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AGE(1) AGE(1)


age - simple, modern, and secure file encryption


age [--encrypt] (-r RECIPIENT | -R PATH)... [--armor] [-o OUTPUT] [INPUT]
age [--encrypt] --passphrase [--armor] [-o OUTPUT] [INPUT]
age --decrypt [-i PATH]... [-o OUTPUT] [INPUT]


age encrypts or decrypts INPUT to OUTPUT. The INPUT argument is optional and defaults to standard input. Only a single INPUT file may be specified. If -o is not specified, OUTPUT defaults to standard output.

If --passphrase is specified, the file is encrypted with a passphrase requested interactively. Otherwise, it´s encrypted to one or more RECIPIENTS specified with -r/--recipient or -R/--recipients-file. Every recipient can decrypt the file.

In --decrypt mode, passphrase-encrypted files are detected automatically and the passphrase is requested interactively. Otherwise, one or more IDENTITIES specified with -i/--identity are used to decrypt the file.

age encrypted files are binary and not malleable, with around 200 bytes of overhead per recipient, plus 16 bytes every 64KiB of plaintext.


Write encrypted or decrypted file to OUTPUT instead of standard output. If OUTPUT already exists it will be overwritten.
If encrypting without --armor, age will refuse to output binary to a TTY. This can be forced by specifying - as OUTPUT.
Print the version and exit.

Encryption options

Encrypt INPUT to OUTPUT. This is the default.
Encrypt to the explicitly specified RECIPIENT. See the RECIPIENTS AND IDENTITIES section for possible recipient formats.
This option can be repeated and combined with -R/--recipients-file, and the file can be decrypted by all provided recipients independently.
Encrypt to the RECIPIENTS listed in the file at PATH, one per line. Empty lines and lines starting with # are ignored as comments.
If PATH is -, the recipients are read from standard input. In this case, the INPUT argument must be specified.
This option can be repeated and combined with -r/--recipient, and the file can be decrypted by all provided recipients independently.
Encrypt with a passphrase, requested interactively from the terminal. age will offer to auto-generate a secure passphrase.
This options can´t be used with -r/--recipient or -R/--recipients-file.
Encrypt to an ASCII-only "armored" encoding.
age armor is a strict version of PEM with type AGE ENCRYPTED FILE, canonical "strict" Base64, no headers, and no support for leading and trailing extra data.
Decryption transparently detects and decodes ASCII armoring.

Decryption options

Decrypt INPUT to OUTPUT.
If INPUT is passphrase encrypted, it will be automatically detected and the passphrase will be requested interactively. Otherwise, the IDENTITIES specified with -i/--identity are used.
ASCII armoring is transparently detected and decoded.
Decrypt using the IDENTITIES at PATH.
PATH may be one of the following:
a. A file listing IDENTITIES one per line. Empty lines and lines starting with "#" are ignored as comments.
b. A passphrase encrypted age file, containing IDENTITIES one per line like above. The passphrase is requested interactively. Note that passphrase-protected identity files are not necessary for most use cases, where access to the encrypted identity file implies access to the whole system.
c. An SSH private key file, in PKCS#1, PKCS#8, or OpenSSH format. If the private key is password-protected, the password is requested interactively only if the SSH identity matches the file. See the SSH keys section for more information, including supported key types.
d. "-", causing one of the options above to be read from standard input. In this case, the INPUT argument must be specified.
This option can be repeated. Identities are tried in the order in which are provided, and the first one matching one of the file´s recipients is used. Unused identities are ignored.
If -e/--encrypt is explicitly specified (to avoid confusion), -i/--identity may also be used to encrypt to the RECIPIENTS corresponding to the IDENTITIES listed at PATH. This allows using an identity file as a symmetric key, if desired.


RECIPIENTS are public values, like a public key, that a file can be encrypted to. IDENTITIES are private values, like a private key, that allow decrypting a file encrypted to the corresponding RECIPIENT.

Native X25519 keys

Native age key pairs are generated with age-keygen(1), and provide small encodings and strong encryption based on X25519. They are the recommended recipient type for most applications.

A RECIPIENT encoding begins with age1 and looks like the following:


An IDENTITY encoding begins with AGE-SECRET-KEY-1 and looks like the following:


An encrypted file can´t be linked to the native recipient it´s encrypted to without access to the corresponding identity.

SSH keys

As a convenience feature, age also supports encrypting to RSA or Ed25519 ssh(1) keys. RSA keys must be at least 2048 bits. This feature employs more complex cryptography, and should only be used when a native key is not available for the recipient. Note that SSH keys might not be protected long-term by the recipient, since they are revokable when used only for authentication.

A RECIPIENT encoding is an SSH public key in authorized_keys format (see the AUTHORIZED_KEYS FILE FORMAT section of sshd(8)), starting with ssh-rsa or ssh-ed25519, like the following:

ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAADAQABAAABgQDULTit0KUehbi[...]GU4BtElAbzh8=
ssh-ed25519 AAAAC3NzaC1lZDI1NTE5AAAAIH9pO5pz22JZEas[...]l1uZc31FGYMXa

The comment at the end of the line, if present, is ignored.

In recipient files passed to -R/--recipients-file, unsupported but valid SSH public keys are ignored with a warning, to facilitate using authorized_keys or GitHub .keys files. (See EXAMPLES.)

An IDENTITY is an SSH private key file passed individually to -i/--identity. Note that keys held on hardware tokens such as YubiKeys or accessed via ssh-agent(1) are not supported.

An encrypted file can be linked to the SSH public key it was encrypted to. This is so that age can identify the correct SSH private key before requesting its password, if any.


age will exit 0 if and only if encryption or decryption are succesful for the full length of the input.

If an error occurs during decryption, partial output might still be generated, but only if it was possible to securely authenticate it. No unauthenticathed output is ever released.


Files encrypted with a stable version (not alpha, beta, or release candidate) of age, or with any v1.0.0 beta or release candidate, will decrypt with any later version of the tool.

If decrypting older files poses a security risk, doing so might cause an error by default, and a flag will be provided to force the operation.


Generate a new identity, encrypt data, and decrypt:

$ age-keygen -o key.txt
Public key: age1ql3z7hjy54pw3hyww5ayyfg7zqgvc7w3j2elw8zmrj2kg5sfn9aqmcac8p
$ tar cvz ~/data | age -r age1ql3z7hjy54pw3hyww5ayyfg7zqgvc7w3j2elw8zmrj2kg5sfn9aqmcac8p > data.tar.gz.age
$ age -d -o data.tar.gz -i key.txt data.tar.gz.age

Encrypt example.jpg to multiple recipients and output to example.jpg.age:

$ age -o example.jpg.age -r age1ql3z7hjy54pw3hyww5ayyfg7zqgvc7w3j2elw8zmrj2kg5sfn9aqmcac8p \

-r age1lggyhqrw2nlhcxprm67z43rta597azn8gknawjehu9d9dl0jq3yqqvfafg example.jpg

Encrypt to a list of recipients:

$ cat > recipients.txt
# Alice
# Bob
$ age -R recipients.txt example.jpg > example.jpg.age

Encrypt and decrypt a file using a passphrase:

$ age -p secrets.txt > secrets.txt.age
Enter passphrase (leave empty to autogenerate a secure one):
Using the autogenerated passphrase "release-response-step-brand-wrap-ankle-pair-unusual-sword-train".
$ age -d secrets.txt.age > secrets.txt
Enter passphrase:

Encrypt and decrypt with a passphrase-protected identity file:

$ age-keygen | age -p > key.age
Public key: age1yhm4gctwfmrpz87tdslm550wrx6m79y9f2hdzt0lndjnehwj0ukqrjpyx5
Enter passphrase (leave empty to autogenerate a secure one):
Using the autogenerated passphrase "hip-roast-boring-snake-mention-east-wasp-honey-input-actress".
$ age -r age1yhm4gctwfmrpz87tdslm550wrx6m79y9f2hdzt0lndjnehwj0ukqrjpyx5 secrets.txt > secrets.txt.age
$ age -d -i key.age secrets.txt.age > secrets.txt
Enter passphrase for identity file "key.age":

Encrypt and decrypt with an SSH public key:

$ age -R ~/.ssh/ example.jpg > example.jpg.age
$ age -d -i ~/.ssh/id_ed25519 example.jpg.age > example.jpg

Encrypt to the SSH keys of a GitHub user:

$ curl | age -R - example.jpg > example.jpg.age




Filippo Valsorda

September 2021