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Signing your Git Commits using GPG on MacOS Sierra/High Sierra

Methods of Signing with GPG

Last updated March 28, 2021

There are now two ways to approach this:

  1. Using gpg and generating keys
  2. Using Kryptonite by

This Gist explains how to do this using gpg in a step-by-step fashion. Kryptonite is actually wickedly easy to use-but you will still need to follow the instructions

For using a GUI-based GIT tool such as Tower or Github Desktop, follow the steps here for signing with either GPG or

Using GPG

Step 1: Install software

We use the Homebrew package manager for this step.

brew install gpg2 gnupg pinentry-mac       

Step 2: Create the .gnupg Directory

If this directory does not exist, create it.

# Make the directory
mkdir ~/.gnupg

# The below configuration used to be added within that directory but is no longer required and breaks on M1-based Macs
# echo 'pinentry-program $(brew --prefix)/bin/pinentry-mac' > ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf

Step 3: Update or Create ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf

If this file does not exist, create it.

# This tells gpg to use the gpg-agent
echo 'use-agent' > ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf

Step 4: Modify your Shell

Append the following to your ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc

export GPG_TTY=$(tty)

Step 5: Restart your Terminal or source your ~/.*rc file

# on the built-in bash on macos use
source ~/.bash_profile
# if using bash through homebrew over ssh use
source ~/.bashrc
# and if using zsh
source ~/.zshrc

Step 6: Update the Permissions on your ~/.gnupg Directory

You will need to modify the permissions to 700 to secure this directory.

chmod 700 ~/.gnupg

Step 7: Create your GPG Key

Run the following command to generate your key, note we have to use the --expert flag so as to generate a 4096-bit key.

gpg --full-gen-key

Step 8: Answer the Questions

Once you have entered your options, pinentry will prompt you for a password for the new PGP key.

Please select what kind of key you want:
   (1) RSA and RSA (default)
   (2) DSA and Elgamal
   (3) DSA (sign only)
   (4) RSA (sign only)
Your selection? 4
RSA keys may be between 1024 and 4096 bits long.
What keysize do you want? (2048) 4096
Requested keysize is 4096 bits
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
         0 = key does not expire
      <n>  = key expires in n days
      <n>w = key expires in n weeks
      <n>m = key expires in n months
      <n>y = key expires in n years
Key is valid for? (0) 3y
Key does not expire at all
Is this correct? (y/N) y

You need a user ID to identify your key; the software constructs the user ID
from the Real Name, Comment and Email Address in this form:
    "Heinrich Heine (Der Dichter) <>"

Real name: Dr Duh
Email address:
You selected this USER-ID:
    "Dr Duh <>"

Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit? o
You need a Passphrase to protect your secret key.

Step 9: Get your key info for Git, etc.

# List your keys
gpg -k

Step 10: Get your key id

Use the next command to generate a short form of the key fingerprint.

Copy the text after the rsa4096/ and before the date generated and use the copied id in step 13:

gpg -K --keyid-format SHORT
sec rsa4096/######## YYYY-MM-DD [SC] [expires: YYYY-MM-DD]

*You need to copy the output from your terminal similar to the example above where the ######## is following the slash. *

Step 11: Export the fingerprint

In the output from step 10, the line below the row that says 'pub' shows a fingerprint-this is what you use in the placeholder. The output from below is what you copy to Github:

# The export command below gives you the key you add to GitHub
gpg --armor --export <your key id>

Step 12: Configure Git to use gpg

git config --global gpg.program $(which gpg)

Step 13: Configure Git to use your signing key

The below command needs the fingerprint from step 10 above:

git config --global user.signingkey 1111111

Step 14: Configure Git to sign all commits (Optional-you can configure this per repository too)

This tells Git to sign all commits using the key you specified in step 13.

git config --global commit.gpgsign true

Step 15: Perform a Commit

git commit -S -s -m "My Signed Commit"

Step 16: Pinentry Prompt

You will now be prompted by Pinentry for the password for your signing key. You can enter it into the Dialog box-with the option of saving the password to the macOS X Keychain.

Step 17: Submit your PGP key to Github to verify your Commits

Login into and go to your settings, SSH and GPG Keys, and add your GPG key from the page.

Step 18: Submitting Your Key to a Public Keyserver (very optional)

Before you jump on submitting your key to a service such as the MIT PGP Key Server, you should consider the following:

  • You cannot delete your key once submitted
  • Spammers have been known to harvest email addresses from these servers
  • If you're only signing your Git commits to Github this isn't necessary


If you have any errors when generating a key regarding gpg-agent, try the following command to see what error it generates:

gpg-agent --daemon

Git Signing with a GUI Application (e.g. Git Tower or GitHub Desktop)

Manually Installed GPG

Step 1: Modify ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf

# Below option is deprecated
# pinentry-program $(brew --prefix)/bin/pinentry-mac

Step 2: Modify ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf


Step 3: Restart GPG Agent

gpgconf --reload gpg-agent

Step 4: Copy to ~/bin/

Copy the .sh file in this gist to ~/bin/.

Step 5: Copy org.gnupg.gpg-agent.plist file to ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

Copy the the plist file in this Gist to ~/Library/LaunchAgents/.


Step 1: Copy to ~/bin/

Copy the .sh file in this gist to ~/bin/.

Step 2: Copy org.gnupg.gpg-agent.plist file to ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

Copy the the plist file in this Gist to ~/Library/LaunchAgents/.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<!-- This needs to be placed at ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.gnupg.gpg-agent.plist -->
<plist version="1.0">
<!-- Be sure to set this path correctly! -->
# Ensure that gpg can find the agent when needed
if [ -f ~/.gnupg/.gpg-agent-info ] && [ -n "$(pgrep gpg-agent)" ]; then
source ~/.gnupg/.gpg-agent-info
eval $(gpg-agent --daemon --write-env-file ~/.gnupg/.gpg-agent-info)
# This line is important for GUI tools to also find it
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