using the --tags command-line option, all tasks with that tag name will be run.

This example tags several tasks with one tag, “ntp”:

# file: roles/common/tasks/main.yml

- name: be sure ntp is installed
    name: ntp
    state: installed
  tags: ntp

- name: be sure ntp is configured
    src: ntp.conf.j2
    dest: /etc/ntp.conf
    - restart ntpd
  tags: ntp

- name: be sure ntpd is running and enabled
    name: ntpd
    state: started
    enabled: yes
  tags: ntp

Tag Inheritance

Adding tags: to a play, or to statically imported tasks and roles, adds those tags to all of the contained tasks. This is referred to as tag inheritance. Tag inheritance is not applicable to dynamic inclusions such as include_role and include_tasks.

When you apply tags: attributes to structures other than tasks, Ansible processes the tag attribute to apply ONLY to the tasks they contain. Applying tags anywhere other than tasks is just a convenience so you don’t have to tag tasks indivdually.

This example tags all tasks in the two plays. The first play has all its tasks tagged with ‘bar’, and the second has all its tasks tagged with ‘foo’:

- hosts: all
    - bar

- hosts: all
  tags: ['foo']

You may also apply tags to the tasks imported by roles:

  - role: webserver
      port: 5000
    tags: [ 'web', 'foo' ]

And to import_role: and import_tasks: statements:

- import_role:
    name: myrole
  tags: [web,foo]

- import_tasks: foo.yml
  tags: [web,foo]

All of these apply the specified tags to EACH task inside the play, imported file, or role, so that these tasks can be selectively run when the playbook is invoked with the corresponding tags.

Tags are applied down the dependency chain. In order for a tag to be inherited to a dependent role’s tasks, the tag should be applied to the role declaration or static import, not to all the tasks within the role.

There is no way to ‘import only these tags’; you probably want to split into smaller roles/includes if you find yourself looking for such a feature.

The above information does not apply to include_tasks or other dynamic includes, as the attributes applied to an include, only affect the include itself.

You can see which tags are applied to tasks, roles, and static imports by running ansible-playbook with the --list-tasks option. You can display all tags applied to the tasks with the --list-tags option.


The above information does not apply to include_tasks, include_roles, or other dynamic includes. Tags applied to either of these only tag the include itself.

To use tags with tasks and roles intended for dynamic inclusions, all needed tasks should be explicitly tagged at the task level; or block: may be used to tag more than one task at once. The include itself should also be tagged.

Here is an example of tagging role tasks with the tag mytag, using a block statement, to then be used with a dynamic include:

Playbook file:

- hosts: all
  - include_role:
      name: myrole
    tags: mytag

Role tasks file:

- block:
    - name: First task to run
    - name: Second task to run
    - mytag

Special Tags

There is a special always tag that will always run a task, unless specifically skipped (--skip-tags always)



    - debug:
        msg: "Always runs"
        - always

    - debug:
        msg: "runs when you use tag1"
        - tag1

New in version 2.5.

Another special tag is never, which will prevent a task from running unless a tag is specifically requested.


  - debug: msg='{{ showmevar}}'
    tags: [ 'never', 'debug' ]

In this example, the task will only run when the debug or never tag is explicitly requested.

There are another 3 special keywords for tags: tagged, untagged and all, which run only tagged, only untagged and all tasks respectively.

By default, Ansible runs as if --tags all had been specified.

See also

Working With Playbooks
An introduction to playbooks
Playbook organization by roles
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