SSH keys are a way to identify trusted computers, without involving passwords. The steps below will walk you through generating an SSH key and adding the public key to your GitHub account.
We recommend that you regularly review
your SSH keys list and revoke any that haven't been used in a while.
1: Check for SSH keys
First, we need to check for existing SSH keys on your computer. Open Terminal and
ls -al ~/.ssh
Check the directory listing to see if you already have a public SSH key. By default, the filenames of the public keys are one of the following:
If you see an existing public and private key pair listed (for example id_rsa.pub and id_rsa)
that you would like to use to connect to GitHub, you can skip Step 2 and
go straight to Step 3.
Tip: If you receive an error that ~/.ssh doesn't
exist, don't worry! We'll create it in Step 2.
2: Generate a new SSH key
With Terminal still
open, copy and paste the text below. Make sure you substitute in your GitHub email address.
ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C "firstname.lastname@example.org"
# Generating public/private rsa key pair.
We strongly suggest keeping the default settings as they are, so when you're prompted to "Enter a file in which to save the key", just press Enter to
# Enter file in which to save the key (/Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa): [Press enter]
You'll be asked to enter a passphrase.
# Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [Type a passphrase]
# Enter same passphrase again: [Type passphrase again]
After you enter a passphrase, you'll be given the fingerprint, or id,
of your SSH key. It will look something like this:
# Your identification has been saved in /Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa.
# Your public key has been saved in /Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.
# The key fingerprint is:
# 01:0f:f4:3b:ca:85:d6:17:a1:7d:f0:68:9d:f0:a2:db email@example.com
3: Add your key to the ssh-agent
To configure the ssh-agent program
to use your SSH key:
Ensure ssh-agent is enabled:
eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"
# Agent pid 59566
Add your SSH key to the ssh-agent:
Tip: If you didn't generate a new SSH key in Step
2, and used an existing SSH key instead, you will need to replace id_rsain
the above command with the name of your existing private key file.
4: Add your SSH key to your account
To configure your GitHub account to use your SSH key:
Copy the SSH key to your clipboard. Keep in mind that your key may also be named
id_ed25519.pub, in which case you change the filename below:
sudo apt-get install xclip
xclip -sel clip < ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
Warning: It's important to copy the key exactly without adding newlines
Add the copied key to GitHub:
the top right corner of any page, click your profile photo, then click Settings.
the user settings sidebar, click SSH keys.
In the Title field, add a descriptive label for the new key. For example, if you're using a personal Mac, you might call this key "Personal MacBook Air".
your key into the "Key" field.
Confirm the action by entering your GitHub password.
5: Test the connection
To make sure everything is working, you'll now try to SSH into GitHub. When you do this, you will be asked to authenticate this action using your password, which is the SSH key passphrase you created earlier.
Open Terminal and
ssh -T firstname.lastname@example.org
You may see this warning:
# The authenticity of host 'github.com (220.127.116.11)' can't be established.
# RSA key fingerprint is 16:27:ac:a5:76:28:2d:36:63:1b:56:4d:eb:df:a6:48.
# Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?
Verify the fingerprint in the message you see matches the following message, then type
# Hi username! You've successfully authenticated, but GitHub does not
# provide shell access.
It's possible that you'll see this error message:
Agent admitted failure to sign using the key.
debug1: No more authentication methods to try.
Permission denied (publickey).
This is a known problem with certain Linux distributions. For a possible resolution, see our
If the username in the message is yours, you've successfully set up your SSH key!
If you receive a message about "access denied," you can read
these instructions for diagnosing the issue.
If you're switching from HTTPS to SSH, you'll now need to update your remote repository URLs. For more information, see Changing
a remote's URL.