How to set up signing commits and tags with git on Windows


How to create a GPG key, configure git to use it, and how to set up GitHub and GitLab so your commits appear as verified.

Install GPG4Win

The easiest way to create and manage GPG keys is with GPG4Win. Download and install it, making sure ‘Kleopatra’ (the GPG key manager) is selected as a component to install.

Create a new GPG Key

  1. Open Kleopatra and click New Key Pair.

    gpg4win main window

  2. Select Create a personal OpenPGP key pair

  3. Enter your name and email address into the fields. If you want to verify your commits on GitHub or GitLab, make sure to use the same email address as the one on your account.

  4. Optionally click Advanced Settings and select a different key type from the list (the default is RSA 2048 bit). You can also configure an expiry date (by default there is none).

  5. Click Next, and then click Create Key Pair. Once your keys have been generated you can back them up to a secure location.

Configure Git with your GPG key

  1. Open PowerShell (or a command prompt) and list your GPG keys by running:

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    gpg --list-secret-keys --keyid-format LONG
  2. Copy the GPG key ID of the key you want to use. In the example blow the ID is 45BD3C089AD50FDE.

    gpg4win list keys

  3. To configure git to use this key run:

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    git config --global user.signingkey 45BD3C089AD50FDE
  4. To check your git config settings run:

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    git config --global --list

Sometimes git has trouble finding GPG. To fix this find the location of gpg.exe, e.g. by running where gpg.exe. The default location is C:\Program Files (x86)\GnuPG\bin\gpg.exe. Then configure git by running:

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git config --global gpg.program "C:\Program Files (x86)\GnuPG\bin\gpg.exe"

Signing Commits

Sign a single commit

To sign a single commit append the -S parameter to the normal command:

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git commit -S -m "my commit"

You will be prompted for the password for your GPG key. By default this will be cached for 10 minutes, but this is configurable.

Sign all commits by default

To configure git to sign all commits by default for a local repository run:

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git config commit.gpgsign true

Or to configure globally run:

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git config --global commit.gpgsign true

Viewing signed commits

To see the details of a signed commits in the git log run:

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git log --show-signature

Verify signed commits

To verify a commit run:

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git verify-commit <commit_hash>

Signing Tags

To sign a tag include the -s (note lowercase this time!) parameter to the normal command:

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git tag -s v1.0 -m "my signed release tag"

To verify a tag run:

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git verify-tag <tag_name>

Increase how long GPG Key password is cached

By default the password for your GPG key is cached for 10 minutes. To configure this, open Kleopatra, on the menu bar click Settings > Configure Kleopatra. On the left hand menu select GnuPG System and then click the Private Keys tab. In the Options controlling the security subsection change the Expire cached PINS after N seconds setting to a more appropriate value (e.g. 36000 for an hour).

adjust pin timeout

Also make sure that the Do not use the PIN cache when signing setting is left unchecked, otherwise caching won’t occur at all when signing commits.

Configure GitHub

To make commits appear as verified in GitHub, first make sure that the signing certificate set up with git has the same email address as your GitHub account.

  1. Open Kleopatra, right click on your GPG certificate and select Details. In the details window click Export.... Copy the exported public key to the clipboard.

    gpg4win export key

  2. In GitHub go to your profile settings, then click SSH and GPG Keys on the left hand menu.

  3. Click New GPG key, paste your key in and click Add GPG key.

    GitHub add gpg key

Any signed commits will now appear as verified.

Configure GitLab

To make commits appear as verified in GitLab, first make sure that the signing certificate set up with git has the same email address as your GitLab account.

  1. Open Kleopatra, right click on your GPG certificate and select Details. In the details window click Export.... Copy the exported public key to the clipboard.

    gpg4win export key

  2. In GitLab go to your profile settings, then click GPG Keys on the left hand menu.

  3. Paste your public key into the text box and click Add Key.

    GitLab add gpg key

Any signed commits will now appear as verified.

References

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