I use GnuPG and, as it was mentioned in this answer, the mail address can be left out of a user ID when edited through the command line interface.

Is there any way - even if it means using a manual hack, a third-party tool or anything else - to remove/skip filling the "Real name" field?

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  • Do you want to remove the name from an existing key or create a new one without it? Technically, this is no problem at all: The PGP key format contains just a UID field which is not required to abide by any particular format (such as the usual "Real Name <email@address.tld>"). – yyyyyyy Aug 13 '17 at 18:04

OpenPGP user IDs as defined in OpenPGP 4880, OpenPGP, 5.11. User ID Packet (Tag 13) are formed by arbitrary strings, "Real Name (Comment) " is not more than a convention. Following the specifications, it even may be the empty string.

5.11. User ID Packet (Tag 13)

A User ID packet consists of UTF-8 text that is intended to represent the name and email address of the key holder. By convention, it includes an RFC 2822 [RFC2822] mail name-addr, but there are no restrictions on its content. The packet length in the header specifies the length of the User ID.

GnuPG (at least in version 2.1, which I used to verify this statement) does not enforce a name, either -- just omit any content. In fact, GnuPG actually seems to support empty-string user IDs!

gpg> adduid
Real name: 
Email address: mail@example.org
You selected this USER-ID:

Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit? 

Not all versions of GnuPG allow free-form user IDs by default and require --allow-freeform-uid. From man gpg:


Disable all checks on the form of the user ID while generating a new one. This option should only be used in very special environments as it does not ensure the de-facto standard format of user IDs.

  • Thank you. This indeed works in 2.1, my problem was that I was using GnuPG 2.0.35. That version (and I suspect most versions before) don't let the user pass without entering a minimum of 5 characters. (GUIs like GPA or Kleopatra don't allow skipping these, regardless of GnuPG version.) To tie in to @yyyyyyy's comment: I couldn't create a key with such a fully emtpy uid, but I could add it to a key which already had a uid and then delete the old one (deluid). – Sutarbi Dudek Aug 14 '17 at 22:06
  • You're right, I can verify this at least using GnuPG 1.4 and did not find a way around this. I guess using GnuPG 2.1 should work out as a solution in most cases. – Jens Erat Aug 17 '17 at 19:41
  • @SutarbiDudek: Have a look at --allow-freeform-uid which allowed non-, also listed in GnuPG's manpage. I added some notes in the answer. – Jens Erat Sep 9 '17 at 19:23

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