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Cisco CLI Error: % Invalid input detected at '^' marker

In what CLI Mode does this error appear?

This message is not restricted to a particular CLI Mode or to a particular CLI command or task.

What does this error mean?

This error indicates that we have made an error while typing in a CLI command. This error message is preceded by a line with the single character '^'. There may be multiple errors in a line that we have typed in at the CLI. The '^' indicates the first instance of an error in the line typed in.

For example, suppose we were attempting to configure an IP address on a router interface. We attempt to configure it as follows:

Router Console
Router#config t
Router(config)#int gi0/1
Router(config-if)#ip adress 10.100.100.1. 255.255.255.0
Router(config-if)#ip ad^
% Invalid input detected at '^' marker.
Router(config-if)#

Looking at the command that we have typed in, we can see that we have misspelled the word "address". The '^' under the letter 'r' in the word "address" informs us that there is an error at the letter 'r'.

We can correct the error and type in the command again.

Router Console
Router#config t
Router(config)#int gi0/1
Router(config-if)#ip adress 10.100.100.1. 255.255.255.0
Router(config-if)#ip ad^
% Invalid input detected at '^' marker.
Router(config-if)#ip address 10.100.100.1. 255.255.255.0
Router(config-if)#ip address 10.100.100.1^
% Invalid input detected at '^' marker.
Router(config-if)#

We have corrected the error in the word "address" but we notice that there is another error message. This time we notice that the ip address that we are trying to configure has an extra '.' at the end. The '^' indicates that there is an error at this location in the line that we have typed in.

We will re-enter the command without the extra '.'

Router Console
Router#config t
Router(config)#int gi0/1
Router(config-if)#ip adress 10.100.100.1. 255.255.255.0
Router(config-if)#ip ad^
% Invalid input detected at '^' marker.
Router(config-if)#ip address 10.100.100.1. 255.255.255.0
Router(config-if)#ip address 10.100.100.1^
% Invalid input detected at '^' marker.
Router(config-if)#ip address 10.100.100.1 255.255.255.0
Router(config-if)#

This time the command is accepted with no warnings or error messages.

Point to note: There may be multiple errors in a line, but the '^' character appears underneath the first error that is found. All of the errors are not highlighted at the same time.

A common occurence of this error with the "show" command

Take a look at the following example:

Router Console
Router(config)#sh run
Router(config)#s^
% Invalid input detected at '^' marker.
Router(config)#

We are attempting to run the "show running-config" command. Why do we see an error message instead of the desired output?

Upon further inspection, we realize that we are currently in Global Configuration Mode (as indicated by the word 'config' in the CLI prompt). Most of the "show" commands are available in Privileged EXEC Mode (although a large number of them are also available in User EXEC Mode).

In this instance, if we want to see the running configration, we would need to either precede the command with the word "do", or exit back into Privileged EXEC Mode and run the "show run" command.

Router Console
Router(config)#sh run
Router(config)#s^
% Invalid input detected at '^' marker.
Router(config)#do sh run
Building configuration...
Current confguration: 2440 bytes
!
version 15.5
no service timestamps log datetime msec
no service timestamps debug datetime msec
.
<output truncated>
.
Router(config)#

If we run into an "Invalid input detected at '^' marker" error while attempting to run a "show" command we should always check to confirm that we are not in a Configuration Mode.

Remember: The "show running-config" and "show startup-config" commands are only available in Privileged EXEC Mode - they are not available in User EXEC Mode!