GPG2(1) GNU Privacy Guard GPG2(1)
gpg2 - OpenPGP encryption and signing tool
gpg2 [--homedir dir] [--options file] [options] command [args]
gpg2 is the OpenPGP part of the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG). It is a tool to provide digital encryption and signing services using the
OpenPGP standard. gpg2 features complete key management and all bells and whistles you can expect from a decent OpenPGP implementation.
In contrast to the standalone version gpg, which is more suited for server and embedded platforms, this version is commonly installed under
the name gpg2 and more targeted to the desktop as it requires several other modules to be installed. The standalone version will be kept
maintained and it is possible to install both versions on the same system. If you need to use different configuration files, you should
make use of something like 'gpg.conf-2' instead of just 'gpg.conf'.
The program returns 0 if everything was fine, 1 if at least a signature was bad, and other error codes for fatal errors.
Use a *good* password for your user account and a *good* passphrase to protect your secret key. This passphrase is the weakest part of the
whole system. Programs to do dictionary attacks on your secret keyring are very easy to write and so you should protect your "~/.gnupg/"
directory very well.
Keep in mind that, if this program is used over a network (telnet), it is *very* easy to spy out your passphrase!
If you are going to verify detached signatures, make sure that the program knows about it; either give both filenames on the command line
or use '-' to specify STDIN.
GnuPG tries to be a very flexible implementation of the OpenPGP standard. In particular, GnuPG implements many of the optional parts of the
standard, such as the SHA-512 hash, and the ZLIB and BZIP2 compression algorithms. It is important to be aware that not all OpenPGP pro-
grams implement these optional algorithms and that by forcing their use via the --cipher-algo, --digest-algo, --cert-digest-algo, or --com-
press-algo options in GnuPG, it is possible to create a perfectly valid OpenPGP message, but one that cannot be read by the intended recip-
There are dozens of variations of OpenPGP programs available, and each supports a slightly different subset of these optional algorithms.
For example, until recently, no (unhacked) version of PGP supported the BLOWFISH cipher algorithm. A message using BLOWFISH simply could
not be read by a PGP user. By default, GnuPG uses the standard OpenPGP preferences system that will always do the right thing and create
messages that are usable by all recipients, regardless of which OpenPGP program they use. Only override this safe default if you really
know what you are doing.
If you absolutely must override the safe default, or if the preferences on a given key are invalid for some reason, you are far better off
using the --pgp6, --pgp7, or --pgp8 options. These options are safe as they do not force any particular algorithms in violation of OpenPGP,
but rather reduce the available algorithms to a "PGP-safe" list.
Commands are not distinguished from options except for the fact that only one command is allowed.
gpg2 may be run with no commands, in which case it will perform a reasonable action depending on the type of file it is given as input (an
encrypted message is decrypted, a signature is verified, a file containing keys is listed).
Please remember that option as well as command parsing stops as soon as a non-option is encountered, you can explicitly stop parsing by
using the special option --.
Commands not specific to the function
Print the program version and licensing information. Note that you cannot abbreviate this command.
-h Print a usage message summarizing the most useful command line options. Note that you cannot abbreviate this command.
Print warranty information.
Print a list of all available options and commands. Note that you cannot abbreviate this command.
Commands to select the type of operation
-s Make a signature. This command may be combined with --encrypt (for a signed and encrypted message), --symmetric (for a signed and
symmetrically encrypted message), or --encrypt and --symmetric together (for a signed message that may be decrypted via a secret key
or a passphrase). The key to be used for signing is chosen by default or can be set with the --local-user and --default-key
Make a clear text signature. The content in a clear text signature is readable without any special software. OpenPGP software is
only needed to verify the signature. Clear text signatures may modify end-of-line whitespace for platform independence and are not
intended to be reversible. The key to be used for signing is chosen by default or can be set with the --local-user and --default-
-b Make a detached signature.
-e Encrypt data. This option may be combined with --sign (for a signed and encrypted message), --symmetric (for a message that may be
decrypted via a secret key or a passphrase), or --sign and --symmetric together (for a signed message that may be decrypted via a
secret key or a passphrase).
-c Encrypt with a symmetric cipher using a passphrase. The default symmetric cipher used is CAST5, but may be chosen with the --cipher-
algo option. This option may be combined with --sign (for a signed and symmetrically encrypted message), --encrypt (for a message
that may be decrypted via a secret key or a passphrase), or --sign and --encrypt together (for a signed message that may be
decrypted via a secret key or a passphrase).
Store only (make a simple RFC1991 literal data packet).
-d Decrypt the file given on the command line (or STDIN if no file is specified) and write it to STDOUT (or the file specified with
--output). If the decrypted file is signed, the signature is also verified. This command differs from the default operation, as it
never writes to the filename which is included in the file and it rejects files which don't begin with an encrypted message.
Assume that the first argument is a signed file or a detached signature and verify it without generating any output. With no argu-
ments, the signature packet is read from STDIN. If only a sigfile is given, it may be a complete signature or a detached signature,
in which case the signed stuff is expected in a file without the ".sig" or ".asc" extension. With more than 1 argument, the first
should be a detached signature and the remaining files are the signed stuff. To read the signed stuff from STDIN, use '-' as the
second filename. For security reasons a detached signature cannot read the signed material from STDIN without denoting it in the
This modifies certain other commands to accept multiple files for processing on the command line or read from STDIN with each file-
name on a separate line. This allows for many files to be processed at once. --multifile may currently be used along with --verify,
--encrypt, and --decrypt. Note that --multifile --verify may not be used with detached signatures.
Identical to --multifile --verify.
Identical to --multifile --encrypt.
Identical to --multifile --decrypt.
List all keys from the public keyrings, or just the keys given on the command line.
Avoid using the output of this command in scripts or other programs as it is likely to change as GnuPG changes. See --with-colons
for a machine-parseable key listing command that is appropriate for use in scripts and other programs.
-K List all keys from the secret keyrings, or just the ones given on the command line. A # after the letters sec means that the secret
key is not usable (for example, if it was created via --export-secret-subkeys).
Same as --list-keys, but the signatures are listed too. This command has the same effect as using --list-keys with --with-sig-list.
For each signature listed, there are several flags in between the "sig" tag and keyid. These flags give additional information about
each signature. From left to right, they are the numbers 1-3 for certificate check level (see --ask-cert-level), "L" for a local or
non-exportable signature (see --lsign-key), "R" for a nonRevocable signature (see the --edit-key command "nrsign"), "P" for a signa-
ture that contains a policy URL (see --cert-policy-url), "N" for a signature that contains a notation (see --cert-notation), "X" for
an eXpired signature (see --ask-cert-expire), and the numbers 1-9 or "T" for 10 and above to indicate trust signature levels (see
the --edit-key command "tsign").
Same as --list-sigs, but the signatures are verified. Note that for performance reasons the revocation status of a signing key is
not shown. This command has the same effect as using --list-keys with --with-sig-check.
The status of the verification is indicated by a flag directly following the "sig" tag (and thus before the flags described above
for --list-sigs). A "!" indicates that the signature has been successfully verified, a "-" denotes a bad signature and a "%" is
used if an error occurred while checking the signature (e.g. a non supported algorithm).
Locate the keys given as arguments. This command basically uses the same algorithm as used when locating keys for encryption or
signing and may thus be used to see what keys gpg2 might use. In particular external methods as defined by --auto-key-locate may be
used to locate a key. Only public keys are listed.
List all keys (or the specified ones) along with their fingerprints. This is the same output as --list-keys but with the additional
output of a line with the fingerprint. May also be combined with --list-sigs or --check-sigs. If this command is given twice, the
fingerprints of all secondary keys are listed too.
List only the sequence of packets. This is mainly useful for debugging.
Present a menu to work with a smartcard. The subcommand "help" provides an overview on available commands. For a detailed descrip-
tion, please see the Card HOWTO at http://www.gnupg.org/documentation/howtos.html#GnuPG-cardHOWTO .
Show the content of the smart card.
Present a menu to allow changing the PIN of a smartcard. This functionality is also available as the subcommand "passwd" with the
Remove key from the public keyring. In batch mode either --yes is required or the key must be specified by fingerprint. This is a
safeguard against accidental deletion of multiple keys.
Remove key from the secret and public keyring. In batch mode the key must be specified by fingerprint.
Same as --delete-key, but if a secret key exists, it will be removed first. In batch mode the key must be specified by fingerprint.
Either export all keys from all keyrings (default keyrings and those registered via option --keyring), or if at least one name is
given, those of the given name. The new keyring is written to STDOUT or to the file given with option --output. Use together with
--armor to mail those keys.
--send-keys key IDs
Similar to --export but sends the keys to a keyserver. Fingerprints may be used instead of key IDs. Option --keyserver must be used
to give the name of this keyserver. Don't send your complete keyring to a keyserver --- select only those keys which are new or
changed by you. If no key IDs are given, gpg does nothing.
Same as --export, but exports the secret keys instead. This is normally not very useful and a security risk. The second form of
the command has the special property to render the secret part of the primary key useless; this is a GNU extension to OpenPGP and
other implementations can not be expected to successfully import such a key. See the option --simple-sk-checksum if you want to
import such an exported key with an older OpenPGP implementation.
Import/merge keys. This adds the given keys to the keyring. The fast version is currently just a synonym.
There are a few other options which control how this command works. Most notable here is the --import-options merge-only option
which does not insert new keys but does only the merging of new signatures, user-IDs and subkeys.
--recv-keys key IDs
Import the keys with the given key IDs from a keyserver. Option --keyserver must be used to give the name of this keyserver.
Request updates from a keyserver for keys that already exist on the local keyring. This is useful for updating a key with the latest
signatures, user IDs, etc. Calling this with no arguments will refresh the entire keyring. Option --keyserver must be used to give
the name of the keyserver for all keys that do not have preferred keyservers set (see --keyserver-options honor-keyserver-url).
Search the keyserver for the given names. Multiple names given here will be joined together to create the search string for the key-
server. Option --keyserver must be used to give the name of this keyserver. Keyservers that support different search methods allow
using the syntax specified in "How to specify a user ID" below. Note that different keyserver types support different search meth-
ods. Currently only LDAP supports them all.
Retrieve keys located at the specified URIs. Note that different installations of GnuPG may support different protocols (HTTP, FTP,
Do trust database maintenance. This command iterates over all keys and builds the Web of Trust. This is an interactive command
because it may have to ask for the "ownertrust" values for keys. The user has to give an estimation of how far she trusts the owner
of the displayed key to correctly certify (sign) other keys. GnuPG only asks for the ownertrust value if it has not yet been
assigned to a key. Using the --edit-key menu, the assigned value can be changed at any time.
Do trust database maintenance without user interaction. From time to time the trust database must be updated so that expired keys or
signatures and the resulting changes in the Web of Trust can be tracked. Normally, GnuPG will calculate when this is required and do
it automatically unless --no-auto-check-trustdb is set. This command can be used to force a trust database check at any time. The
processing is identical to that of --update-trustdb but it skips keys with a not yet defined "ownertrust".
For use with cron jobs, this command can be used together with --batch in which case the trust database check is done only if a
check is needed. To force a run even in batch mode add the option --yes.
Send the ownertrust values to STDOUT. This is useful for backup purposes as these values are the only ones which can't be re-created
from a corrupted trustdb. Example:
gpg2 --export-ownertrust > otrust.txt
Update the trustdb with the ownertrust values stored in files (or STDIN if not given); existing values will be overwritten. In case
of a severely damaged trustdb and if you have a recent backup of the ownertrust values (e.g. in the file 'otrust.txt', you may re-
create the trustdb using these commands:
gpg2 --import-ownertrust < otrust.txt
When updating from version 1.0.6 to 1.0.7 this command should be used to create signature caches in the keyring. It might be handy
in other situations too.
Print message digest of algorithm ALGO for all given files or STDIN. With the second form (or a deprecated "*" as algo) digests for
all available algorithms are printed.
--gen-random 0|1|2 count
Emit count random bytes of the given quality level 0, 1 or 2. If count is not given or zero, an endless sequence of random bytes
will be emitted. If used with --armor the output will be base64 encoded. PLEASE, don't use this command unless you know what you
are doing; it may remove precious entropy from the system!
--gen-prime mode bits
Use the source, Luke :-). The output format is still subject to change.
Pack or unpack an arbitrary input into/from an OpenPGP ASCII armor. This is a GnuPG extension to OpenPGP and in general not very
How to manage your keys
This section explains the main commands for key management
Generate a new key pair. This command is normally only used interactively.
There is an experimental feature which allows you to create keys in batch mode. See the file 'doc/DETAILS' in the source distribu-
tion on how to use this.
Generate a revocation certificate for the complete key. To revoke a subkey or a signature, use the --edit command.
Generate a designated revocation certificate for a key. This allows a user (with the permission of the keyholder) to revoke someone
Present a menu which enables you to do most of the key management related tasks. It expects the specification of a key on the com-
uid n Toggle selection of user ID or photographic user ID with index n. Use * to select all and 0 to deselect all.
key n Toggle selection of subkey with index n. Use * to select all and 0 to deselect all.
sign Make a signature on key of user name If the key is not yet signed by the default user (or the users given with -u), the pro-
gram displays the information of the key again, together with its fingerprint and asks whether it should be signed. This
question is repeated for all users specified with -u.
lsign Same as "sign" but the signature is marked as non-exportable and will therefore never be used by others. This may be used to
make keys valid only in the local environment.
nrsign Same as "sign" but the signature is marked as non-revocable and can therefore never be revoked.
tsign Make a trust signature. This is a signature that combines the notions of certification (like a regular signature), and trust
(like the "trust" command). It is generally only useful in distinct communities or groups.
Note that "l" (for local / non-exportable), "nr" (for non-revocable, and "t" (for trust) may be freely mixed and prefixed to "sign"
to create a signature of any type desired.
delsig Delete a signature. Note that it is not possible to retract a signature, once it has been send to the public (i.e. to a key-
server). In that case you better use revsig.
revsig Revoke a signature. For every signature which has been generated by one of the secret keys, GnuPG asks whether a revocation
certificate should be generated.
check Check the signatures on all selected user IDs.
adduid Create an additional user ID.
Create a photographic user ID. This will prompt for a JPEG file that will be embedded into the user ID. Note that a very
large JPEG will make for a very large key. Also note that some programs will display your JPEG unchanged (GnuPG), and some
programs will scale it to fit in a dialog box (PGP).
Display the selected photographic user ID.
deluid Delete a user ID or photographic user ID. Note that it is not possible to retract a user id, once it has been send to the
public (i.e. to a keyserver). In that case you better use revuid.
revuid Revoke a user ID or photographic user ID.
Flag the current user id as the primary one, removes the primary user id flag from all other user ids and sets the timestamp
of all affected self-signatures one second ahead. Note that setting a photo user ID as primary makes it primary over other
photo user IDs, and setting a regular user ID as primary makes it primary over other regular user IDs.
Set a preferred keyserver for the specified user ID(s). This allows other users to know where you prefer they get your key
from. See --keyserver-options honor-keyserver-url for more on how this works. Setting a value of "none" removes an existing
Set a name=value notation for the specified user ID(s). See --cert-notation for more on how this works. Setting a value of
"none" removes all notations, setting a notation prefixed with a minus sign (-) removes that notation, and setting a notation
name (without the =value) prefixed with a minus sign removes all notations with that name.
pref List preferences from the selected user ID. This shows the actual preferences, without including any implied preferences.
More verbose preferences listing for the selected user ID. This shows the preferences in effect by including the implied
preferences of 3DES (cipher), SHA-1 (digest), and Uncompressed (compression) if they are not already included in the prefer-
ence list. In addition, the preferred keyserver and signature notations (if any) are shown.
Set the list of user ID preferences to string for all (or just the selected) user IDs. Calling setpref with no arguments sets
the preference list to the default (either built-in or set via --default-preference-list), and calling setpref with "none" as
the argument sets an empty preference list. Use gpg2 --version to get a list of available algorithms. Note that while you can
change the preferences on an attribute user ID (aka "photo ID"), GnuPG does not select keys via attribute user IDs so these
preferences will not be used by GnuPG.
When setting preferences, you should list the algorithms in the order which you'd like to see them used by someone else when
encrypting a message to your key. If you don't include 3DES, it will be automatically added at the end. Note that there are
many factors that go into choosing an algorithm (for example, your key may not be the only recipient), and so the remote
OpenPGP application being used to send to you may or may not follow your exact chosen order for a given message. It will,
however, only choose an algorithm that is present on the preference list of every recipient key. See also the INTEROPERABIL-
ITY WITH OTHER OPENPGP PROGRAMS section below.
addkey Add a subkey to this key.
Generate a subkey on a card and add it to this key.
Transfer the selected secret subkey (or the primary key if no subkey has been selected) to a smartcard. The secret key in the
keyring will be replaced by a stub if the key could be stored successfully on the card and you use the save command later.
Only certain key types may be transferred to the card. A sub menu allows you to select on what card to store the key. Note
that it is not possible to get that key back from the card - if the card gets broken your secret key will be lost unless you
have a backup somewhere.
Restore the given file to a card. This command may be used to restore a backup key (as generated during card initialization)
to a new card. In almost all cases this will be the encryption key. You should use this command only with the corresponding
public key and make sure that the file given as argument is indeed the backup to restore. You should then select 2 to restore
as encryption key. You will first be asked to enter the passphrase of the backup key and then for the Admin PIN of the card.
delkey Remove a subkey (secondart key). Note that it is not possible to retract a subkey, once it has been send to the public (i.e.
to a keyserver). In that case you better use revkey.
revkey Revoke a subkey.
expire Change the key or subkey expiration time. If a subkey is selected, the expiration time of this subkey will be changed. With
no selection, the key expiration of the primary key is changed.
trust Change the owner trust value for the key. This updates the trust-db immediately and no save is required.
enable Disable or enable an entire key. A disabled key can not normally be used for encryption.
Add a designated revoker to the key. This takes one optional argument: "sensitive". If a designated revoker is marked as sen-
sitive, it will not be exported by default (see export-options).
passwd Change the passphrase of the secret key.
toggle Toggle between public and secret key listing.
clean Compact (by removing all signatures except the selfsig) any user ID that is no longer usable (e.g. revoked, or expired).
Then, remove any signatures that are not usable by the trust calculations. Specifically, this removes any signature that
does not validate, any signature that is superseded by a later signature, revoked signatures, and signatures issued by keys
that are not present on the keyring.
Make the key as small as possible. This removes all signatures from each user ID except for the most recent self-signature.
Add cross-certification signatures to signing subkeys that may not currently have them. Cross-certification signatures pro-
tect against a subtle attack against signing subkeys. See --require-cross-certification. All new keys generated have this
signature by default, so this option is only useful to bring older keys up to date.
save Save all changes to the key rings and quit.
quit Quit the program without updating the key rings.
The listing shows you the key with its secondary keys and all user ids. The primary user id is indicated by a dot, and selected
keys or user ids are indicated by an asterisk. The trust value is displayed with the primary key: the first is the assigned owner
trust and the second is the calculated trust value. Letters are used for the values:
- No ownertrust assigned / not yet calculated.
e Trust calculation has failed; probably due to an expired key.
q Not enough information for calculation.
n Never trust this key.
m Marginally trusted.
f Fully trusted.
u Ultimately trusted.
Signs a public key with your secret key. This is a shortcut version of the subcommand "sign" from --edit.
Signs a public key with your secret key but marks it as non-exportable. This is a shortcut version of the subcommand "lsign" from
Change the passphrase of the secret key belonging to the certificate specified as user_id. This is a shortcut for the sub-command
passwd of the edit key menu.
gpg2 features a bunch of options to control the exact behaviour and to change the default configuration.
Long options can be put in an options file (default "~/.gnupg/gpg.conf"). Short option names will not work - for example, "armor" is a
valid option for the options file, while "a" is not. Do not write the 2 dashes, but simply the name of the option and any required argu-
ments. Lines with a hash ('#') as the first non-white-space character are ignored. Commands may be put in this file too, but that is not
generally useful as the command will execute automatically with every execution of gpg.
Please remember that option parsing stops as soon as a non-option is encountered, you can explicitly stop parsing by using the special
How to change the configuration
These options are used to change the configuration and are usually found in the option file.
Use name as the default key to sign with. If this option is not used, the default key is the first key found in the secret keyring.
Note that -u or --local-user overrides this option.
Use name as default recipient if option --recipient is not used and don't ask if this is a valid one. name must be non-empty.
Use the default key as default recipient if option --recipient is not used and don't ask if this is a valid one. The default key is
the first one from the secret keyring or the one set with --default-key.
Reset --default-recipient and --default-recipient-self.
Give more information during processing. If used twice, the input data is listed in detail.
Reset verbose level to 0.
Try to be as quiet as possible.
Use batch mode. Never ask, do not allow interactive commands. --no-batch disables this option. Note that even with a filename
given on the command line, gpg might still need to read from STDIN (in particular if gpg figures that the input is a detached signa-
ture and no data file has been specified). Thus if you do not want to feed data via STDIN, you should connect STDIN to '/dev/null'.
Make sure that the TTY (terminal) is never used for any output. This option is needed in some cases because GnuPG sometimes prints
warnings to the TTY even if --batch is used.
--yes Assume "yes" on most questions.
--no Assume "no" on most questions.
This is a space or comma delimited string that gives options used when listing keys and signatures (that is, --list-keys, --list-
sigs, --list-public-keys, --list-secret-keys, and the --edit-key functions). Options can be prepended with a no- (after the two
dashes) to give the opposite meaning. The options are:
Causes --list-keys, --list-sigs, --list-public-keys, and --list-secret-keys to display any photo IDs attached to the key.
Defaults to no. See also --photo-viewer. Does not work with --with-colons: see --attribute-fd for the appropriate way to get
photo data for scripts and other frontends.
Show policy URLs in the --list-sigs or --check-sigs listings. Defaults to no.
Show all, IETF standard, or user-defined signature notations in the --list-sigs or --check-sigs listings. Defaults to no.
Show any preferred keyserver URL in the --list-sigs or --check-sigs listings. Defaults to no.
Display the calculated validity of user IDs during key listings. Defaults to no.
Show revoked and expired user IDs in key listings. Defaults to no.
Show revoked and expired subkeys in key listings. Defaults to no.
Display the keyring name at the head of key listings to show which keyring a given key resides on. Defaults to no.
Show signature expiration dates (if any) during --list-sigs or --check-sigs listings. Defaults to no.
Include signature subpackets in the key listing. This option can take an optional argument list of the subpackets to list. If
no argument is passed, list all subpackets. Defaults to no. This option is only meaningful when using --with-colons along
with --list-sigs or --check-sigs.
This is a space or comma delimited string that gives options used when verifying signatures. Options can be prepended with a `no-'
to give the opposite meaning. The options are:
Display any photo IDs present on the key that issued the signature. Defaults to no. See also --photo-viewer.
Show policy URLs in the signature being verified. Defaults to no.
Show all, IETF standard, or user-defined signature notations in the signature being verified. Defaults to IETF standard.
Show any preferred keyserver URL in the signature being verified. Defaults to no.
Display the calculated validity of the user IDs on the key that issued the signature. Defaults to no.
Show revoked and expired user IDs during signature verification. Defaults to no.
Show only the primary user ID during signature verification. That is all the AKA lines as well as photo Ids are not shown
with the signature verification status.
Enable PKA lookups to verify sender addresses. Note that PKA is based on DNS, and so enabling this option may disclose infor-
mation on when and what signatures are verified or to whom data is encrypted. This is similar to the "web bug" described for
the auto-key-retrieve feature.
Raise the trust in a signature to full if the signature passes PKA validation. This option is only meaningful if pka-lookups
Enable hash truncation for all DSA keys even for old DSA Keys up to 1024 bit. This is also the default with --openpgp. Note that
older versions of GnuPG also required this flag to allow the generation of DSA larger than 1024 bit.
This is the command line that should be run to view a photo ID. "%i" will be expanded to a filename containing the photo. "%I" does
the same, except the file will not be deleted once the viewer exits. Other flags are "%k" for the key ID, "%K" for the long key ID,
"%f" for the key fingerprint, "%t" for the extension of the image type (e.g. "jpg"), "%T" for the MIME type of the image (e.g.
"image/jpeg"), "%v" for the single-character calculated validity of the image being viewed (e.g. "f"), "%V" for the calculated
validity as a string (e.g. "full"), and "%%" for an actual percent sign. If neither %i or %I are present, then the photo will be
supplied to the viewer on standard input.
The default viewer is "xloadimage -fork -quiet -title 'KeyID 0x%k' STDIN". Note that if your image viewer program is not secure,
then executing it from GnuPG does not make it secure.
Sets a list of directories to search for photo viewers and keyserver helpers. If not provided, keyserver helpers use the compiled-in
default directory, and photo viewers use the $PATH environment variable. Note, that on W32 system this value is ignored when
searching for keyserver helpers.
Add file to the current list of keyrings. If file begins with a tilde and a slash, these are replaced by the $HOME directory. If the
filename does not contain a slash, it is assumed to be in the GnuPG home directory ("~/.gnupg" if --homedir or $GNUPGHOME is not
Note that this adds a keyring to the current list. If the intent is to use the specified keyring alone, use --keyring along with
Same as --keyring but for the secret keyrings.
Designate file as the primary public keyring. This means that newly imported keys (via --import or keyserver --recv-from) will go to
Use file instead of the default trustdb. If file begins with a tilde and a slash, these are replaced by the $HOME directory. If the
filename does not contain a slash, it is assumed to be in the GnuPG home directory ('~/.gnupg' if --homedir or $GNUPGHOME is not
Set the name of the home directory to dir. If this option is not used, the home directory defaults to '~/.gnupg'. It is only recog-
nized when given on the command line. It also overrides any home directory stated through the environment variable 'GNUPGHOME' or
(on W32 systems) by means of the Registry entry HKCUSoftwareGNUGnuPG:HomeDir.
Set the name of the native character set. This is used to convert some informational strings like user IDs to the proper UTF-8
encoding. Note that this has nothing to do with the character set of data to be encrypted or signed; GnuPG does not recode user-
supplied data. If this option is not used, the default character set is determined from the current locale. A verbosity level of 3
shows the chosen set. Valid values for name are:
This is the Latin 1 set.
The Latin 2 set.
This is currently an alias for the Latin 1 set.
koi8-r The usual Russian set (rfc1489).
utf-8 Bypass all translations and assume that the OS uses native UTF-8 encoding.
Assume that command line arguments are given as UTF8 strings. The default (--no-utf8-strings) is to assume that arguments are
encoded in the character set as specified by --display-charset. These options affect all following arguments. Both options may be
used multiple times.
Read options from file and do not try to read them from the default options file in the homedir (see --homedir). This option is
ignored if used in an options file.
Shortcut for --options /dev/null. This option is detected before an attempt to open an option file. Using this option will also
prevent the creation of a '~/.gnupg' homedir.
Set compression level to n for the ZIP and ZLIB compression algorithms. The default is to use the default compression level of zlib
(normally 6). --bzip2-compress-level sets the compression level for the BZIP2 compression algorithm (defaulting to 6 as well). This
is a different option from --compress-level since BZIP2 uses a significant amount of memory for each additional compression level.
-z sets both. A value of 0 for n disables compression.
Use a different decompression method for BZIP2 compressed files. This alternate method uses a bit more than half the memory, but
also runs at half the speed. This is useful under extreme low memory circumstances when the file was originally compressed at a high
Older version of Windows cannot handle filenames with more than one dot. --mangle-dos-filenames causes GnuPG to replace (rather than
add to) the extension of an output filename to avoid this problem. This option is off by default and has no effect on non-Windows
When making a key signature, prompt for a certification level. If this option is not specified, the certification level used is set
via --default-cert-level. See --default-cert-level for information on the specific levels and how they are used. --no-ask-cert-level
disables this option. This option defaults to no.
The default to use for the check level when signing a key.
0 means you make no particular claim as to how carefully you verified the key.
1 means you believe the key is owned by the person who claims to own it but you could not, or did not verify the key at all. This is
useful for a "persona" verification, where you sign the key of a pseudonymous user.
2 means you did casual verification of the key. For example, this could mean that you verified the key fingerprint and checked the
user ID on the key against a photo ID.
3 means you did extensive verification of the key. For example, this could mean that you verified the key fingerprint with the owner
of the key in person, and that you checked, by means of a hard to forge document with a photo ID (such as a passport) that the name
of the key owner matches the name in the user ID on the key, and finally that you verified (by exchange of email) that the email
address on the key belongs to the key owner.
Note that the examples given above for levels 2 and 3 are just that: examples. In the end, it is up to you to decide just what
"casual" and "extensive" mean to you.
This option defaults to 0 (no particular claim).
When building the trust database, treat any signatures with a certification level below this as invalid. Defaults to 2, which disre-
gards level 1 signatures. Note that level 0 "no particular claim" signatures are always accepted.
--trusted-key long key ID
Assume that the specified key (which must be given as a full 8 byte key ID) is as trustworthy as one of your own secret keys. This
option is useful if you don't want to keep your secret keys (or one of them) online but still want to be able to check the validity
of a given recipient's or signator's key.
Set what trust model GnuPG should follow. The models are:
pgp This is the Web of Trust combined with trust signatures as used in PGP 5.x and later. This is the default trust model when
creating a new trust database.
This is the standard Web of Trust as used in PGP 2.x and earlier.
direct Key validity is set directly by the user and not calculated via the Web of Trust.
always Skip key validation and assume that used keys are always fully trusted. You generally won't use this unless you are using
some external validation scheme. This option also suppresses the "[uncertain]" tag printed with signature checks when there
is no evidence that the user ID is bound to the key.
auto Select the trust model depending on whatever the internal trust database says. This is the default model if such a database
GnuPG can automatically locate and retrieve keys as needed using this option. This happens when encrypting to an email address (in
the "firstname.lastname@example.org" form), and there are no email@example.com keys on the local keyring. This option takes any number of the fol-
lowing mechanisms, in the order they are to be tried:
cert Locate a key using DNS CERT, as specified in rfc4398.
pka Locate a key using DNS PKA.
ldap Using DNS Service Discovery, check the domain in question for any LDAP keyservers to use. If this fails, attempt to locate
the key using the PGP Universal method of checking 'ldap://keys.(thedomain)'.
Locate a key using whatever keyserver is defined using the --keyserver option.
In addition, a keyserver URL as used in the --keyserver option may be used here to query that particular keyserver.
local Locate the key using the local keyrings. This mechanism allows to select the order a local key lookup is done. Thus using
'--auto-key-locate local' is identical to --no-auto-key-locate.
This flag disables the standard local key lookup, done before any of the mechanisms defined by the --auto-key-locate are
tried. The position of this mechanism in the list does not matter. It is not required if local is also used.
Select how to display key IDs. "short" is the traditional 8-character key ID. "long" is the more accurate (but less convenient)
16-character key ID. Add an "0x" to either to include an "0x" at the beginning of the key ID, as in 0x99242560. Note that this
option is ignored if the option --with-colons is used.
Use name as your keyserver. This is the server that --recv-keys, --send-keys, and --search-keys will communicate with to receive
keys from, send keys to, and search for keys on. The format of the name is a URI: `scheme:[//]keyservername[:port]' The scheme is
the type of keyserver: "hkp" for the HTTP (or compatible) keyservers, "ldap" for the LDAP keyservers, or "mailto" for the Graff
email keyserver. Note that your particular installation of GnuPG may have other keyserver types available as well. Keyserver schemes
are case-insensitive. After the keyserver name, optional keyserver configuration options may be provided. These are the same as the
global --keyserver-options from below, but apply only to this particular keyserver.
Most keyservers synchronize with each other, so there is generally no need to send keys to more than one server. The keyserver
hkp://keys.gnupg.net uses round robin DNS to give a different keyserver each time you use it.
This is a space or comma delimited string that gives options for the keyserver. Options can be prefixed with a `no-' to give the
opposite meaning. Valid import-options or export-options may be used here as well to apply to importing (--recv-key) or exporting
(--send-key) a key from a keyserver. While not all options are available for all keyserver types, some common options are:
When searching for a key with --search-keys, include keys that are marked on the keyserver as revoked. Note that not all key-
servers differentiate between revoked and unrevoked keys, and for such keyservers this option is meaningless. Note also that
most keyservers do not have cryptographic verification of key revocations, and so turning this option off may result in skip-
ping keys that are incorrectly marked as revoked.
When searching for a key with --search-keys, include keys that are marked on the keyserver as disabled. Note that this option
is not used with HKP keyservers.
This option enables the automatic retrieving of keys from a keyserver when verifying signatures made by keys that are not on
the local keyring.
Note that this option makes a "web bug" like behavior possible. Keyserver operators can see which keys you request, so by
sending you a message signed by a brand new key (which you naturally will not have on your local keyring), the operator can
tell both your IP address and the time when you verified the signature.
When using --refresh-keys, if the key in question has a preferred keyserver URL, then use that preferred keyserver to refresh
the key from. In addition, if auto-key-retrieve is set, and the signature being verified has a preferred keyserver URL, then
use that preferred keyserver to fetch the key from. Defaults to yes.
If auto-key-retrieve is set, and the signature being verified has a PKA record, then use the PKA information to fetch the
key. Defaults to yes.
When receiving a key, include subkeys as potential targets. Note that this option is not used with HKP keyservers, as they do
not support retrieving keys by subkey id.
On most Unix-like platforms, GnuPG communicates with the keyserver helper program via pipes, which is the most efficient
method. This option forces GnuPG to use temporary files to communicate. On some platforms (such as Win32 and RISC OS), this
option is always enabled.
If using `use-temp-files', do not delete the temp files after using them. This option is useful to learn the keyserver commu-
nication protocol by reading the temporary files.
Tell the keyserver helper program to be more verbose. This option can be repeated multiple times to increase the verbosity
Tell the keyserver helper program how long (in seconds) to try and perform a keyserver action before giving up. Note that
performing multiple actions at the same time uses this timeout value per action. For example, when retrieving multiple keys
via --recv-keys, the timeout applies separately to each key retrieval, and not to the --recv-keys command as a whole.
Defaults to 30 seconds.
Set the proxy to use for HTTP and HKP keyservers. This overrides the "http_proxy" environment variable, if any.
When retrieving a key via DNS CERT, only accept keys up to this size. Defaults to 16384 bytes.
debug Turn on debug output in the keyserver helper program. Note that the details of debug output depends on which keyserver
helper program is being used, and in turn, on any libraries that the keyserver helper program uses internally (libcurl,
Enable certificate checking if the keyserver presents one (for hkps or ldaps). Defaults to on.
Provide a certificate store to override the system default. Only necessary if check-cert is enabled, and the keyserver is
using a certificate that is not present in a system default certificate list.
Note that depending on the SSL library that the keyserver helper is built with, this may actually be a directory or a file.
Number of completely trusted users to introduce a new key signer (defaults to 1).
Number of marginally trusted users to introduce a new key signer (defaults to 3)
Maximum depth of a certification chain (default is 5).
Secret keys are integrity protected by using a SHA-1 checksum. This method is part of the upcoming enhanced OpenPGP specification
but GnuPG already uses it as a countermeasure against certain attacks. Old applications don't understand this new format, so this
option may be used to switch back to the old behaviour. Using this option bears a security risk. Note that using this option only
takes effect when the secret key is encrypted - the simplest way to make this happen is to change the passphrase on the key (even
changing it to the same value is acceptable).
Do not cache the verification status of key signatures. Caching gives a much better performance in key listings. However, if you
suspect that your public keyring is not save against write modifications, you can use this option to disable the caching. It proba-
bly does not make sense to disable it because all kind of damage can be done if someone else has write access to your public
GnuPG normally verifies each signature right after creation to protect against bugs and hardware malfunctions which could leak out
bits from the secret key. This extra verification needs some time (about 115% for DSA keys), and so this option can be used to dis-
able it. However, due to the fact that the signature creation needs manual interaction, this performance penalty does not matter in
If GnuPG feels that its information about the Web of Trust has to be updated, it automatically runs the --check-trustdb command
internally. This may be a time consuming process. --no-auto-check-trustdb disables this option.
This is dummy option. gpg2 always requires the agent.
This is dummy option. It has no effect when used with gpg2.
Lock the databases the first time a lock is requested and do not release the lock until the process terminates.
Release the locks every time a lock is no longer needed. Use this to override a previous --lock-once from a config file.
Disable locking entirely. This option should be used only in very special environments, where it can be assured that only one
process is accessing those files. A bootable floppy with a stand-alone encryption system will probably use this. Improper usage of
this option may lead to data and key corruption.
This option will cause write errors on the status FD to immediately terminate the process. That should in fact be the default but it
never worked this way and thus we need an option to enable this, so that the change won't break applications which close their end
of a status fd connected pipe too early. Using this option along with --enable-progress-filter may be used to cleanly cancel long
running gpg operations.
With n greater than 0 the number of prompts asking to insert a smartcard gets limited to N-1. Thus with a value of 1 gpg won't at
all ask to insert a card if none has been inserted at startup. This option is useful in the configuration file in case an applica-
tion does not know about the smartcard support and waits ad infinitum for an inserted card.
GnuPG uses a file to store its internal random pool over invocations. This makes random generation faster; however sometimes write
operations are not desired. This option can be used to achieve that with the cost of slower random generation.
Suppress the initial copyright message.
Suppress the warning about "using insecure memory".
Suppress the warning about unsafe file and home directory (--homedir) permissions. Note that the permission checks that GnuPG per-
forms are not intended to be authoritative, but rather they simply warn about certain common permission problems. Do not assume that
the lack of a warning means that your system is secure.
Note that the warning for unsafe --homedir permissions cannot be suppressed in the gpg.conf file, as this would allow an attacker to
place an unsafe gpg.conf file in place, and use this file to suppress warnings about itself. The --homedir permissions warning may
only be suppressed on the command line.
Suppress the warning about missing MDC integrity protection.
Refuse to run if GnuPG cannot get secure memory. Defaults to no (i.e. run, but give a warning).
When verifying a signature made from a subkey, ensure that the cross certification "back signature" on the subkey is present and
valid. This protects against a subtle attack against subkeys that can sign. Defaults to --require-cross-certification for gpg2.
Allow the user to do certain nonsensical or "silly" things like signing an expired or revoked key, or certain potentially incompati-
ble things like generating unusual key types. This also disables certain warning messages about potentially incompatible actions. As
the name implies, this option is for experts only. If you don't fully understand the implications of what it allows you to do, leave
this off. --no-expert disables this option.
Key related options
-r Encrypt for user id name. If this option or --hidden-recipient is not specified, GnuPG asks for the user-id unless --default-recipi-
ent is given.
-R Encrypt for user ID name, but hide the key ID of this user's key. This option helps to hide the receiver of the message and is a
limited countermeasure against traffic analysis. If this option or --recipient is not specified, GnuPG asks for the user ID unless
--default-recipient is given.
Same as --recipient but this one is intended for use in the options file and may be used with your own user-id as an "encrypt-to-
self". These keys are only used when there are other recipients given either by use of --recipient or by the asked user id. No
trust checking is performed for these user ids and even disabled keys can be used.
Same as --hidden-recipient but this one is intended for use in the options file and may be used with your own user-id as a hidden
"encrypt-to-self". These keys are only used when there are other recipients given either by use of --recipient or by the asked user
id. No trust checking is performed for these user ids and even disabled keys can be used.
Disable the use of all --encrypt-to and --hidden-encrypt-to keys.
Sets up a named group, which is similar to aliases in email programs. Any time the group name is a recipient (-r or --recipient),
it will be expanded to the values specified. Multiple groups with the same name are automatically merged into a single group.
The values are key IDs or fingerprints, but any key description is accepted. Note that a value with spaces in it will be treated as
two different values. Note also there is only one level of expansion --- you cannot make an group that points to another group. When
used from the command line, it may be necessary to quote the argument to this option to prevent the shell from treating it as multi-
Remove a given entry from the --group list.
Remove all entries from the --group list.
-u Use name as the key to sign with. Note that this option overrides --default-key.
For hidden recipients GPG needs to know the keys to use for trial decryption. The key set with --default-key is always tried first,
but this is often not sufficient. This option allows to set more keys to be used for trial decryption. Although any valid user-id
specification may be used for name it makes sense to use at least the long keyid to avoid ambiguities. Note that gpg-agent might
pop up a pinentry for a lot keys to do the trial decryption. If you want to stop all further trial decryption you may use close-
window button instead of the cancel button.
Don't look at the key ID as stored in the message but try all secret keys in turn to find the right decryption key. This option
forces the behaviour as used by anonymous recipients (created by using --throw-keyids or --hidden-recipient) and might come handy in
case where an encrypted message contains a bogus key ID.
During decryption skip all anonymous recipients. This option helps in the case that people use the hidden recipients feature to
hide there own encrypt-to key from others. If oneself has many secret keys this may lead to a major annoyance because all keys are
tried in turn to decrypt soemthing which was not really intended for it. The drawback of this option is that it is currently not
possible to decrypt a message which includes real anonymous recipients.
Input and Output
-a Create ASCII armored output. The default is to create the binary OpenPGP format.
Assume the input data is not in ASCII armored format.
Write output to file.
This option sets a limit on the number of bytes that will be generated when processing a file. Since OpenPGP supports various levels
of compression, it is possible that the plaintext of a given message may be significantly larger than the original OpenPGP message.
While GnuPG works properly with such messages, there is often a desire to set a maximum file size that will be generated before pro-
cessing is forced to stop by the OS limits. Defaults to 0, which means "no limit".
This is a space or comma delimited string that gives options for importing keys. Options can be prepended with a `no-' to give the
opposite meaning. The options are:
Allow importing key signatures marked as "local". This is not generally useful unless a shared keyring scheme is being used.
Defaults to no.
During import, attempt to repair the damage caused by the PKS keyserver bug (pre version 0.9.6) that mangles keys with multi-
ple subkeys. Note that this cannot completely repair the damaged key as some crucial data is removed by the keyserver, but it
does at least give you back one subkey. Defaults to no for regular --import and to yes for keyserver --recv-keys.
During import, allow key updates to existing keys, but do not allow any new keys to be imported. Defaults to no.
After import, compact (remove all signatures except the self-signature) any user IDs from the new key that are not usable.
Then, remove any signatures from the new key that are not usable. This includes signatures that were issued by keys that are
not present on the keyring. This option is the same as running the --edit-key command "clean" after import. Defaults to no.
Import the smallest key possible. This removes all signatures except the most recent self-signature on each user ID. This
option is the same as running the --edit-key command "minimize" after import. Defaults to no.
This is a space or comma delimited string that gives options for exporting keys. Options can be prepended with a `no-' to give the
opposite meaning. The options are:
Allow exporting key signatures marked as "local". This is not generally useful unless a shared keyring scheme is being used.
Defaults to no.
Include attribute user IDs (photo IDs) while exporting. This is useful to export keys if they are going to be used by an
OpenPGP program that does not accept attribute user IDs. Defaults to yes.
Include designated revoker information that was marked as "sensitive". Defaults to no.
When using the --export-secret-subkeys command, this option resets the passphrases for all exported subkeys to empty. This is
useful when the exported subkey is to be used on an unattended machine where a passphrase doesn't necessarily make sense.
Defaults to no.
Compact (remove all signatures from) user IDs on the key being exported if the user IDs are not usable. Also, do not export
any signatures that are not usable. This includes signatures that were issued by keys that are not present on the keyring.
This option is the same as running the --edit-key command "clean" before export except that the local copy of the key is not
modified. Defaults to no.
Export the smallest key possible. This removes all signatures except the most recent self-signature on each user ID. This
option is the same as running the --edit-key command "minimize" before export except that the local copy of the key is not
modified. Defaults to no.
Print key listings delimited by colons. Note that the output will be encoded in UTF-8 regardless of any --display-charset setting.
This format is useful when GnuPG is called from scripts and other programs as it is easily machine parsed. The details of this for-
mat are documented in the file 'doc/DETAILS', which is included in the GnuPG source distribution.
Do not merge primary user ID and primary key in --with-colon listing mode and print all timestamps as seconds since 1970-01-01.
Since GnuPG 2.0.10, this mode is always used and thus this option is obsolete; it does not harm to use it though.
Same as the command --fingerprint but changes only the format of the output and may be used together with another command.
Include the keygrip in the key listings.
OpenPGP protocol specific options.
Treat input files as text and store them in the OpenPGP canonical text form with standard "CRLF" line endings. This also sets the
necessary flags to inform the recipient that the encrypted or signed data is text and may need its line endings converted back to
whatever the local system uses. This option is useful when communicating between two platforms that have different line ending con-
ventions (UNIX-like to Mac, Mac to Windows, etc). --no-textmode disables this option, and is the default.
OpenPGP states that an implementation should generate v4 signatures but PGP versions 5 through 7 only recognize v4 signatures on key
material. This option forces v3 signatures for signatures on data. Note that this option implies --no-ask-sig-expire, and unsets
--sig-policy-url, --sig-notation, and --sig-keyserver-url, as these features cannot be used with v3 signatures. --no-force-v3-sigs
disables this option. Defaults to no.
Always use v4 key signatures even on v3 keys. This option also changes the default hash algorithm for v3 RSA keys from MD5 to SHA-1.
--no-force-v4-certs disables this option.
Force the use of encryption with a modification detection code. This is always used with the newer ciphers (those with a blocksize
greater than 64 bits), or if all of the recipient keys indicate MDC support in their feature flags.
Disable the use of the modification detection code. Note that by using this option, the encrypted message becomes vulnerable to a
message modification attack.
Set the list of personal cipher preferences to string. Use gpg2 --version to get a list of available algorithms, and use none to
set no preference at all. This allows the user to safely override the algorithm chosen by the recipient key preferences, as GPG
will only select an algorithm that is usable by all recipients. The most highly ranked cipher in this list is also used for the
--symmetric encryption command.
Set the list of personal digest preferences to string. Use gpg2 --version to get a list of available algorithms, and use none to
set no preference at all. This allows the user to safely override the algorithm chosen by the recipient key preferences, as GPG
will only select an algorithm that is usable by all recipients. The most highly ranked digest algorithm in this list is also used
when signing without encryption (e.g. --clearsign or --sign).
Set the list of personal compression preferences to string. Use gpg2 --version to get a list of available algorithms, and use none
to set no preference at all. This allows the user to safely override the algorithm chosen by the recipient key preferences, as GPG
will only select an algorithm that is usable by all recipients. The most highly ranked compression algorithm in this list is also
used when there are no recipient keys to consider (e.g. --symmetric).
Use name as the cipher algorithm used to protect secret keys. The default cipher is CAST5. This cipher is also used for conven-
tional encryption if --personal-cipher-preferences and --cipher-algo is not given.
Use name as the digest algorithm used to mangle the passphrases. The default algorithm is SHA-1.
Selects how passphrases are mangled. If n is 0 a plain passphrase (which is not recommended) will be used, a 1 adds a salt to the
passphrase and a 3 (the default) iterates the whole process a number of times (see --s2k-count). Unless --rfc1991 is used, this
mode is also used for conventional encryption.
Specify how many times the passphrase mangling is repeated. This value may range between 1024 and 65011712 inclusive. The default
is inquired from gpg-agent. Note that not all values in the 1024-65011712 range are legal and if an illegal value is selected,
GnuPG will round up to the nearest legal value. This option is only meaningful if --s2k-mode is 3.
These options control what GnuPG is compliant to. Only one of these options may be active at a time. Note that the default setting of this
is nearly always the correct one. See the INTEROPERABILITY WITH OTHER OPENPGP PROGRAMS section below before using one of these options.
Use standard GnuPG behavior. This is essentially OpenPGP behavior (see --openpgp), but with some additional workarounds for common
compatibility problems in different versions of PGP. This is the default option, so it is not generally needed, but it may be useful
to override a different compliance option in the gpg.conf file.
Reset all packet, cipher and digest options to strict OpenPGP behavior. Use this option to reset all previous options like --s2k-*,
--cipher-algo, --digest-algo and --compress-algo to OpenPGP compliant values. All PGP workarounds are disabled.
Reset all packet, cipher and digest options to strict RFC-4880 behavior. Note that this is currently the same thing as --openpgp.
Reset all packet, cipher and digest options to strict RFC-2440 behavior.
Try to be more RFC-1991 (PGP 2.x) compliant.
--pgp2 Set up all options to be as PGP 2.x compliant as possible, and warn if an action is taken (e.g. encrypting to a non-RSA key) that
will create a message that PGP 2.x will not be able to handle. Note that `PGP 2.x' here means `MIT PGP 2.6.2'. There are other ver-
sions of PGP 2.x available, but the MIT release is a good common baseline.
This option implies --rfc1991 --disable-mdc --no-force-v4-certs --escape-from-lines --force-v3-sigs --cipher-algo IDEA --digest-algo
MD5 --compress-algo ZIP. It also disables --textmode when encrypting.
--pgp6 Set up all options to be as PGP 6 compliant as possible. This restricts you to the ciphers IDEA (if the IDEA plugin is installed),
3DES, and CAST5, the hashes MD5, SHA1 and RIPEMD160, and the compression algorithms none and ZIP. This also disables --throw-keyids,
and making signatures with signing subkeys as PGP 6 does not understand signatures made by signing subkeys.
This option implies --disable-mdc --escape-from-lines --force-v3-sigs.
--pgp7 Set up all options to be as PGP 7 compliant as possible. This is identical to --pgp6 except that MDCs are not disabled, and the list
of allowable ciphers is expanded to add AES128, AES192, AES256, and TWOFISH.
--pgp8 Set up all options to be as PGP 8 compliant as possible. PGP 8 is a lot closer to the OpenPGP standard than previous versions of
PGP, so all this does is disable --throw-keyids and set --escape-from-lines. All algorithms are allowed except for the SHA224,
SHA384, and SHA512 digests.
Doing things one usually doesn't want to do.
Don't make any changes (this is not completely implemented).
Changes the behaviour of some commands. This is like --dry-run but different in some cases. The semantic of this command may be
extended in the future. Currently it only skips the actual decryption pass and therefore enables a fast listing of the encryption
Prompt before overwriting any files.
Select the debug level for investigating problems. level may be a numeric value or by a keyword:
none No debugging at all. A value of less than 1 may be used instead of the keyword.
basic Some basic debug messages. A value between 1 and 2 may be used instead of the keyword.
More verbose debug messages. A value between 3 and 5 may be used instead of the keyword.
expert Even more detailed messages. A value between 6 and 8 may be used instead of the keyword.
guru All of the debug messages you can get. A value greater than 8 may be used instead of the keyword. The creation of hash trac-
ing files is only enabled if the keyword is used.
How these messages are mapped to the actual debugging flags is not specified and may change with newer releases of this program. They are
however carefully selected to best aid in debugging.
Set debugging flags. All flags are or-ed and flags may be given in C syntax (e.g. 0x0042).
Set all useful debugging flags.
This option is only useful for testing; it sets the system time back or forth to epoch which is the number of seconds elapsed since
the year 1970. Alternatively epoch may be given as a full ISO time string (e.g. "20070924T154812").
Enable certain PROGRESS status outputs. This option allows frontends to display a progress indicator while gpg is processing larger
files. There is a slight performance overhead using it.
Write special status strings to the file descriptor n. See the file DETAILS in the documentation for a listing of them.
Same as --status-fd, except the status data is written to file file.
Write log output to file descriptor n and not to STDERR.
Same as --logger-fd, except the logger data is written to file file. Note that --log-file is only implemented for GnuPG-2.
Write attribute subpackets to the file descriptor n. This is most useful for use with --status-fd, since the status messages are
needed to separate out the various subpackets from the stream delivered to the file descriptor.
Same as --attribute-fd, except the attribute data is written to file file.
Use string as a comment string in clear text signatures and ASCII armored messages or keys (see --armor). The default behavior is
not to use a comment string. --comment may be repeated multiple times to get multiple comment strings. --no-comments removes all
comments. It is a good idea to keep the length of a single comment below 60 characters to avoid problems with mail programs wrap-
ping such lines. Note that comment lines, like all other header lines, are not protected by the signature.
Force inclusion of the version string in ASCII armored output. --no-emit-version disables this option.
-N, --set-notation name=value
Put the name value pair into the signature as notation data. name must consist only of printable characters or spaces, and must
contain a '@' character in the form firstname.lastname@example.org (substituting the appropriate keyname and domain name, of course).
This is to help prevent pollution of the IETF reserved notation namespace. The --expert flag overrides the '@' check. value may be
any printable string; it will be encoded in UTF8, so you should check that your --display-charset is set correctly. If you prefix
name with an exclamation mark (!), the notation data will be flagged as critical (rfc2440:18.104.22.168). --sig-notation sets a notation
for data signatures. --cert-notation sets a notation for key signatures (certifications). --set-notation sets both.
There are special codes that may be used in notation names. "%k" will be expanded into the key ID of the key being signed, "%K" into
the long key ID of the key being signed, "%f" into the fingerprint of the key being signed, "%s" into the key ID of the key making
the signature, "%S" into the long key ID of the key making the signature, "%g" into the fingerprint of the key making the signature
(which might be a subkey), "%p" into the fingerprint of the primary key of the key making the signature, "%c" into the signature
count from the OpenPGP smartcard, and "%%" results in a single "%". %k, %K, and %f are only meaningful when making a key signature
(certification), and %c is only meaningful when using the OpenPGP smartcard.
Use string as a Policy URL for signatures (rfc2440:22.214.171.124). If you prefix it with an exclamation mark (!), the policy URL packet
will be flagged as critical. --sig-policy-url sets a policy url for data signatures. --cert-policy-url sets a policy url for key
signatures (certifications). --set-policy-url sets both.
The same %-expandos used for notation data are available here as well.
Use string as a preferred keyserver URL for data signatures. If you prefix it with an exclamation mark (!), the keyserver URL packet
will be flagged as critical.
The same %-expandos used for notation data are available here as well.
Use string as the filename which is stored inside messages. This overrides the default, which is to use the actual filename of the
file being encrypted.
Set the `for your eyes only' flag in the message. This causes GnuPG to refuse to save the file unless the --output option is given,
and PGP to use a "secure viewer" with a claimed Tempest-resistant font to display the message. This option overrides --set-filename.
--no-for-your-eyes-only disables this option.
Try to create a file with a name as embedded in the data. This can be a dangerous option as it allows to overwrite files. Defaults
Use name as cipher algorithm. Running the program with the command --version yields a list of supported algorithms. If this is not
used the cipher algorithm is selected from the preferences stored with the key. In general, you do not want to use this option as it
allows you to violate the OpenPGP standard. --personal-cipher-preferences is the safe way to accomplish the same thing.
Use name as the message digest algorithm. Running the program with the command --version yields a list of supported algorithms. In
general, you do not want to use this option as it allows you to violate the OpenPGP standard. --personal-digest-preferences is the
safe way to accomplish the same thing.
Use compression algorithm name. "zlib" is RFC-1950 ZLIB compression. "zip" is RFC-1951 ZIP compression which is used by PGP.
"bzip2" is a more modern compression scheme that can compress some things better than zip or zlib, but at the cost of more memory
used during compression and decompression. "uncompressed" or "none" disables compression. If this option is not used, the default
behavior is to examine the recipient key preferences to see which algorithms the recipient supports. If all else fails, ZIP is used
for maximum compatibility.
ZLIB may give better compression results than ZIP, as the compression window size is not limited to 8k. BZIP2 may give even better
compression results than that, but will use a significantly larger amount of memory while compressing and decompressing. This may be
significant in low memory situations. Note, however, that PGP (all versions) only supports ZIP compression. Using any algorithm
other than ZIP or "none" will make the message unreadable with PGP. In general, you do not want to use this option as it allows you
to violate the OpenPGP standard. --personal-compress-preferences is the safe way to accomplish the same thing.
Use name as the message digest algorithm used when signing a key. Running the program with the command --version yields a list of
supported algorithms. Be aware that if you choose an algorithm that GnuPG supports but other OpenPGP implementations do not, then
some users will not be able to use the key signatures you make, or quite possibly your entire key.
Never allow the use of name as cipher algorithm. The given name will not be checked so that a later loaded algorithm will still get
Never allow the use of name as public key algorithm. The given name will not be checked so that a later loaded algorithm will still
Do not put the recipient key IDs into encrypted messages. This helps to hide the receivers of the message and is a limited counter-
measure against traffic analysis. ([Using a little social engineering anyone who is able to decrypt the message can check whether
one of the other recipients is the one he suspects.]) On the receiving side, it may slow down the decryption process because all
available secret keys must be tried. --no-throw-keyids disables this option. This option is essentially the same as using --hidden-
recipient for all recipients.
This option changes the behavior of cleartext signatures so that they can be used for patch files. You should not send such an
armored file via email because all spaces and line endings are hashed too. You can not use this option for data which has 5 dashes
at the beginning of a line, patch files don't have this. A special armor header line tells GnuPG about this cleartext signature
Because some mailers change lines starting with "From " to ">From " it is good to handle such lines in a special way when creating
cleartext signatures to prevent the mail system from breaking the signature. Note that all other PGP versions do it this way too.
Enabled by default. --no-escape-from-lines disables this option.
Specify how many times gpg2 will request a new passphrase be repeated. This is useful for helping memorize a passphrase. Defaults
to 1 repetition.
Read the passphrase from file descriptor n. Only the first line will be read from file descriptor n. If you use 0 for n, the
passphrase will be read from STDIN. This can only be used if only one passphrase is supplied. Note that this passphrase is only
used if the option --batch has also been given. This is different from gpg.
Read the passphrase from file file. Only the first line will be read from file file. This can only be used if only one passphrase is
supplied. Obviously, a passphrase stored in a file is of questionable security if other users can read this file. Don't use this
option if you can avoid it. Note that this passphrase is only used if the option --batch has also been given. This is different
Use string as the passphrase. This can only be used if only one passphrase is supplied. Obviously, this is of very questionable
security on a multi-user system. Don't use this option if you can avoid it. Note that this passphrase is only used if the option
--batch has also been given. This is different from gpg.
This is a replacement for the deprecated shared-memory IPC mode. If this option is enabled, user input on questions is not expected
from the TTY but from the given file descriptor. It should be used together with --status-fd. See the file doc/DETAILS in the source
distribution for details on how to use it.
Same as --command-fd, except the commands are read out of file file
Allow the import and use of keys with user IDs which are not self-signed. This is not recommended, as a non self-signed user ID is
trivial to forge. --no-allow-non-selfsigned-uid disables.
Disable all checks on the form of the user ID while generating a new one. This option should only be used in very special environ-
ments as it does not ensure the de-facto standard format of user IDs.
GnuPG normally checks that the timestamps associated with keys and signatures have plausible values. However, sometimes a signature
seems to be older than the key due to clock problems. This option makes these checks just a warning. See also --ignore-valid-from
for timestamp issues on subkeys.
GnuPG normally does not select and use subkeys created in the future. This option allows the use of such keys and thus exhibits the
pre-1.0.7 behaviour. You should not use this option unless there is some clock problem. See also --ignore-time-conflict for time-
stamp issues with signatures.
The ASCII armor used by OpenPGP is protected by a CRC checksum against transmission errors. Occasionally the CRC gets mangled some-
where on the transmission channel but the actual content (which is protected by the OpenPGP protocol anyway) is still okay. This
option allows GnuPG to ignore CRC errors.
This option changes a MDC integrity protection failure into a warning. This can be useful if a message is partially corrupt, but it
is necessary to get as much data as possible out of the corrupt message. However, be aware that a MDC protection failure may also
mean that the message was tampered with intentionally by an attacker.
Do not add the default keyrings to the list of keyrings. Note that GnuPG will not operate without any keyrings, so if you use this
option and do not provide alternate keyrings via --keyring or --secret-keyring, then GnuPG will still use the default public or
Skip the signature verification step. This may be used to make the decryption faster if the signature verification is not needed.
Print key listings delimited by colons (like --with-colons) and print the public key data.
Changes the output of the list commands to work faster; this is achieved by leaving some parts empty. Some applications don't need
the user ID and the trust information given in the listings. By using this options they can get a faster listing. The exact behav-
iour of this option may change in future versions. If you are missing some information, don't use this option.
This is not for normal use. Use the source to see for what it might be useful.
This is not for normal use. Use the source to see for what it might be useful.
Display the session key used for one message. See --override-session-key for the counterpart of this option.
We think that Key Escrow is a Bad Thing; however the user should have the freedom to decide whether to go to prison or to reveal the
content of one specific message without compromising all messages ever encrypted for one secret key. DON'T USE IT UNLESS YOU ARE
REALLY FORCED TO DO SO.
Don't use the public key but the session key string. The format of this string is the same as the one printed by --show-session-key.
This option is normally not used but comes handy in case someone forces you to reveal the content of an encrypted message; using
this option you can do this without handing out the secret key.
When making a data signature, prompt for an expiration time. If this option is not specified, the expiration time set via --default-
sig-expire is used. --no-ask-sig-expire disables this option.
The default expiration time to use for signature expiration. Valid values are "0" for no expiration, a number followed by the letter
d (for days), w (for weeks), m (for months), or y (for years) (for example "2m" for two months, or "5y" for five years), or an abso-
lute date in the form YYYY-MM-DD. Defaults to "0".
When making a key signature, prompt for an expiration time. If this option is not specified, the expiration time set via --default-
cert-expire is used. --no-ask-cert-expire disables this option.
The default expiration time to use for key signature expiration. Valid values are "0" for no expiration, a number followed by the
letter d (for days), w (for weeks), m (for months), or y (for years) (for example "2m" for two months, or "5y" for five years), or
an absolute date in the form YYYY-MM-DD. Defaults to "0".
This is an obsolete option and is not used anywhere.
Allow processing of multiple OpenPGP messages contained in a single file or stream. Some programs that call GPG are not prepared to
deal with multiple messages being processed together, so this option defaults to no. Note that versions of GPG prior to 1.4.7
always allowed multiple messages.
Warning: Do not use this option unless you need it as a temporary workaround!
This options enables a mode in which filenames of the form '-&n', where n is a non-negative decimal number, refer to the file
descriptor n and not to a file with that name.
Experimental use only.
Don't change the permissions of a secret keyring back to user read/write only. Use this option only if you really know what you are
Set the list of default preferences to string. This preference list is used for new keys and becomes the default for "setpref" in
the edit menu.
Set the default keyserver URL to name. This keyserver will be used as the keyserver URL when writing a new self-signature on a key,
which includes key generation and changing preferences.
Display various internal configuration parameters of GnuPG. This option is intended for external programs that call GnuPG to perform
tasks, and is thus not generally useful. See the file 'doc/DETAILS' in the source distribution for the details of which configura-
tion items may be listed. --list-config is only usable with --with-colons set.
This command is similar to --list-config but in general only internally used by the gpgconf tool.
This is more or less dummy action. However it parses the configuration file and returns with failure if the configuration file
would prevent gpg from startup. Thus it may be used to run a syntax check on the configuration file.
Causes --list-keys, --list-sigs, --list-public-keys, --list-secret-keys, and verifying a signature to also display the photo ID
attached to the key, if any. See also --photo-viewer. These options are deprecated. Use --list-options [no-]show-photos and/or
--verify-options [no-]show-photos instead.
Display the keyring name at the head of key listings to show which keyring a given key resides on. This option is deprecated: use
--list-options [no-]show-keyring instead.
Identical to --trust-model always. This option is deprecated.
Show signature notations in the --list-sigs or --check-sigs listings as well as when verifying a signature with a notation in it.
These options are deprecated. Use --list-options [no-]show-notation and/or --verify-options [no-]show-notation instead.
Show policy URLs in the --list-sigs or --check-sigs listings as well as when verifying a signature with a policy URL in it. These
options are deprecated. Use --list-options [no-]show-policy-url and/or --verify-options [no-]show-policy-url instead.
gpg -se -r Bob file
sign and encrypt for user Bob
gpg --clearsign file
make a clear text signature
gpg -sb file
make a detached signature
gpg -u 0x12345678 -sb file
make a detached signature with the key 0x12345678
gpg --list-keys user_ID
gpg --fingerprint user_ID
gpg --verify pgpfile
gpg --verify sigfile
Verify the signature of the file but do not output the data. The second form is used for detached signatures, where sigfile is the
detached signature (either ASCII armored or binary) and are the signed data; if this is not given, the name of the file holding the
signed data is constructed by cutting off the extension (".asc" or ".sig") of sigfile or by asking the user for the filename.
HOW TO SPECIFY A USER ID
There are different ways to specify a user ID to GnuPG. Some of them are only valid for gpg others are only good for gpgsm. Here is the
entire list of ways to specify a key:
By key Id.
This format is deduced from the length of the string and its content or 0x prefix. The key Id of an X.509 certificate are the low 64
bits of its SHA-1 fingerprint. The use of key Ids is just a shortcut, for all automated processing the fingerprint should be used.
When using gpg an exclamation mark (!) may be appended to force using the specified primary or secondary key and not to try and cal-
culate which primary or secondary key to use.
The last four lines of the example give the key ID in their long form as internally used by the OpenPGP protocol. You can see the
long key ID using the option --with-colons.
This format is deduced from the length of the string and its content or the 0x prefix. Note, that only the 20 byte version finger-
print is available with gpgsm (i.e. the SHA-1 hash of the certificate).
When using gpg an exclamation mark (!) may be appended to force using the specified primary or secondary key and not to try and cal-
culate which primary or secondary key to use.
The best way to specify a key Id is by using the fingerprint. This avoids any ambiguities in case that there are duplicated key
(gpgsm also accepts colons between each pair of hexadecimal digits because this is the de-facto standard on how to present X.509 finger-
By exact match on OpenPGP user ID.
This is denoted by a leading equal sign. It does not make sense for X.509 certificates.
=Heinrich Heine <email@example.com>
By exact match on an email address.
This is indicated by enclosing the email address in the usual way with left and right angles.
By word match.
All words must match exactly (not case sensitive) but can appear in any order in the user ID or a subjects name. Words are any
sequences of letters, digits, the underscore and all characters with bit 7 set.
+Heinrich Heine duesseldorf
By exact match on the subject's DN.
This is indicated by a leading slash, directly followed by the RFC-2253 encoded DN of the subject. Note that you can't use the
string printed by "gpgsm --list-keys" because that one as been reordered and modified for better readability; use --with-colons to
print the raw (but standard escaped) RFC-2253 string
By exact match on the issuer's DN.
This is indicated by a leading hash mark, directly followed by a slash and then directly followed by the rfc2253 encoded DN of the
issuer. This should return the Root cert of the issuer. See note above.
By exact match on serial number and issuer's DN.
This is indicated by a hash mark, followed by the hexadecimal representation of the serial number, then followed by a slash and the
RFC-2253 encoded DN of the issuer. See note above.
This is indicated by an ampersand followed by the 40 hex digits of a keygrip. gpgsm prints the keygrip when using the command
--dump-cert. It does not yet work for OpenPGP keys.
By substring match.
This is the default mode but applications may want to explicitly indicate this by putting the asterisk in front. Match is not case
Please note that we have reused the hash mark identifier which was used in old GnuPG versions to indicate the so called local-id. It is
not anymore used and there should be no conflict when used with X.509 stuff.
Using the RFC-2253 format of DNs has the drawback that it is not possible to map them back to the original encoding, however we don't have
to do this because our key database stores this encoding as meta data.
There are a few configuration files to control certain aspects of gpg2's operation. Unless noted, they are expected in the current home
directory (see: [option --homedir]).
This is the standard configuration file read by gpg2 on startup. It may contain any valid long option; the leading two dashes may
not be entered and the option may not be abbreviated. This default name may be changed on the command line (see: [option
--options]). You should backup this file.
Note that on larger installations, it is useful to put predefined files into the directory '/etc/skel/.gnupg/' so that newly created users
start up with a working configuration. For existing users the a small helper script is provided to create these files (see:
For internal purposes gpg2 creates and maintains a few other files; They all live in in the current home directory (see: [option --home-
dir]). Only the gpg2 may modify these files.
The secret keyring. You should backup this file.
The lock file for the secret keyring.
The public keyring. You should backup this file.
The lock file for the public keyring.
The trust database. There is no need to backup this file; it is better to backup the ownertrust values (see: [option --export-own-
The lock file for the trust database.
A file used to preserve the state of the internal random pool.
The skeleton options file.
Default location for extensions.
Operation is further controlled by a few environment variables:
HOME Used to locate the default home directory.
If set directory used instead of "~/.gnupg".
Used to locate the gpg-agent. The value consists of 3 colon delimited fields: The first is the path to the Unix Domain Socket, the
second the PID of the gpg-agent and the protocol version which should be set to 1. When starting the gpg-agent as described in its
documentation, this variable is set to the correct value. The option --gpg-agent-info can be used to override it.
This value is passed via gpg-agent to pinentry. It is useful to convey extra information to a custom pinentry.
LINES Used to size some displays to the full size of the screen.
Apart from its use by GNU, it is used in the W32 version to override the language selection done through the Registry. If used and
set to a valid and available language name (langid), the file with the translation is loaded from
gpgdir/gnupg.nls/langid.mo. Here gpgdir is the directory out of which the gpg binary has been loaded. If it can't be loaded the
Registry is tried and as last resort the native Windows locale system is used.
On older systems this program should be installed as setuid(root). This is necessary to lock memory pages. Locking memory pages prevents
the operating system from writing memory pages (which may contain passphrases or other sensitive material) to disk. If you get no warning
message about insecure memory your operating system supports locking without being root. The program drops root privileges as soon as
locked memory is allocated.
Note also that some systems (especially laptops) have the ability to ``suspend to disk'' (also known as ``safe sleep'' or ``hibernate'').
This writes all memory to disk before going into a low power or even powered off mode. Unless measures are taken in the operating system
to protect the saved memory, passphrases or other sensitive material may be recoverable from it later.
Before you report a bug you should first search the mailing list archives for similar problems and second check whether such a bug has
already been reported to our bug tracker at http://bugs.gnupg.org .
gpgv(1), gpgsm(1), gpg-agent(1)
The full documentation for this tool is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If GnuPG and the info program are properly installed at your site,
should give you access to the complete manual including a menu structure and an index.
GnuPG 2.0.19 2014-06-26 GPG2(1)