Getting started

To use this guide you will need to be working in the terminal, like Bash or Zsh. I also make the assumption that you’re using Mac hardware and software. In particular, you need to have Git and Keybase installed along with Homebrew.

GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) is pretty dope. It allows you to send encrypted information from yourself to another trusted person. You’re able to control who the other trusted person is by practicing safe distribution of your public key. They can verify messages that you send them signed (encrypted) with your private key by using their copy of your public key to decrypt it.

So, I had a Keybase account before the whole [Verified] thing on GitHub was on my radar. I didn’t know much about it or how it would be something that I wanted to do for my workflow. I already considered my selfies to be enough to validate my identity. 😜

Let’s walk through setting up GitHub verified commits and tags with GPG and Keybase. Follow along with the great Keybase GPG GitHub repository otherwise continue reading below to take an existing Keybase key and use it for your GitHub account.

You already have a Keybase account and key

If you don’t already have gpg installed on your machine, just brew some up from source.

brew install gpg

You need to get a list of your PGP keys from Keybase. Since you’re reading this you should have one. The Keybase Key ID is important to note here so you might want to export to your environment. You will need it later. The output below has a suggestion for what you want to call the variable.

keybase pgp list

PGP Identities:
   Name Last <>
#             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Mind your identities, at least one of them must
#                               match an email address you have associated with
#                               GitHub account and should match all the email
#                               address that you commit and push to GitHub.

To use GPG for GitHub verified commits, you need to export your key from Keybase. This is easy to do from command line using the Keybase client. You want to make sure you include the secret key and import that into GPG with the correct flags.

keybase pgp export -s | \
gpg --import --allow-secret-key-import# shortened for brevity
GPG key imported!

Next, make sure that your key was imported correctly. Your identity should be carried over from the keybase pgp list command above. The secret signing key is what you’re going be using in your ~/.gitconfig.

gpg --list-secret-keys

sec   7530G/5S2M8G66 2016-04-05 [expires: 3204-04-01]
#           ^^^^^^^^ You're going to use this in your Git configuration file to
#                    track your key
uid                  Name Last <>
ssb   7530G/618n55f5 2016-04-05

Use the following environment variable to configure installation of Git. Then run the following commands to configure both Git and GitHub.

export MY_SIGNING_KEY="$(gpg --list-secret-keys | \
                         grep -E '\s.*\/.*\s' | \
                         cut -d / -f 2 | \
                         grep -o -E '^(\d\w)+ ')"

git config --global user.signingkey $MY_SIGNING_KEY && \
git config --global commit.gpgsign true

Next, using your key ID from the first command export your public key to upload it to GitHub. Copy your public key to your clipboard via pbcopy and configure your GPG installation with your signing key. In your browser, create a new GPG key in your GitHub account and paste your public key.

export MY_KEY_ID="$(keybase pgp list | \
                 grep -oiE 'key id.*$' | \
                 grep -oE '[a-zA-Z0-9]+$')"
keybase pgp export -q $MY_KEY_ID | pbcopy && \
echo "default-key $MY_SIGNING_KEY" >> ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf && \

You should use gpg-agent and pinentry-mac to properly set up your Keychain to handle the passphrase verification. The instructions are in the repo mentioned below.

You don’t already have a Keybase key, but you have an account

I mentioned it above. Please follow along on the instructions in the Keybase GPG GitHub repository’s The instructions there were adapted for the guide above.

If you’re PGP identities don’t match your GitHub emails

When running keybase pgp list, you noticed that your PGP Identities there didn’t match any of your email address you use with Git and GitHub. You’ll need to update your GPG key to include these email addresses as identities in order to get the [Verified] icon on GitHub.

Verify your PGP Identities

In order for GitHub to properly verify your identity, they ask you to verify your email address in order to confirm that email address with the email address supplied in your Git commit.

For instance, I have two email addresses I regularly commit with. I use my email for committing work-related changes and use my email for committing personal-related changes to repositories on GitHub. It also allows me to filter my GitHub emails based on activity to each address.

keybase pgp list

# shortened for emphasis, brevity, and security
PGP Identities:
   Roger Steve Ruiz <>
   Roger Steve Ruiz <>

If your PGP identities from above do not contain any verifiable email or any of the emails you use to commit with Git and GitHub, you need to make sure to add that email address (uid) to your PGP identities before adding your Keybase public key to GitHub. If you already uploaded a GPG key to GitHub with the wrong identities, you can delete it and add your GPG key again. Since the public key will have the same identifier, GitHub won’t let you add a duplicate key even though the Email Addresses have been updated.

You can’t really do this from within Keybase itself as far as I know, but you can import keys from your local GPG keyring. That means that you will be updated the uids on for your keyring with Name and Email fields and then resync those with your Keybase account.

Ahmad Nassri has a great guide on how to update your GPG uid to update the email address for your GPG key and update your Keybase key as well.

If you’ve made it this far…

I have some Keybase invites left. If you’re interested, hit me up in the various ways provided all over the internet and I’ll send you one.