Syncing Keys between multiple computers?

David Shaw dshaw at
Mon May 2 02:12:37 CEST 2011

On May 1, 2011, at 7:51 PM, John Clizbe wrote:

> Christopher Tran wrote:
>> Whats the easiest way to keep GPG keys synced between my computers? Like, I
> have my MacBook, which is usually my main machine, but I also have my netbook
> which I prefer carrying around and sometimes I update my key with User IDs on
> either machine but the only way I have thought of is to export and import every
> single time. Is there an easier way?
> The simplification is in /how/ you import the keys:
>    gpg --import /path/to/other/secring.gpg
>    gpg --import-options import-local-sigs --import /path/to/other/pubring.gpg
> Do this first on one machine bringing over the changes from the other and then
> repeat on the second machine. By importing the full keyring, there is no need
> for the export step.
> Note: this works for now. It is likely to change and break in some form
> in the future.

The issue about future versions is that you probably won't be able to import a keyring file directly.  At the moment, a keyring file and the exported keyring format happen to be the same, but this is likely to change.  A method that should work equally well today and in the future is:

 gpg --export-secret-keys > my-secret-keyring.gpg
 gpg --export-options export-local-sigs --export > my-public-keyring.gpg

(copy the files over)

 gpg --import my-secret-keyring.gpg
 gpg --import-options import-local-sigs my-public-keyring.gpg

It's an export plus an import, but you don't need to explicitly state which key(s) you want to play with.  Just bring the whole ring over.


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