Step 1: Install software
We use the Homebrew package manager for this step.
brew install gpg2 gnupg pinentry-mac
Step 2: Create the
If this directory does not exist, create it.
Step 3: Update or Create ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf
# Make the directory
# 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
If this file does not exist, create it.
Step 4: Modify your Shell
# This tells gpg to use the gpg-agent
echo 'use-agent' > ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf
Append the following to your ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc
Step 5: Restart your Terminal or source your ~/.*rc file
Step 6: Update the Permissions on your ~/.gnupg Directory
# on the built-in bash on macos use
# if using bash through homebrew over ssh use
# and if using zsh
You will need to modify the permissions to 700 to secure this directory.
Step 7: Create your GPG Key
chmod 700 ~/.gnupg
Run the following command to generate your key, note we have to use the
--expert flag so as to generate a 4096-bit key.
Step 8: Answer the Questions
Once you have entered your options, pinentry will prompt you for a password for the new PGP key.
Step 9: Get your key info for Git, etc.
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) <firstname.lastname@example.org>"
Real name: Dr Duh
Email address: email@example.com
You selected this USER-ID:
"Dr Duh <firstname.lastname@example.org>"
Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit? o
You need a Passphrase to protect your secret key.
Step 10: Get your key id
# List your keys
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:
Step 12: Configure Git to use gpg
# The export command below gives you the key you add to GitHub
gpg --armor --export <your key id>
Step 13: Configure Git to use your signing key
git config --global gpg.program $(which gpg)
The below command needs the fingerprint from step 10 above:
Step 14: Configure Git to sign all commits (Optional-you can configure this per repository too)
git config --global user.signingkey 1111111
This tells Git to sign all commits using the key you specified in step 13.
Step 15: Perform a Commit
git config --global commit.gpgsign true
Step 16: Pinentry Prompt
git commit -S -s -m "My Signed Commit"
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 Github.com 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: