I had this issue as well when attempting to deploy some code using Capistrano. Very frustrating. Here are two methods I know of to deal with this issue.
Method 1: Add all known keys to the SSH agent.
So one solution I found is to run
ssh-add with the
-A option—which adds all known identities to the SSH agent using any passphrases stored in your keychain—like this:
Now this works but it won’t persist across reboots. So if you want to never worry about this again, just open up your user’s
~/.bash_profile file like this:
And add this line to the bottom:
ssh-add -A 2>/dev/null;
Now when you open a new Terminal window, all should be good!
Method 2: Add only SSH keys that are in the keychain to the agent.
So while the
ssh-add -A option should work for most basic cases, I ran into an issue recently where I had 6-7 Vagrant boxes (which uses SSH keys/identities for access) setup on a machine on top of the more common
id_rsa.pub in place.
Long story short, I ended up being locked out of a remote server due to too many failed tries based on SSH keys/identities since the server access was based on a password and SSH keys/identities are SSH keys/identities. So the SSH agent tried all of my SSH keys, failed and I couldn’t even get to the password prompt.
The problem is that
ssh-add -A will just arbitrarily add every single SSH key/identity you have to the agent even if it’s not necessary to do so; such as in the case of Vagrant boxes.
My solution after much testing was as follows.
First, if you have more SSH keys/identities added to your agent than you need—as shown with
ssh-add -l then purge them all from the agent like so:
With that done, then start the SSH agent as a background process like so:
eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"
Now, it gets weird and I am not too sure why. In some cases you can specifically add the
~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub key/identity to the agent like so:
Type in your passphrase, hit Return and you should be good to go.
But in other cases simply running this is enough to get the key/identity added:
If that’s all worked, type in
ssh-add -l and you should see one lone SSH key/identity listed.
All good? Now open up your
And add this line to the bottom; comment or remove the
-A version if you have that in place:
ssh-add -K 2>/dev/null;
That will allow the SSH key/identity to be reloaded to the SSH agent on each startup/reboot.
UPDATE: Apple has now added a
UseKeychain option to the open SSH config options and considers
ssh-add -A a solution as well.
As of macOS Sierra 10.12.2, Apple (I assume) has added a
UseKeychain config option for SSH configs. Checking the man page (via
man ssh_config) shows the following info:
On macOS, specifies whether the system should search for
passphrases in the user's keychain when attempting to use a par-
ticular key. When the passphrase is provided by the user, this
option also specifies whether the passphrase should be stored
into the keychain once it has been verified to be correct. The
argument must be ``yes'' or ``no''. The default is ``no''.
Which boils down to Apple seeing the solution as either adding
ssh-add -A to your
.bash_profile as explained in this Open Radar ticket or adding
UseKeychain as one of the options in a per user