Auto Purge Azure Container Registry Images

When adding images into the Azure Container Registry you might start getting a backlog of images that need to be cleaned down. Azure CLI has some features, but you might want more…

With the Azure CLI you can use the ‘ACR’ commands, which contain the option of ‘purge’. This can be combined with a tag filter to narrow what images to remove, plus an ‘ago’ property to filter how old the images need to be.

This can then be run to clear down the images in the Registry as per the example below and you can get more information from the GitHub Repository.

acr purge --ago 5d --filter 'myRegistry:.*' --untagged 

This can then be merged with the ACR command to set an ACR Task. This can be a schedule task run on the ACR to trigger the Command, routinely cleaning down the repository. You can see from the example below and read more detail from the Microsoft Documentation.

$PURGE_CMD="acr purge --ago 5d --filter 'myRegistry:.*' --untagged "
az acr task create --name myRegistry-WeeklyPurgeTask --cmd "$PURGE_CMD" --schedule "0 1 * * Sun" --registry $azureContainerRegistryName --context /dev/null

The Purge method is really good, but unless you have good tag management, of making sure your running images are tagged differently to the older images, then it doesn’t work. This will in my case keep clearing out all images even ones that are in use.

Therefore, I created a PowerShell script to clean the images by the number of them in the registry. With this we can always be certain there are at leave X amount of images in the registries.

To make this more flexibly and reusable, it works on the Azure Container Registry level instead of the Registry level. First we set the ACR name and the maximum images we want left in the registry. With this we can use the Azure CLI to get an output of all the Registries.

$AcrName = "myAcr"
$maxImages = 5
$repositories = (az acr repository list -n $AcrName --output tsv)
foreach ($repository in $repositories) {


With this we can loop each registry to check their image count and remove the images. To do this we use the CLI to get all the image tags in the repository in date/time order descending, so our newer images come first. This means when we loop through them we can keep a counter until we reach the maximum images variable set earlier. Once we reach the set number and only then do we start deleting images.

To delete we can call the CLI action ‘az acr repository delete’, which requires the full name of the image, including the repository name.

Below is the full PowerShell example:

$AcrName = "myAcr"
$maxImages = 5
$repositories = (az acr repository list -n $AcrName --output tsv)
foreach ($repository in $repositories) {
    Write-Host("repo: $repository")
    $images = az acr repository show-tags -n $AcrName --repository $repository --orderby time_desc  --output tsv
    Write-Host("image: $images")
    $imageCount = 0
    foreach ($image in $images) {
        if ($imageCount -gt $maxImages) {
            $imageFullName = "$repository`:$image"
            Write-Host("image: $imageFullName")
            az acr repository delete -n $AcrName --image $imageFullName

You could then contain this code into a variable like the first example, to then put it into a Scheduled ACR Task, or just create an automated schedule with other technology like Azure DevOps Pipelines where you can add this into source control.

Push Docker Image to ACR without Service Connection in Azure DevOps

If you are like me and using infrastructure as code to deploy your Azure Infrastructure then using the Azure DevOps Docker task doesn’t work. To use this task you need to know what your Azure Container Registry(ACR) is and have it configured to be able to push your docker images to the registry, but you don’t know that yet. Here I show how you can still use Azure DevOps to push your images to a dynamic ACR.

In my case I am using Terraform to create the Container Registry and with that I pass what I want it to be called. For example ‘prc-acr’ which will generate an ACR with the full login server name ‘’. This can then be used later for sending the images to the correct registry.

When using the official Microsoft Docker Task the documentation asks that your have a Service Connection to your ACR. To do this though you need the registry login server name, username and password to connect, which unless you keep the registry static you will not know. Therefore, you can’t create the connection to then push your images up. I did read some potential methods to dynamically create this connection, but then we need to manage these so they do not get out of control.

To push the image we need only two things, a connection to Azure and where to push the image. The first we can get set up as we know the tenant and subscription we will be deploying to. The connection can be made up by following this guide to connection Azure to Azure DevOps. The other part of where to send the image, we mentioned earlier when we created the ACT in Terraform calling it ‘prc-acr’.

With these details we can use the Azure CLI to push the image to the ACR. First your need to login to the ACR using:

az acr login --name 'prc-acr'

This will connect you into the ACR that was created in Azure. From there you will need to tag your image with the acr login server name with registry name and tag. For example:

docker tag prcImage:latest

This will then tell docker where to push the image to while you are logged in to the Azure Container Registry, which means from there we simply just need to push the image with that tag in the standard docker method:

docker push

Now this is very each and simple as we do not need a connection to the Container Registry, but just a connection to the Azure environment. These details can then be used with the Azure CLI Task as below, where I am passing in the following parameters.

Parameter NameExample ValueDescription
azureServiceConnectionAzureServiceConnectionService Connection name to Azure
azureContainerRegistryNamePrc-acrAzure Container Registry Name
dockerImageprcImageDocker Image Name
tagNameLatestDocker Tag Name
registryNamePrc-registryACR Registry Name
  - task: AzureCLI@2
    displayName: 'Push Docker Image to ACR'
      azureSubscription: ${{parameters.azureServiceConnection}}
      scriptType: 'ps'
      scriptLocation: 'inlineScript'
      inlineScript: |
        az acr login --name ${{parameters.azureContainerRegistryName}}
        docker tag ${{parameters.dockerImage}}:${{parameters.tagName}} ${{parameters.azureContainerRegistryName}}${{parameters.registryName}}:${{parameters.tagName}}
        docker push ${{parameters.azureContainerRegistryName}}${{parameters.registryName}}:${{parameters.tagName}}