gopass: “gpg: decryption failed: No secret key”

For a few years now I have been using the pass password manager. It is a wonderfully simple way to manage passwords using PGP to encrypt passwords in text files. The same files can then be placed in a git repository, which makes replicating passwords easy.

For different reasons I am now migrating to gopass, a Go implementation of pass with a few additional features. I am using Homebrew to install gopass on my machine: brew install gopass. Theoretically, gopass should work out-of-the-box and is compatible with the old pass utility. So I was quite surprised to see an error message like this:

$ gopass github
Entry 'github' not found. Starting search...
Found exact match in ''
gpg: decryption failed: No secret key

Error: failed to retrieve secret '': Failed to decrypt

Strange. But decrypting the password file directly using PGP works fine:

$ gpg -d ~/.password-store/

If the above command using gpg does not work, check your keys using gpg --list-keys and gpg --list-secret-keys. Especially when migrating to GPG2, sometimes keys do not get imported into the new keyrings. In case you need to import the old keyring into the new format like so:

$ gpg --import ~/.gnupg/pubring.gpg
$ gpg --import ~/.gnupg/secring.gpg

But even after importing the keys, I still received gpg: decryption failed: No secret key. So after searching around I found that I need to set the GPG_TTY variable:

$ export GPG_TTY=$(tty)

It seems that not setting the GPG_TTY environment variable leads to the error above. Which is quite misleading. After setting this environment variable (and adding it to the .bash_profile), gopass works as expected.

Hello world

My name is Simon Krenger, I am a Technical Account Manager (TAM) at Red Hat. I advise our customers in using Kubernetes, Containers, Linux and Open Source.


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