Forget the terminal. Download our native app instead.

Download GitHub for Mac

Skip this guide. Download our native app instead.

Download GitHub for Windows

We strongly recommend using an SSH connection when interacting with GitHub. SSH keys are a way to identify trusted computers, without involving passwords. The steps below will walk you through generating an SSH key and then adding the public key to your GitHub account.

Tip:

We recommend that you regularly review your SSH keys list and revoke any that haven't been used in a while.

Step 1: Check for SSH keys

First, we need to check for existing SSH keys on your computer. Open up your Terminalyour Terminalyour Git Bashthe command line and type:

cd ~/.ssh
ls -al
# Lists the files in your .ssh directory

Check the directory listing to see if you have files named either id_rsa.pub or id_dsa.pub. If you don't have either of those files go to step 2. Otherwise, you can skip to step 3.

Step 2: Generate a new SSH key

To generate a new SSH key, copy and paste the text below, making sure to substitute in your email. The default settings are preferred, so when you're asked to "enter a file in which to save the key,"" just press enter to continue.

ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "your_email@example.com"
# Creates a new ssh key, using the provided email as a label
# Generating public/private rsa key pair.
# Enter file in which to save the key (/Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa): [Press enter]
ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "your_email@example.com"
# Creates a new ssh key, using the provided email as a label
# Generating public/private rsa key pair.
# Enter file in which to save the key (/c/Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa): [Press enter]
ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "your_email@example.com"
# Creates a new ssh key, using the provided email as a label
# Generating public/private rsa key pair.
# Enter file in which to save the key (/home/you/.ssh/id_rsa):
ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "your_email@example.com"
# Creates a new ssh key using the provided email
# Generating public/private rsa key pair.
# Enter file in which to save the key (/your_home_path/.ssh/id_rsa):

Next, you'll be asked to enter a passphrase.

Tip: We strongly recommend a very good, secure passphrase. For more information, see Working with SSH key passphrases.

# Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [Type a passphrase]
# Enter same passphrase again: [Type passphrase again]

Which should give you 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 your_email@example.com
# Your identification has been saved in /c/Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa.
# Your public key has been saved in /c/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 your_email@example.com
# Your identification has been saved in /home/you/.ssh/id_rsa.
# Your public key has been saved in /home/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 your_email@example.com
# Your identification has been saved in /your_home_path/.ssh/id_rsa.
# Your public key has been saved in /your_home_path/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.
# The key fingerprint is:
# 01:0f:f4:3b:ca:85:d6:17:a1:7d:f0:68:9d:f0:a2:db your_email@example.com

Then add your new key to the ssh-agent:

ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Step 3: Add your SSH key to GitHub

Run the following code to copy the key to your clipboard.

pbcopy < ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
# Copies the contents of the id_rsa.pub file to your clipboard

Alternatively, using your favorite text editor, you can open the ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub file and copy the contents of the file manually

Warning: it's important to copy the key exactly without adding newlines or whitespace.

Run the following code to copy the key to your clipboard.

clip < ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
# Copies the contents of the id_rsa.pub file to your clipboard

Alternatively, using your favorite text editor, you can open the ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub file and copy the contents of the file manually

Run the following code to copy the key to your clipboard.

sudo apt-get install xclip
# Downloads and installs xclip. If you don't have `apt-get`, you might need to use another installer (like `yum`)

xclip -sel clip < ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
# Copies the contents of the id_rsa.pub file to your clipboard

Alternatively, using your favorite text editor, you can open the ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub file and copy the contents of the file manually

Open the ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub file with a text editor. This is your SSH key. Select all and copy to your clipboard.


Now that you have the key copied, it's time to add it into GitHub:

  1. In the user bar in the top-right corner of any page, click Account Settings. Account settings button
  2. Click SSH Keys in the left sidebar. SSH Keys menu
  3. Click Add SSH key. SSH Key button
  4. 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".
  5. Paste your key into the "Key" field. The key field
  6. Click Add key. The Add key button
  7. Confirm the action by entering your GitHub password.

Step 4: Test everything out

To make sure everything is working, you'll now try SSHing to GitHub. When you do this, you will be asked to authenticate this action using your password, which for the passphrase you created earlier.

Open up your Terminalyour Terminalyour Git Bashthe command line and type:

ssh -T git@github.com
# Attempts to ssh to github

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 help article.

You may see this warning:

# The authenticity of host 'github.com (207.97.227.239)' 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)?

Don't worry! This is supposed to happen. Verify that the fingerprint in your terminal matches the one we've provided up above, and then type "yes."

# Hi username! You've successfully authenticated, but GitHub does not
# provide shell access.

If that username is yours, you've successfully set up your SSH key! Don't worry about the "shell access" thing, you don't want that anyway.

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.