Automate Tableau Licensing Tasks

Product(s): Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server
Version(s): 9.0, 8.3, 8.2, 9.3, 9.1, 9.2
Last Modified Date: 24 Sep 2016

Article Note: This article is no longer actively maintained by Tableau. We continue to make it available because the information is still valuable, but some steps may vary due to product changes.

There are several licensing parameters you can use to perform common licensing activities in both Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server. The purpose of these parameters is to provide you with command line options to activate and manage your license keys or the ability to incorporate licensing tasks into your automated scripts.

Command Line Tool Options and Better Script Automation

Using scripting languages or manual operations via the Command Prompt, you can activate online, refresh, and deactivate your license keys. For Tableau Desktop, the application itself provides the command line interface. For Tableau Server, the executable is named tabinstallck.exe and can be used prior to configuring Tableau Server.

When performing quiet installations of Tableau Desktop or Tableau Server, use the online activation parameter to avoid having Tableau prompt the user to manually enter the license key for each installation. In addition, you can use the “return” parameter to retrieve a license and deactivate it without having to manually remove it from an individual machine.

Note: To successfully use the licensing parameters, you must run scripts or perform manual operations as an administrator.

Online activationDesktop (Windows)start /wait tableau.exe -activate <license-key>
Desktop (Mac)./Applications/ -activate <license key>
Serverstart/wait tabinstallck.exe-activate <license-key>
Refreshing license keyDesktop (Windows)start /wait tableau.exe -refresh <license-key>
Desktop (Mac)./Applications/ -refresh <license key>
Serverstart /wait tabinstallck.exe -refresh <license-key>
Deactivating license keyDesktop (Windows)start /wait tableau.exe -return <license-key>
Desktop (Mac)./Applications/ -return <license key>
Serverstart /wait tabinstallck.exe -return <license-key>


For example, a script that could be used to activate Tableau Desktop on a Windows computer would look like the following:

@echo off
start/wait tableau.exe -activate <license-key>

Previous Methods

In earlier releases, Tableau provided various tools for performing command line licensing operations. Tools such as custactutil (Desktop), and severactutil (Server) were developed independently of each other and could not provide a consistent set of options. The varied nature of error reporting made it difficult to build automation scripts around these tools.

Tableau Server also supports licensing operations via tabadmin, but this component requires that Tableau Server is successfully deployed and configured. Since Tableau Server must be licensed before it can be configured, tabadmin cannot provide a means of scripting the licensing step in a new Tableau Server installation.

Error Handling

After performing a licensing task , you can retrieve the Tableau application exit code by using the ERRORLEVEL command to verify that the task was completed successfully. For a list of Tableau application exit codes and messages, see the Automated Licensing Task Errors article. The command line operations will log any licensing errors to the standard log locations for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server, but they will not report any information on the command line standard error/output stream.


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