I'm ssh into a remote host (linux, fedora) and I want to do ssh operation(git with bitbucket) there. There is ssh-agent running on that machine,

$ ps -e|grep sh-agent
 2203 ?        00:00:00 ssh-agent

but when I want to git, it requires me to enter the passphrase

$ git pull
Enter passphrase for key '/user/wgong/home/.ssh/id_rsa': 

Note: if I operate on that machine locally, it won't ask me to enter the passphrase

  • 3
    I haven't used it but there's a command ssh-add that I think is used for that kind of thing
    – barlop
    Oct 18, 2015 at 3:38

9 Answers 9


In my opinion the best way of using ssh

Before using Git add your key to ssh-agent

Start ssh-agent if not started:

$ eval `ssh-agent -s`

Add your private key using ssh-add

$ ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa_key  
Enter passphrase for /home/user/.ssh/id_rsa_key:  
Identity added: /home/user/.ssh/id_rsa_key   

Check if the key is added (parameter is a lowercase L):

$ ssh-add -l  
2048 55:96:1a:b1:31:f6:f0:6f:d8:a7:49:1a:e5:4c:94:6f  
/home/user/.ssh/id_rsa_key (RSA)

Try to connect to your Git server:

$ ssh git.example.com

Now you can use Git without extra passphrase prompts.

Other ways


  • 1
    but I have used Git add your key to ssh-agent, then how to do? thanks
    – lily
    Oct 23, 2015 at 1:41
  • 1
    @lily Sorry, I don't understand your question.
    – Roman
    Oct 23, 2015 at 8:31
  • 2
    This is the solution that worked for me.
    – Skatox
    Sep 23, 2016 at 4:34
  • 13
    How do I make this persistent? Simply put it into .bashrc?
    – oarfish
    Oct 14, 2017 at 8:08
  • 3
    FYI, the eval is needed because it outputs commands that export environment variables like SSH_AUTH_SOCK that are needed. unix.stackexchange.com/questions/351725/…
    – wisbucky
    May 24, 2019 at 20:10

If you already have ssh-agent running then you can add the key, and you'll have to enter the passphrase once, and once only for that session.

ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

You don't say what OS you're using, but if it happens to be Linux & Gnome then the "Passwords and Keys" application (CLI name: seahorse) can manage these so they are unlocked when you log in (no passphrase required). Other Linux desktop environments have their own managers. I'm not sure what other OS do here.

  • life saver, how to make a shortcut to your answer... Aug 19, 2022 at 5:46
  • Great answer, though it would be best if you said how to start the ssh-agent too. Nov 9, 2022 at 20:15

You can easily remove passphrase of your key by using the following command

ssh-keygen -p

On the first prompt, enter the file path (or press Enter to use the default)
Second prompt, enter the old passphrase
Next prompt, just press enter to unset the passphrase

Looks like this is the easiest way!

  • 5
    This is definitely the easiest way. That'll teach me to follow Raspberry Pi 'how to' pages without thinking it through...
    – Grim
    Jul 10, 2020 at 8:02

The main reason for passphrase asking is that your key is encrypted, compare these two:

  • not encrypted

    $ head ~/.ssh/id_rsa 
    -----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----            
  • encrypted

    $ head ~/.ssh/id_rsa 
    -----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----    
    Proc-Type: 4,ENCRYPTED
    DEK-Info: AES-128-CBC,A95215C9E9FE00B8D73C58BE005DAD82

So you have to do one of the following:

  1. If it's encrypted you can try to remove the encryption.
  2. You're using wrong key. If you'd like to use different key, specify other file or edit your ~/.ssh/config and specify different identity file (IdentityFile).
  3. Run ssh-add -l to list all your identities (then compare with your local) and double check with Stash if you're using the right keys (they exists on Stash configuration).
  4. If you know passphrase and you want to automate it, try the following workaround:

    install -vm700 <(echo "echo $PS") $PWD/my_pass
    DISPLAY= SSH_ASKPASS=$PWD/my_pass ssh-add - && rm -v my_pass


  1. Double check your SSH agent is running (eval "$(ssh-agent -s)").
  2. Re-run git via: GIT_TRACE=1 git pull or with GIT_SSH_COMMAND="ssh -vv" (Git 2.3.0+) to debug your command again.
  3. You can try to bypass asking for the passphrase (which will redirect it into true), but I don't think it'll help. If it asks for it, there is a reason for that and it's basically required.

    DISPLAY= SSH_ASKPASS=/bin/true ssh-add

On Mac, add UseKeyChain to ~/.ssh/config

nano ~/.ssh/config

and add the following

Host *
    UseKeychain yes

The ssh-add program starts an agent which can hold (and provide) your passphrase. The way to use it remotely is in a parent of your interactive shell (so that the agent does not stop).

Here are a few related questions:

Now... connecting remotely, as a rule your command does not log in as such, so it does not start ssh-add. You could work around this, by executing a script which

  • starts ssh-agent
  • starts ssh-add
  • adds your key
  • runs the command that you want.

The weak point is the second step: you would still get prompted for the passphrase, unless you weaken your security by using a key that has no passphrase. Some people do this, most people advise against.

  • 1
    ssh-add does not start the agent. It connects to an already-running agent.
    – ams
    Oct 21, 2015 at 15:20
  • 1
    Thanks - I'm used to doing these in separate scripts, and overlooked the missing part. Oct 21, 2015 at 20:47

You will still get password prompt to decrypt private key even if it is loaded into ssh-agent until the corresponding SSH public key is added into remote ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.

To reproduce:

# We are about to ssh to localhost, therefore, unauthorized everyone.
$ rm ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

$ eval $(ssh-agent)
# Agent pid 9290

$ ssh-add
# Enter passphrase for /home/uvsmtid/.ssh/id_rsa: 
# Identity added: /home/uvsmtid/.ssh/id_rsa (/home/uvsmtid/.ssh/id_rsa)

$ ssh localhost
# Enter passphrase for key '/home/uvsmtid/.ssh/id_rsa':
# uvsmtid@localhost's password:
  # NOTE: See password prompt for private key
  #       (and only then prompt for remote login).
  #       Why? Isn't the private key is already loaded by `ssh-add`?

$ ssh-copy-id localhost
$ ssh localhost
  # NOTE: No password for private key anymore.
  #       The key is served by `ssh-agent`.

Confusing enough. Remote SSH login password would be enough in this case.

I can speculate that this prevents adding your public key (which is paired with encrypted private key) without knowing encryption password for corresponding private key. It is one-time-per-remote-login procedure anyway.


To get asked for a passphrase only once when SSH tries to use a key for the first time add this at the beginning of your ~/.ssh/config:

AddKeysToAgent yes

If you're still being asked more than once then check if you're not running multiple agents at once. To run only one ssh-agent per session add something like this to your RC file (e.g. ~/.bashrc):

if [ -S ~/.ssh/socket ]; then
    eval $(ssh-agent)
    ln -sf "$SSH_AUTH_SOCK" ~/.ssh/socket
export SSH_AUTH_SOCK=~/.ssh/socket
  • Simply the AddKeysToAgent was enough Feb 2 at 8:37
  • It usually is, at least in systems that already take care of spawning only one SSH agent, but I had to added that bit for folks with less automated distributions (see: Arch) who accidentally run more than one agent at the same time. I'll put the SSH config bit first.
    – cprn
    Feb 2 at 15:28

The following steps work for me on mac.

$ ssh-keygen -p
# Start the SSH key creation process
> Enter file in which the key is (/Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa): [Hit enter]
> Key has comment '/Users/you/.ssh/id_rsa'
> Enter new passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [Type new passphrase]
> Enter same passphrase again: [One more time for luck]
> Your identification has been saved with the new passphrase.

Details link is here

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