Create Ssh Key Mac Os

admin15 March 2024Last Update :

Create SSH Key on macOS

Welcome to this comprehensive guide on creating an SSH key on macOS. Secure Shell (SSH) keys are an essential tool for managing secure communication between devices. They are widely used by developers and system administrators to authenticate and encrypt connections. In this article, we will delve into the process of generating, managing, and deploying SSH keys on a Mac, ensuring your connections remain secure and streamlined.

Understanding SSH Keys

Before we dive into the creation process, it’s important to understand what SSH keys are and why they are used. SSH keys come in pairs, consisting of a private key that must be kept secure and a public key that can be shared. They are used for public key authentication, a more secure method than password-based authentication.

Prerequisites for Generating SSH Keys on macOS

To generate an SSH key on macOS, you need the following:

  • A Mac running macOS or OS X
  • Access to the Terminal application
  • Basic understanding of command-line tools

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an SSH Key on macOS

Step 1: Open the Terminal

Launch the Terminal application from your Applications folder, Spotlight search, or by using the Launchpad.

Step 2: Generate the SSH Key Pair

Use the ssh-keygen command to create a new SSH key pair. You can specify the type of key and additional options. For example, to create a 4096-bit RSA key, use the following command:

ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096

Follow the prompts to specify the file in which to save the key and set a passphrase for additional security.

Step 3: Store the SSH Keys Securely

By default, SSH keys are stored in the ~/.ssh directory. Ensure this directory’s permissions are set correctly to prevent unauthorized access:

chmod 700 ~/.ssh

Set the private key file’s permissions to be readable only by you:

chmod 600 ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Step 4: Copy the Public Key to the Server

Copy your public key to the server you wish to connect to. You can do this manually or use the ssh-copy-id script for convenience:

ssh-copy-id user@hostname

Replace user with your username and hostname with the server’s address.

Step 5: Connect to the Server Using Your SSH Key

Once the public key is on the server, you can connect without a password:

ssh user@hostname

If you set a passphrase, you will be prompted to enter it.

Best Practices for Managing SSH Keys

Here are some best practices for managing your SSH keys:

  • Use a strong passphrase for your private key.
  • Regularly rotate your keys and update them on servers.
  • Use an SSH agent to manage your keys and passphrases.
  • Never share your private key with anyone.

Advanced SSH Key Management

For advanced users, consider exploring SSH key agents, keychain integration, and automated deployment tools to streamline the SSH key management process.

FAQ Section

What is the difference between RSA and ECDSA keys?

RSA keys are traditional and widely supported, while ECDSA keys are newer and offer better performance at shorter key lengths.

How often should I change my SSH keys?

It’s recommended to rotate your SSH keys at least once a year or according to your organization’s security policy.

Can I use the same SSH key for multiple servers?

Yes, you can use the same public key on multiple servers, but for security reasons, it’s better to use unique keys for different services or environments.

What should I do if my private key is compromised?

If you suspect your private key is compromised, immediately revoke access by removing the public key from all servers and generate a new key pair.


Creating and managing SSH keys on macOS is a straightforward process that significantly enhances the security of your server connections. By following the steps outlined in this guide and adhering to best practices, you can ensure secure and efficient access to remote systems.

Remember, security is an ongoing process, and staying informed about best practices and potential vulnerabilities is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your systems.


For further reading and advanced topics on SSH key management, consider the following resources:

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