HOW TO: Manage PGP Keys with PGP Desktop 8.x for Macintosh

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Article ID: 180115

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This article describes how to manage PGP Desktop 8.x keyrings in Macintosh OS X. Included in this article are instructions for creating a PGP keypair and importing PGP keys.


PGP encryption is based on public-key cryptography. In order to use PGP, you must create a PGP keypair, which consists of a public key and a private key. Your public key should be given to anyone who wishes to send you encrypted data. Your private key, however, should never be given to others, and its passphrase should be kept totally secret.

When someone wishes to send you encrypted data, they use your public key to encrypt the data (which changes the data into illegible ciphertext). Once the data is encrypted with your public key, it may only be decrypted by your private key, for which only you know the passphrase. Thus when you want to send someone encrypted data, you use their public key to encrypt the data, which may then only be decrypted by their private key.

When data is encrypted with a public key, it is common to say that the data was encrypted to the public key. For more information about public-key cryptography, please refer to the Intro to Crypto document provided with your PGP software (this document is located in the Documentation folder of the PGP disk image).

 

Note: If you lose your private key or forget its passphrase, you will be unable to decrypt any data which was encrypted to the public portion of your keypair. Therefore it is very important to remember your passphrase and have a back-up copy of your keypair.


 

Create a PGP keypair 

  1. Start the PGP application: open Finder, browse to the Macintosh HD:Applications folder and double click PGP.app.
  2. On the menu bar, click the Window menu, then click PGPkeys.
  3. When the PGPkeys window appears on your screen, click the Keys menu, then click New.
  4. When the New Key Assistant appears, click the right arrow button to begin making your new keypair.
    If you are an experienced user and wish to specify the type, size, and expiration date of your keypair, click the Expert button.
  5. Enter your name and Email address, then click the right arrow button.
  6. If you are certain that nobody else sees your screen, you may uncheck the Hide Typing box to view your passphrase as you type it. Enter and confirm a passphrase for your private key, then click the right arrow button.

    PGP is only as strong as your passphrase, choose a strong passphrase.

    Your passphrase is case-sensitive.

    If your passphrase is not 8 characters or longer, you may either continue by clicking the right arrow on the following screen, or click the left arrow to go back and lengthen your passphrase.

     

     
  7. When the key generation is complete, click the right arrow button.
  8. To add your new keypair to your keyring, click the right arrow button.

Import a PGP key 

  1. Start the PGP application: open Finder, browse to theMacintosh HD:Applications folder and double click PGP.app.
  2. On the menu bar, click the Window menu, then click PGPkeys.
  3. When the PGPkeys window appears on your screen, click the Keys menu, then click Import.
  4. Browse to the key you wish to import, then click Open.
  5. When the Select Keys window appears, make sure the key you wish to import is highlighted, then click the Import button. If you are only importing a public key, you're done!
  6. If you are importing your own public/private keypair, click on your newly-imported keypair so it becomes highlighted.
  7. Click the Keys menu, then click Show Info.
  8. Click the Implicit Trust checkbox, then close the info window.