having trouble with encrypted mail - thunderbird, enigmail, gnupg

Neil Williams linux at codehelp.co.uk
Wed Sep 22 20:46:20 CEST 2004

On Tuesday 21 September 2004 2:08 am, Ed Stafford wrote:
> Can anyone tell me how to decrypt/read encrypted email messages.

You need the secret key on the same machine - not just the public key.

> I have two mail addresses that I am experimenting with on seperate
> computers.
> I have created a key for each address and exported public keys that
> were then exchanged, imported and signed.

Both computers (in your case) need at least one secret key and BOTH public 

gpg --export-secret-keys <KEYID>

gpg --export only exports the public key, therefore there's only the public 
key to import.

Did you generate both keys on the same computer?

> Then I tried sending signed mail using the recipients pub key...That
> worked fine
> But if I encrypt it with the recipients pub key, I cannot read or
> decrypt it using the recipient email account on the other computer.
> I can read signed mail with success, but trying to decrypt encrypted

Reading signed email only needs the public key.
Decryption always requires the secret key.

> mail returns an error that there is no secret key available.

Probably because it's on the other machine.

Run this on both machines:
gpg --list-secret-keys

> I have not found any information on the web to help me.
It's there, you just didn't realise it.

Also, make sure you really are encrypting to the correct key - try it on the 
command line by specifying the other key using -r

'man gpg' should sort out the rest of your queries.


Neil Williams

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