I've got a question that I've not been able to find an answer for. I have two computers, both of which run Ubuntu Linux 12.04. I have set up my first computer ("home") to be able to SSH into my second computer ("remote") using public/private RSA key authentication.

This is not the first SSH connection that have set up using key authentication on my home computer, so my home computer has several id_rsa private keyfiles (each of which is for a different computer to SSH into). Thus, I am able to successfully SSH only when I specify a keyfile (in ssh, the -i option), using ssh username@ipaddress -i path/to/keyfile/id_rsa.2.

That works great. However, I would also like to use sshfs, which mounts the remote filesystem. While ssh seems to play nice with multiple keys, I can't find a way to get sshfs to use the correct private key ("id_rsa.2").

Is there a way to get sshfs to do this?


4 Answers 4


Here's what works for me:

sshfs me@x.x.x.x:/remote/path /local/path/ -o IdentityFile=/path/to/key

You can figure this out via man sshfs:

-o SSHOPT=VAL ssh options (see man ssh_config)

man ssh_config


Specifies a file from which the user's DSA, ECDSA or DSA authentication identity is read.

  • 1
    This command does not work on macOS Sierra
    – basZero
    Dec 22, 2017 at 10:07
  • 3
    IdentityFile path note. If running sshfs with sudo, using ~ in the IdentityFile path refers to root's home, which may not be where the RSA file is. Use something like /Users/<username>/.ssh instead.
    – Aaron
    Jun 6, 2018 at 21:41
  • 4
    Caveats: IdentityFile= must be an absolute path not a relative path. I learned this today. Jul 13, 2020 at 1:02
  • @goldilocks Thanks for describing the way how did you figured it out. Reading man files is sometimes a bit tricky for me - I do not read them I just search them and this particular note was not matched by my search at all ;)
    – ino
    May 21, 2021 at 7:27
  • 1
    @ino You can use regular expressions in the man pager forward slash (/) search (actually the pager is less by default). They seem to be PCRE style too (the style used in most modern programming languages); man less just says "the regular expression library supplied by your system. I use ^\s+-x` a lot, which will find lines starting with some space then -x, so good for searching long lists of options. You can also use man -H to format it as html and send it to $BROWSER if available, sometimes easier to read.
    – goldilocks
    May 21, 2021 at 15:16

What you need to do is specify which private key to use in the ~/.ssh/config file. for example:

Host server1.nixcraft.com
    IdentityFile ~/backups/.ssh/id_dsa
Host server2.nixcraft.com
    IdentityFile /backup/home/userName/.ssh/id_rsa
  • 1
    Thanks so much! @Steven You, I didn't realize that sshfs reads .ssh/config files (though I do see now that I missed a similar answer from someone's previous post, at stackoverflow.com/a/13638806/1940466). That's excellent to know. For what it's worth, I would like to accept both your and @goldilocks' answers, but I'm not able to. I also don't have enough reputation to vote up your answer. I very much appreciate the answer, though!
    – J L
    Jan 17, 2013 at 4:08
sshfs -o ssh_command='ssh -i path/to/keyfile/id_rsa.2' username@ipaddress:/path /local/path
  • thanks this answer worked for me on Arch Linux for mounting android file system Jul 3, 2019 at 7:53

Adding to the solution proposed by @Steven You, a simple solution is :

  1. go to ~/.ssh/config
Host <nick name>
    HostName  <ipaddress>
    User <username>
    PubKeyAuthentication yes
    IdentityFile <path/to/keyfile/id_rsa.2>
  1. sshfs -p 22 <nick name>:source/file/on/server local/folder/

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