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Debugging OAuth authorization tokens from your terminal

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Here’s a quick post about something that I don’t do often but is typically a pain when I do: debugging OAuth tokens super quickly.

An Example Scenario

You’ve just provisioned a shiny new Keycloak instance and want to make it the upstream identity provider (IdP) to your company’s Okta tenant because you were volun-told to do so.

You’re also using an app that is configured to do single sign-on through Keycloak and will only log in users if they have admin in their access token’s groups claim.

You’ve created the Okta Identity Provider in Keycloak, set up everything correctly in Okta, and are able to log into Keycloak through Okta just fine. However, you’re not able to log into the app despite being in the admin group in Okta.

What gives?

Helpful tools

We’re not going to solve this problem in this post, especially since the internet solved it already.

What we will do is talk about some CLI tools that can help simplify getting to the bottom of this. is a mostly-compliant OAuth2 client written entirely in Bash. It’s entire purpose is to print tokens received after successfully completing token exchange.


browsh is a modern text-based web browser. It uses Firefox Marionette (like Chromedriver) to render webpages (and JavaScript!) entirely in your terminal.

Here’s a TL;DR of how to use it for a two-legged authorization code OAuth login:

✅ Make sure that your OAuth client has as a valid redirect URL before doing this.

  1. First, clone the script somewhere:
git clone /tmp
  1. Run the command below to get an auth code. This will use netcat to spin up a local webserver that will capture redirects.

    /tmp/oidc-bash-client/ \
     --operation authorization_code_grant \
     --client-id $CLIENT_ID \
     --openid-endpoint https://$KEYCLOAK_INSTANCE/.well-known/openid-configuration \
     --redirect-uri \
     --scope "$SCOPES"

    This will print something like the below:


    Here, we could copy this URL and paste it in a web browser. But that’s lame. You’re probably reading this inside of w3m entirely in your terminal. Can’t be bothered.

    Instead, open another terminal tab and open it in browsh:

    browsh --startup-url '$URL_YOU_COPIED'

    This will give you a really cool retro 8-bit version of what you’d normally see in your browser.

    Just like you remembered it from your childhood.

    After you log in, you’ll get an auth code back, like this:


    oidc-bash-client will also exit.

    Copy the code, then go to the next step.

  2. Run the command below to exchange the code you received for access, ID and refresh tokens:

    /tmp/oidc-bash-client/ \
     --operation auth_code \
     --client-id "$CLIENT_ID" \
     --client-secret "$CLIENT_SECRET" \
     --openid-endpoint https://$KEYCLOAK_INSTANCE/realms/$KEYCLOAK_REALM/.well-known/openid-configuration \
     --redirect-uri \
     --authorization-code 'f905d57d-e6aa-4109-9ffc-789752e146df.e4dc98f7-bed4-49da-b81a-672c2011d30c.1e75bca2-981c-4ddb-a12a-edb6e7896431'

    This will give you a JSON payload with all three in it!

      "access_token": "$ACCESS_TOKEN",
      "expires_in": 300,
      "refresh_expires_in": 1800,
      "refresh_token": "$REFRESH_TOKEN",
      "token_type": "Bearer",
      "not-before-policy": 1698706734,
      "session_state": "e4dc98f7-bed4-49da-b81a-672c2011d30c",
      "scope": "profile tenant_id groups full_name email"

At this point, you would take the Base64-encoded access_token JWT to and decode it to get the contents of the token.

We’re better than that.

We’ll use jq to decode the token right here, right now.

(Big thanks to Vithal Reddy for this one.)

  1. Copy the JSON blob (you won’t be able to get it again without starting from step [2]) and save it as a variable:

    json=$(pbpaste) # if you're on a Mac!
  2. Use jq to split up the JWT by period and Base64-decode each fragent:

    echo "$json" |
     jq -r '.access_token | split(".") | .[1] | @base64 -d | fromjson'

And wa la! Your decrypted JWT appears!

  "exp": 1698769211,
  "iat": 1698768911,
  "auth_time": 1698768896,
  "jti": "96aad20d-62af-4a8c-89c3-569d92619ad6", of the token