SSH-ADD(1)               BSD General Commands Manual              SSH-ADD(1)

NAME         top

ssh-add — adds private key identities to the authentication agent

SYNOPSIS         top

ssh-add [-cDdkLlXx] [-t life] [file …]
ssh-add -s pkcs11
ssh-add -e pkcs11

DESCRIPTION         top

ssh-add adds private key identities to the authentication agent,
ssh-agent(1).  When run without arguments, it adds the files
~/.ssh/id_rsa, ~/.ssh/id_dsa, ~/.ssh/id_ecdsa, ~/.ssh/id_ed25519 and
~/.ssh/identity.  After loading a private key, ssh-add will try to load
corresponding certificate information from the filename obtained by
appending to the name of the private key file.  Alternative
file names can be given on the command line.

If any file requires a passphrase, ssh-add asks for the passphrase from
the user.  The passphrase is read from the user’s tty.  ssh-add retries
the last passphrase if multiple identity files are given.

The authentication agent must be running and the SSH_AUTH_SOCK environ‐
ment variable must contain the name of its socket for ssh-add to work.

The options are as follows:

-c      Indicates that added identities should be subject to confirma‐
tion before being used for authentication.  Confirmation is
performed by the SSH_ASKPASS program mentioned below.  Success‐
ful confirmation is signaled by a zero exit status from the
SSH_ASKPASS program, rather than text entered into the

-D      Deletes all identities from the agent.

-d      Instead of adding identities, removes identities from the
agent.  If ssh-add has been run without arguments, the keys for
the default identities and their corresponding certificates
will be removed.  Otherwise, the argument list will be inter‐
preted as a list of paths to public key files to specify keys
and certificates to be removed from the agent.  If no public
key is found at a given path, ssh-add will append .pub and

-e pkcs11
Remove keys provided by the PKCS#11 shared library pkcs11.

-k      When loading keys into or deleting keys from the agent, process
plain private keys only and skip certificates.

-L      Lists public key parameters of all identities currently repre‐
sented by the agent.

-l      Lists fingerprints of all identities currently represented by
the agent.

-s pkcs11
Add keys provided by the PKCS#11 shared library pkcs11.

-t life
Set a maximum lifetime when adding identities to an agent.  The
lifetime may be specified in seconds or in a time format speci‐
fied in sshd_config(5).

-X      Unlock the agent.

-x      Lock the agent with a password.

ENVIRONMENT         top

If ssh-add needs a passphrase, it will read the passphrase from
the current terminal if it was run from a terminal.  If ssh-add
does not have a terminal associated with it but DISPLAY and
SSH_ASKPASS are set, it will execute the program specified by
SSH_ASKPASS and open an X11 window to read the passphrase.
This is particularly useful when calling ssh-add from a
.xsession or related script.  (Note that on some machines it
may be necessary to redirect the input from /dev/null to make
this work.)

Identifies the path of a UNIX-domain socket used to communicate
with the agent.

FILES         top

Contains the protocol version 1 RSA authentication identity of
the user.

Contains the protocol version 2 DSA authentication identity of
the user.

Contains the protocol version 2 ECDSA authentication identity
of the user.

Contains the protocol version 2 ED25519 authentication identity
of the user.

Contains the protocol version 2 RSA authentication identity of
the user.

Identity files should not be readable by anyone but the user.  Note
that ssh-add ignores identity files if they are accessible by others.

EXIT STATUS         top

Exit status is 0 on success, 1 if the specified command fails, and 2 if
ssh-add is unable to contact the authentication agent.

SEE ALSO         top

ssh(1), ssh-agent(1), ssh-keygen(1), sshd(8)

AUTHORS         top

OpenSSH is a derivative of the original and free ssh 1.2.12 release by
Tatu Ylonen.  Aaron Campbell, Bob Beck, Markus Friedl, Niels Provos,
Theo de Raadt and Dug Song removed many bugs, re-added newer features
and created OpenSSH.  Markus Friedl contributed the support for SSH
protocol versions 1.5 and 2.0.

COLOPHON         top

This page is part of the openssh (Portable OpenSSH) project.  Informa‐
tion about the project can be found at  If you have a bug report for
this manual page, see  This page
was obtained from the tarball openssh-6.7p1.tar.gz fetched from on 2014-12-30.
If you discover any rendering problems in this HTML version of the
page, or you believe there is a better or more up-to-date source for
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mail to [email protected]

BSD                           December 31, 2014                          BSD


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