I want to save an SSH key passphrase in gnome-keyring and then use it automatically when I need it.

How to do this?

4 Answers 4


If gnome-keyring-daemon is already running, you can use ssh-add to add your key to the service:

ssh-add /path/to/private/key

For example:

ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

To save the passphrase, use seahorse-ssh-askpass from package seahorse:

cd $HOME/.ssh
/usr/lib/seahorse/seahorse-ssh-askpass my_key

Make sure that the public key is the filename of the private key plus .pub, in the example my_key.pub

To automatically use the key afterwards, see "Gnome Keyring dialog and SSH" and at first use, check "Automatically unlock this key whenever I'm logged in".

  • 6
    I used this command successfully with Ubuntu 10.04, it seems like it was not even required in Ubuntu 12.04, but with Ubuntu 14.04 I can't seem to be able to store my ssh key password. seahorse-ssh-askpass just prints the password I enter to stdout!!!
    – asoundmove
    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:52
  • 1
    @asoundmove: I had the same experience on 16.04. You can use the seahorse prompt utility via ssh-add, however: SSH_ASKPASS=/usr/lib/seahorse/seahorse-ssh-askpass ssh-add /path/to/private/key </dev/null. Redirecting standard input is required to force the use of SSH_ASKPASS (graphical prompt).
    – zackse
    Nov 12, 2018 at 22:26
  • seahorse-ssh-askpass is just ssh-askpass in my system. Arch Wiki
    – Marc.2377
    Nov 5, 2019 at 1:35
  • 2
    @zackse - In Ubuntu (19.10 at the moment) it is /usr/libexec/seahorse/ssh-askpass, but… yes, it adds the key to the agent and uses graphical prompt but this doesn't solve the problem. Next time I have to add the key again and enter the passphrase again…
    – silverdr
    Dec 10, 2019 at 13:27
  • The important part for me was to have the public and private key pair in the same place
    – smac89
    Jun 9, 2021 at 16:20

If you are using gnome-keyring-daemon but a ssh-agent that is not managed by the keyring, you can still manually store the passphrase in the keyring and use secret-tool (via apt install libsecret-tools) and an expect script (via apt install expect) when adding the key to your agent:

# Save passphrase to keyring via same format used by seahorse-ssh-askpass
# only required if entry does not already exist in the keyring
secret-tool store --label="Unlock password for: id_ed25519" unique "ssh-store:/home/$USER/.ssh/id_ed25519"

# Load key into ssh agent
PASS=$(secret-tool lookup unique ssh-store:$FILE)
/usr/bin/expect <(echo "
spawn ssh-add $FILE
expect \"Enter passphrase for $FILE\"
send -- \"$PASS\n\"
expect eof")

# Results should look like:
Enter passphrase for /home/username/.ssh/id_ed25519: 
Identity added: /home/username/.ssh/id_ed25519 ([email protected])

Make sure your private (e.g. mykey) and public (e.g. mykey.pub) key are stored in the ~/.ssh directory. Then it will be loaded automatically.

From Gnome Keyring docs (Automatically loading SSH Keys):

The SSH agent automatically loads files in ~/.ssh which have corresponding *.pub paired files. Additional SSH keys can be manually loaded and managed via the ssh-add command.

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