EasyPG Assistant user's manual

EasyPG Assistant is an Emacs user interface to GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG, see Top).

EasyPG Assistant is a part of the package called EasyPG, an all-in-one GnuPG interface for Emacs. EasyPG also contains the library interface called EasyPG Library.

This file describes EasyPG Assistant 1.0.0.

Copyright © 2007–2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover Texts being “A GNU Manual,” and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.

(a) The FSF's Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual.”

Quick start
Caching Passphrases
Bug Reports
GNU Free Documentation License The license for this documentation.
Key Index
Function Index
Variable Index

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1 Overview

EasyPG Assistant provides the following features.

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2 Quick start

EasyPG Assistant commands are prefixed by ‘epa-’. For example,

EasyPG Assistant provides several cryptographic features which can be integrated into other Emacs functionalities. For example, automatic encryption/decryption of *.gpg files.

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3 Commands

This chapter introduces various commands for typical use cases.

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3.1 Key management

Probably the first step of using EasyPG Assistant is to browse your keyring. M-x epa-list-keys is corresponding to ‘gpg --list-keys’ from the command line.

— Command: epa-list-keys name mode

Show all keys matched with name from the public keyring.

The output looks as follows.

       u A5B6B2D4B15813FE Daiki Ueno <ueno@unixuser.org>

A character on the leftmost column indicates the trust level of the key. If it is ‘u’, the key is marked as ultimately trusted. The second column is the key ID, and the rest is the user ID.

You can move over entries by <TAB>. If you type <RET> or click button1 on an entry, you will see more detailed information about the key you selected.

      u Daiki Ueno <ueno@unixuser.org>
      u A5B6B2D4B15813FE 1024bits DSA
             Created: 2001-10-09
             Expires: 2007-09-04
             Capabilities: sign certify
             Fingerprint: 8003 7CD0 0F1A 9400 03CA  50AA A5B6 B2D4 B158 13FE
      u 4447461B2A9BEA2D 2048bits ELGAMAL_E
             Created: 2001-10-09
             Expires: 2007-09-04
             Capabilities: encrypt
             Fingerprint: 9003 D76B 73B7 4A8A E588  10AF 4447 461B 2A9B EA2D

To browse your private keyring, use M-x epa-list-secret-keys.

— Command: epa-list-secret-keys name

Show all keys matched with name from the private keyring.

In *Keys* buffer, several commands are available. The common use case is to export some keys to a file. To do that, type m to select keys, type o, and then supply the filename.

Below are other commands related to key management. Some of them take a file as input/output, and others take the current region.

— Command: epa-insert-keys keys

Insert selected keys after the point. It will let you select keys before insertion. By default, it will encode keys in the OpenPGP armor format.

— Command: epa-import-keys file

Import keys from file to your keyring.

— Command: epa-import-keys-region start end

Import keys from the current region between start and end to your keyring.

— Command: epa-import-armor-in-region start end

Import keys in the OpenPGP armor format in the current region between start and end. The difference from epa-import-keys-region is that epa-import-armor-in-region searches armors in the region and applies epa-import-keys-region to each of them.

— Command: epa-delete-keys allow-secret

Delete selected keys. If allow-secret is non-nil, it also delete the secret keys.

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3.2 Cryptographic operations on regions

— Command: epa-decrypt-region start end

Decrypt the current region between start and end. It replaces the region with the decrypted text.

— Command: epa-decrypt-armor-in-region start end

Decrypt OpenPGP armors in the current region between start and end. The difference from epa-decrypt-region is that epa-decrypt-armor-in-region searches armors in the region and applies epa-decrypt-region to each of them. That is, this command does not alter the original text around armors.

— Command: epa-verify-region start end

Verify the current region between start and end. It sends the verification result to the minibuffer or a popup window. It replaces the region with the signed text.

— Command: epa-verify-cleartext-in-region

Verify OpenPGP cleartext blocks in the current region between start and end. The difference from epa-verify-region is that epa-verify-cleartext-in-region searches OpenPGP cleartext blocks in the region and applies epa-verify-region to each of them. That is, this command does not alter the original text around OpenPGP cleartext blocks.

— Command: epa-sign-region start end signers type

Sign the current region between start and end. By default, it creates a cleartext signature. If a prefix argument is given, it will let you select signing keys, and then a signature type.

— Command: epa-encrypt-region start end recipients sign signers

Encrypt the current region between start and end. It will let you select recipients. If a prefix argument is given, it will also ask you whether or not to sign the text before encryption and if you answered yes, it will let you select the signing keys.

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3.3 Cryptographic operations on files

— Command: epa-decrypt-file file &optional output

Decrypt file. If you do not specify the name output to use for the decrypted file, this function prompts for the value to use.

— Command: epa-verify-file file

Verify file.

— Command: epa-sign-file file signers type

Sign file. If a prefix argument is given, it will let you select signing keys, and then a signature type.

— Command: epa-encrypt-file file recipients

Encrypt file. It will let you select recipients.

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3.4 Dired integration

EasyPG Assistant extends Dired Mode for GNU Emacs to allow users to easily do cryptographic operations on files. For example,

     M-x dired
     (mark some files)
     : e (or M-x epa-dired-do-encrypt)
     (select recipients by 'm' and click [OK])

The following keys are assigned.

: d
Decrypt marked files.
: v
Verify marked files.
: s
Sign marked files.
: e
Encrypt marked files.

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3.5 Mail-mode integration

EasyPG Assistant provides a minor mode epa-mail-mode to help user compose inline OpenPGP messages. Inline OpenPGP is a traditional style of sending signed/encrypted emails by embedding raw OpenPGP blobs inside a message body, not using modern MIME format.

NOTE: Inline OpenPGP is not recommended and you should consider to use PGP/MIME. See Inline OpenPGP in E-mail is bad, Mm'kay?.

Once epa-mail-mode is enabled, the following keys are assigned. You can do it by C-u 1 M-x epa-mail-mode or through the Customize interface. Try M-x customize-variable epa-global-mail-mode.

C-c C-e C-d and C-c C-e d
Decrypt OpenPGP armors in the current buffer.
C-c C-e C-v and C-c C-e v
Verify OpenPGP cleartext signed messages in the current buffer.
C-c C-e C-s and C-c C-e s
Compose a signed message from the current buffer.
C-c C-e C-e and C-c C-e e
Compose an encrypted message from the current buffer. By default it tries to build the recipient list from ‘to’, ‘cc’, and ‘bcc’ fields of the mail header. To include your key in the recipient list, use ‘encrypt-to’ option in ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf. This function translates recipient addresses using the epa-mail-aliases list. You can also use that option to ignore specific recipients for encryption purposes.

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3.6 Encrypting/decrypting gpg files

By default, every file whose name ends with .gpg will be treated as encrypted. That is, when you open such a file, the decrypted text is inserted in the buffer rather than encrypted one. Similarly, when you save the buffer to a foo.gpg file, encrypted data is written.

The file name pattern for encrypted files can be controlled by epa-file-name-regexp.

— Variable: epa-file-name-regexp

Regexp which matches filenames treated as encrypted.

You can disable this behavior with M-x epa-file-disable, and then get it back with M-x epa-file-enable.

— Command: epa-file-disable

Disable automatic encryption/decryption of *.gpg files.

— Command: epa-file-enable

Enable automatic encryption/decryption of *.gpg files.

By default, epa-file will try to use symmetric encryption, aka password-based encryption. If you want to use public key encryption instead, do M-x epa-file-select-keys, which will pops up the key selection dialog.

— Command: epa-file-select-keys

Select recipient keys to encrypt the currently visiting file with public key encryption.

You can also change the default behavior with the variable epa-file-select-keys.

— Variable: epa-file-select-keys

Control whether or not to pop up the key selection dialog.

For frequently visited files, it might be a good idea to tell Emacs which encryption method should be used through See File Variables. Use the epa-file-encrypt-to local variable for this. For example, if you want an Elisp file to be encrypted with a public key associated with an email address ‘ueno@unixuser.org’, add the following line to the beginning of the file.

     ;; -*- epa-file-encrypt-to: ("ueno@unixuser.org") -*-

Instead, if you want the file always (regardless of the value of the epa-file-select-keys variable) encrypted with symmetric encryption, change the line as follows.

     ;; -*- epa-file-encrypt-to: nil -*-

Other variables which control the automatic encryption/decryption behavior are below.

— Variable: epa-file-cache-passphrase-for-symmetric-encryption

If non-nil, cache passphrase for symmetric encryption. The default value is nil.

— Variable: epa-file-inhibit-auto-save

If non-nil, disable auto-saving when opening an encrypted file. The default value is t.

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4 Caching Passphrases

Typing passphrases is an irritating task if you frequently open and close the same file. GnuPG and EasyPG Assistant provide mechanisms to remember your passphrases. However, the configuration is a bit confusing since it depends on your GnuPG installation (GnuPG version 1 or GnuPG version 2), encryption method (symmetric or public key), and whether or not you want to use gpg-agent. Here are some questions:

  1. Do you use GnuPG version 2 instead of GnuPG version 1?
  2. Do you use symmetric encryption rather than public key encryption?
  3. Do you want to use gpg-agent?

Here are configurations depending on your answers:

1 2 3 Configuration
Yes Yes Yes Set up gpg-agent.
Yes Yes No You can't, without gpg-agent.
Yes No Yes Set up gpg-agent.
Yes No No You can't, without gpg-agent.
No Yes Yes Set up elisp passphrase cache.
No Yes No Set up elisp passphrase cache.
No No Yes Set up gpg-agent.
No No No You can't, without gpg-agent.

To set up gpg-agent, follow the instruction in GnuPG manual. see Invoking GPG-AGENT.

To set up elisp passphrase cache, set epa-file-cache-passphrase-for-symmetric-encryption. See Encrypting/decrypting gpg files.

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5 Bug Reports

Bugs and problems with EasyPG Assistant are actively worked on by the Emacs development team. Feature requests and suggestions are also more than welcome. Use M-x report-emacs-bug, see Bugs.

When submitting a bug report, please try to describe in excruciating detail the steps required to reproduce the problem. Also try to collect necessary information to fix the bug, such as:

Before reporting the bug, you should set epg-debug in the ~/.emacs file and repeat the bug. Then, include the contents of the *epg-debug* buffer. Note that the first letter of the buffer name is a whitespace.

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Appendix A GNU Free Documentation License

Version 1.3, 3 November 2008
     Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
     Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
     of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

    The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document free in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

    This License is a kind of “copyleft”, which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free software.

    We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.


    This License applies to any manual or other work, in any medium, that contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it can be distributed under the terms of this License. Such a notice grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duration, to use that work under the conditions stated herein. The “Document”, below, refers to any such manual or work. Any member of the public is a licensee, and is addressed as “you”. You accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a way requiring permission under copyright law.

    A “Modified Version” of the Document means any work containing the Document or a portion of it, either copied verbatim, or with modifications and/or translated into another language.

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    1. Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title distinct from that of the Document, and from those of previous versions (which should, if there were any, be listed in the History section of the Document). You may use the same title as a previous version if the original publisher of that version gives permission.
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    10. Preserve the network location, if any, given in the Document for public access to a Transparent copy of the Document, and likewise the network locations given in the Document for previous versions it was based on. These may be placed in the “History” section. You may omit a network location for a work that was published at least four years before the Document itself, or if the original publisher of the version it refers to gives permission.
    11. For any section Entitled “Acknowledgements” or “Dedications”, Preserve the Title of the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein.
    12. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles.
    13. Delete any section Entitled “Endorsements”. Such a section may not be included in the Modified Version.
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    15. Preserve any Warranty Disclaimers.

    If the Modified Version includes new front-matter sections or appendices that qualify as Secondary Sections and contain no material copied from the Document, you may at your option designate some or all of these sections as invariant. To do this, add their titles to the list of Invariant Sections in the Modified Version's license notice. These titles must be distinct from any other section titles.

    You may add a section Entitled “Endorsements”, provided it contains nothing but endorsements of your Modified Version by various parties—for example, statements of peer review or that the text has been approved by an organization as the authoritative definition of a standard.

    You may add a passage of up to five words as a Front-Cover Text, and a passage of up to 25 words as a Back-Cover Text, to the end of the list of Cover Texts in the Modified Version. Only one passage of Front-Cover Text and one of Back-Cover Text may be added by (or through arrangements made by) any one entity. If the Document already includes a cover text for the same cover, previously added by you or by arrangement made by the same entity you are acting on behalf of, you may not add another; but you may replace the old one, on explicit permission from the previous publisher that added the old one.

    The author(s) and publisher(s) of the Document do not by this License give permission to use their names for publicity for or to assert or imply endorsement of any Modified Version.


    You may combine the Document with other documents released under this License, under the terms defined in section 4 above for modified versions, provided that you include in the combination all of the Invariant Sections of all of the original documents, unmodified, and list them all as Invariant Sections of your combined work in its license notice, and that you preserve all their Warranty Disclaimers.

    The combined work need only contain one copy of this License, and multiple identical Invariant Sections may be replaced with a single copy. If there are multiple Invariant Sections with the same name but different contents, make the title of each such section unique by adding at the end of it, in parentheses, the name of the original author or publisher of that section if known, or else a unique number. Make the same adjustment to the section titles in the list of Invariant Sections in the license notice of the combined work.

    In the combination, you must combine any sections Entitled “History” in the various original documents, forming one section Entitled “History”; likewise combine any sections Entitled “Acknowledgements”, and any sections Entitled “Dedications”. You must delete all sections Entitled “Endorsements.”


    You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.

    You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.


    A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an “aggregate” if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.

    If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document, then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.


    Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.

    If a section in the Document is Entitled “Acknowledgements”, “Dedications”, or “History”, the requirement (section 4) to Preserve its Title (section 1) will typically require changing the actual title.


    You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Document except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute it is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.

    However, if you cease all violation of this License, then your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated (a) provisionally, unless and until the copyright holder explicitly and finally terminates your license, and (b) permanently, if the copyright holder fails to notify you of the violation by some reasonable means prior to 60 days after the cessation.

    Moreover, your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated permanently if the copyright holder notifies you of the violation by some reasonable means, this is the first time you have received notice of violation of this License (for any work) from that copyright holder, and you cure the violation prior to 30 days after your receipt of the notice.

    Termination of your rights under this section does not terminate the licenses of parties who have received copies or rights from you under this License. If your rights have been terminated and not permanently reinstated, receipt of a copy of some or all of the same material does not give you any rights to use it.


    The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.

    Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License “or any later version” applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of this License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Document.


    “Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Site” (or “MMC Site”) means any World Wide Web server that publishes copyrightable works and also provides prominent facilities for anybody to edit those works. A public wiki that anybody can edit is an example of such a server. A “Massive Multiauthor Collaboration” (or “MMC”) contained in the site means any set of copyrightable works thus published on the MMC site.

    “CC-BY-SA” means the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license published by Creative Commons Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation with a principal place of business in San Francisco, California, as well as future copyleft versions of that license published by that same organization.

    “Incorporate” means to publish or republish a Document, in whole or in part, as part of another Document.

    An MMC is “eligible for relicensing” if it is licensed under this License, and if all works that were first published under this License somewhere other than this MMC, and subsequently incorporated in whole or in part into the MMC, (1) had no cover texts or invariant sections, and (2) were thus incorporated prior to November 1, 2008.

    The operator of an MMC Site may republish an MMC contained in the site under CC-BY-SA on the same site at any time before August 1, 2009, provided the MMC is eligible for relicensing.

ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

       Copyright (C)  year  your name.
       Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
       under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
       or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
       with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
       Texts.  A copy of the license is included in the section entitled ``GNU
       Free Documentation License''.

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the “with...Texts.” line with this:

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         the Front-Cover Texts being list, and with the Back-Cover Texts
         being list.

If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.

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