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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 Git Bash and type:

ls -al ~/.ssh
# Lists the files in your .ssh directory, if they exist

Check the directory listing to see if you already have a public SSH key. The default public key file names are:


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 address. The default settings are preferred, so when you’re prompted to “Enter a file in which to save the key”, just press Enter to continue.

ssh-keygen -t rsa -C ""
# 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]

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 /c/Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa.
# Your public key has been saved in /c/Users/you/.ssh/
# The key fingerprint is:
# 01:0f:f4:3b:ca:85:d6:17:a1:7d:f0:68:9d:f0:a2:db

Then add your new key to the ssh-agent:

# start the ssh-agent in the background
ssh-agent -s
# Agent pid 59566
ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Step 3: Add your SSH key to your account

Run the following command to copy the key to your clipboard. Keep in mind that your key may also be named, or

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

Alternatively, using your favorite text editor, you can open the public key file and copy the contents of the file manually.

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

  1. Settings icon in the user barIn the top right corner of any page, click .
  2. SSH keysIn the user settings sidebar, click SSH keys.
  3. SSH Key buttonClick Add SSH key.
  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. The key fieldPaste your key into the “Key” field.
  6. The Add key buttonClick Add key.
  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 was the passphrase you created earlier.

Open up your Git Bash and type:

ssh -T
# Attempts to ssh to GitHub

You may see this warning:

# The authenticity of host ' (' 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.