How to make PGP/GPG work?

Verify that you've installed PGP properly and your mutt is compiled with PGP support:

mutt -v

RTFM about the $pgp_* vars, pgp-hook, use : source <path-to-manual.txt>/samples/pgpX.rc where you replace the "X" with the version of PGP you are using. You can find there a file for GPG, too.

Read The GNU Privacy Handbook as a general introduction to GnuPG.

How to make oldstyle / classic / traditional / inline PGP work?

Three ways to read such messages, in decreasing comfort:

  • With recent Mutts >= 1.5.7, use the <check-traditional-pgp> function automatically inside a message-hook, setting this one line in muttrc:
      message-hook '!(~g|~G) ~b"^-----BEGIN\ PGP\ (SIGNED\ )?MESSAGE"' "exec check-traditional-pgp"

: Note: This doesn't work so well with inline signatures within MIME digests.

  • Use the pgp_auto_decode option, which is very similar to the message-hook method but also works within MIME digests.
  • Use the <check-traditional-pgp> function manually, typing ESC P key.

: Note: The way #2 (message-hook) was triggering an infinite loop bug in old Mutts. Bug solved long ago: Upgrade.

: Note: Avoid any random advice to use procmail recipe to change inline text to app/pgp so Mutt can deal with the message. This is an old dirty hack that at first may have seemed to work, but solving one problem created three others. Today: Avoid at all costs.

Since some coders of mutt established RFCs for usage of PGP secured eMail with MIME (2015, 3156, see RelevantStandards) to make lives easier for users (and clients), avoid creating old style PGP email, let mutt do it right.

If for some stuck with old software-reason you insist on producing them, adjust $pgp_create_traditional to your needs.

Other MUAs (mail-programs) can't handle mutt's PGP-stuff being attachments?

That's a pity, ... really, seriously. Even though mutt has a head-start when it comes to RFC compliance with MIME + PGP, by now other MUA coders should have noticed that there is a standardized way to deal with it, more useful than the old inline stuff.

If you keep getting complaints of OE users not able to read your message, try:

reply-hook "~h 'Outlook Express'" set crypt_autosign = no reply-hook . set crypt_autosign = yes

I typed wrong the passphrase, but mutt still keeps using it?

Maybe your PGP commands return bad exit codes for errors. See "?" for how to forget-passphrase.

Does Mutt do S/MIME?

There is support for S/MIME in the 1.5.4 (?) and higher.

There is an HTML guide at

Note that openssl-0.9.7d fails to encrypt your messages because of a bug in it:

I'm using gpg to encrypt messages and can't read my own postings

gpg can encrypt messages to several people at once. Add your keyid and you will be able to read messages in your $record folder.

The easiest way is to add

encrypt-to your-keyid

to ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf (~/.gnupg/options in gpg 1.0). You can alternatively add it in Mutt's crypt_* options. But BEWARE of the security implications this has. Basically, this adds another vulnerability to the encrypted message. If either sender or the receiver key is compromised, an attacker can read the message.

Another even less secure possibility is to save your local copy unencrypted. See mutt's $fcc_clear.

So there are two possibilities: Encrypt with your key too or save a cleartext copy. The safest option is to not store a local copy or to live with the fact that you cannot read the message.

Which keyserver should I use? is a rotation server that includes only the new sks servers. The old public key servers often screw up keys by dropping subkeys or multiplying user ids.

How can I retrieve PGP-keys automatically?

That is a gpg setting. (~/.gnupg/gpg.conf)

keyserver [or any other server]
keyserver-options auto-key-retrieve
Last modified 3 years ago Last modified on Jun 16, 2014 7:11:50 AM