MacGPG: when using SSH, always prompted for passphrase even though it's saved in keychain

(anonymous)'s Avatar


07 May, 2022 02:43 PM

I'm running Monterey 12.3.1 + GPG Suite 2022.1 on 2 Macs (Intel MacBook Air and M1 Mac Mini). I saved my GPG passphrase in Keychain.

Basically it's working well, but I have followed in my ~/.bash_profile to ensure that pinentry-mac prompts via Terminal instead of opening up the GUI window in case it needs to prompt for the passphrase.

if [[ -n "$SSH_CONNECTION" ]]; then

The issue is, no matter what I do, if I leave this code in my .bash_profile, I always get prompted to enter my passphrase, even if it's saved in keychain and I am sure my keychain is unlocked, gpg-agent is running etc.

Am I doing something wrong? Any tips for debugging why pinentry is prompting instead of reading from the keychain if USE_CURSES is set? I tried running echo test | gpg --debug-all --clearsign but tbh it dumps so much info that I am not sure where to begin.

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Luke Le on 24 May, 2022 09:28 PM

    Luke Le's Avatar


    This is unfortunately a caveat of macOS that doesn't grant access to a user's keychain unless the user has previously manually unlocked it via the graphical user interface.
    You could try that, by logging on to the machine via VNC. Running a sign gpg command from Terminal (via VNC) and after that running the command again from your local Mac via SSH.

    Does that work?

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