Registering your application or script gets you a higher daily quota and is fairly simply; a step by step guide is documented here: I only need a key, what do I do?

However, what if I do want an access token, either to get around the new paging restrictions for anonymous users, to read personal information (e.g. my inbox) or to get write access? Do I have to set up a website so I can use the OAuth flow as described in the documentation?

1 Answer 1


It's possible to authenticate yourself via the command line; there's no need to set up a website or so.

  • Open the application page via https://stackapps.com/apps/oauth and make sure the option 'Enable Client Side OAuth Flow' is disabled.
    • You can use any domain (e.g. stackapps.com) as OAuth domain; you don't need to control it.
  • Open the following URL in your browser (add the actual client id from the application page, and the scope with what you actually need - for details, see the documentation): https://stackoverflow.com/oauth?client_id=...&scope=read_inbox,no_expiry,write_access,private_info&redirect_uri=https://stackapps.com
  • After authenticating, you'll get redirected to https://stackapps.com/?code=...; the code ends in )).
  • Execute the following command in a terminal (add the client id and client secret from the application page and the code from the previous step): curl -d "client_id=...&client_secret=...&code=...&redirect_uri=https://stackapps.com" -X POST https://stackoverflow.com/oauth/access_token
  • The result is a simple access_token=... and the token also ends in )).

You can now use that token in combination with your app key, e.g. to read your global inbox with a GET call to https://api.stackexchange.com/2.3/inbox?key=...&access_token=....

Another option is provided here by @rene, but this one is (IMVHO, of course) simpler if you know how to handle the command line and/or you're not particularly fond of JavaScript.

  • I was wondering if the ... ends with )) is a feature or a coincidence with the chosen encoding. IOW, do we risk ever seeing a token that doesn't end in )) when we exhausted all the space the token allows for? (probably in 6 to 8 weeks)
    – rene
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 17:41
  • I have no idea. I thought it was some Base64 dialect I didn't know of, but some investigation did not get me any wiser ...
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 17:45
  • Maybe ASCII85 ....
    – rene
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 17:48

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