Git is a distributed version control system, which means you can work locally but you can also share or "push" your changes to other servers. Before you can push your changes to a GitLab server you need a secure communication channel for sharing information. GitLab uses Public-key or asymmetric cryptography which encrypts a communication channel by locking it with your "private key" and allows trusted parties to unlock it with your "public key". If someone does not have your public key they cannot access the unencrypted message.

Locating an existing SSH key pair

Before generating a new SSH key check if your system already has one at the default location by opening a shell, or Command Prompt on Windows, and running the following command:

Windows Command Prompt:

type %userprofile%\.ssh\

GNU/Linux / macOS / PowerShell:

cat ~/.ssh/

If you see a string starting with ssh-rsa you already have an SSH key pair and you can skip the next step Generating a new SSH key pair and continue onto Copying your public SSH key to the clipboard. If you don't see the string or would like to generate a SSH key pair with a custom name continue onto the next step.

Generating a new SSH key pair

  1. To generate a new SSH key, use the following command:

    GNU/Linux / macOS:

    ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "GitLab" -b 4096


    On Windows you will need to download PuttyGen and follow this documentation article to generate a SSH key pair.

  2. Next, you will be prompted to input a file path to save your key pair to.

    If you don't already have an SSH key pair use the suggested path by pressing enter. Using the suggested path will allow your SSH client to automatically use the key pair with no additional configuration.

    If you already have a key pair with the suggested file path, you will need to input a new file path and declare what host this key pair will be used for in your .ssh/config file, see Working with non-default SSH key pair paths for more information.

  3. Once you have input a file path you will be prompted to input a password to secure your SSH key pair. It is a best practice to use a password for an SSH key pair, but it is not required and you can skip creating a password by pressing enter.

    Note: If you want to change the password of your key, you can use ssh-keygen -p <keyname>.

  4. The next step is to copy the public key as we will need it afterwards.

    To copy your public key to the clipboard, use the appropriate code for your operating system below:


    pbcopy < ~/.ssh/

    GNU/Linux (requires the xclip package):

    xclip -sel clip < ~/.ssh/

    Windows Command Line:

    type %userprofile%\.ssh\ | clip

    Windows PowerShell:

    cat ~/.ssh/ | clip
  5. The final step is to add your public SSH key to GitLab.

    Navigate to the 'SSH Keys' tab in you 'Profile Settings'. Paste your key in the 'Key' section and give it a relevant 'Title'. Use an identifiable title like 'Work Laptop - Windows 7' or 'Home MacBook Pro 15'.

    If you manually copied your public SSH key make sure you copied the entire key starting with ssh-rsa and ending with your email.

Working with non-default SSH key pair paths

If you used a non-default file path for your GitLab SSH key pair, you must configure your SSH client to find your GitLab SSH private key for connections to your GitLab server (perhaps

For OpenSSH clients this is configured in the ~/.ssh/config file. Below are two example host configurations using their own key:

# server
RSAAuthentication yes
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/config/private-key-filename-01

# Private GitLab server
RSAAuthentication yes
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/config/private-key-filename

Due to the wide variety of SSH clients and their very large number of configuration options, further explanation of these topics is beyond the scope of this document.

Public SSH keys need to be unique, as they will bind to your account. Your SSH key is the only identifier you'll have when pushing code via SSH. That's why it needs to uniquely map to a single user.

Deploy keys

Deploy keys allow read-only access to multiple projects with a single SSH key.

This is really useful for cloning repositories to your Continuous Integration (CI) server. By using deploy keys, you don't have to setup a dummy user account.

If you are a project master or owner, you can add a deploy key in the project settings under the section 'Deploy Keys'. Press the 'New Deploy Key' button and upload a public SSH key. After this, the machine that uses the corresponding private key has read-only access to the project.

You can't add the same deploy key twice with the 'New Deploy Key' option. If you want to add the same key to another project, please enable it in the list that says 'Deploy keys from projects available to you'. All the deploy keys of all the projects you have access to are available. This project access can happen through being a direct member of the project, or through a group.

Deploy keys can be shared between projects, you just need to add them to each project.



How to add your ssh key to Eclipse: