- You need to use two different github accounts from one computer.
- You don't want to have to configure your ssh keys every time you switch accounts.
- You don't want to edit the repo's ssh address every time you clone a repo either as suggested by a lot of online tutorials.
Solution: You put all your work repos in one folder and update your ssh config to conditionally use a different SSH key. Everything else will use the default ssh key (your personal account).
Github uses the SSH protocol with the RSA cryptosystem to authenticate your computer. When you generate a new SSH key, there will be two keys created - a private key and a public key. You'll need to add the public key to your github account but leave the private key on your machine. You can read more about public-key cryptography here.
If you've already generated and added your SSH keys to your github account, skip this section.
Checking for existing keys
- First, check if there are SSH keys present on your machine by going to terminal and run
ls -al ~/.ssh. By default, the filenames of the public keys start with
id_rsaand end in
- If you're not sure which key belongs to which account and want to start with new keys, you can delete your keys by running
ssh-add -Dfrom terminal. This only removes manually added keys so if you're running into issues, take a look at this stackoverflow answer. Make sure to go to the folder where your SSH keys are located - run
open ~/.sshfrom terminal and save a copy before overwriting them.
Generating new keys
From terminal, run
ssh-keygen -t rsa -f ~/.ssh/id_rsa -C "firstname.lastname@example.org"
If you get asked to overwrite an existing key of the same name, type
yif you want to overwrite it. If you don't want to overwrite it, type
nand reenter the above command with a new filename. Just change
id_rsato something else like
Enter a secure passphrase. This will generate two a private key
id_rsaand a public key
Copy the public key
pbcopy < ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pubfrom terminal. You can also open the SSH key directory by running
open ~/.ssh, dragging the
id_rsa.pubfile into your code editor and copying the contents of the file.
From a browser, go to the settings of your github account by clicking your profile picture from the top right corner.
In the user settings sidebar, click
SSH and GPG keys.
New SSH key
Paste your copied public key in the "Key" field and give it an appropriate title in the "Title" field.
Add SSH key.
Repeat the above steps to generate and add a new key for your second github account. Just make sure to give a different name like
- From terminal, run
- Check if a config file exists by running -
ls config. If you see
ls: config: No such file or directory, create a new config file by running
- Open the config file by dragging it into your code editor.
Paste the following into the file:
Host github.com HostName github.com User git IdentitiesOnly yes AddKeysToAgent yes UseKeychain yes Match Host github.com !exec "pwd | grep '/COMPANY' > /dev/null" IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa Match Host github.com exec "pwd | grep '/COMPANY' > /dev/null" IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_$COMPANY
Source for the above snippet.
UseKeychainto yes stores your passphrase in the keychain so you don't have to retype it every time.
exec "pwd | grep '/COMPANY' > /dev/null"checks if the current folder is nested inside your
COMPANYfolder. If it is, it'll use
id_rsa_$COMPANYSSH key and your default one otherwise. 
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/config.
Now that you've set up your SSH keys, you still need to configure your user.name and user.email variables. These determine what ends up in the author and committer field of commit objects. Without setting this, you'll be able to push to your work directory but if you want your commits to have your work email and name, you have set up your
- Check if you have an existing
.gitconfigin your root by running
ls ~/.gitconfig. If you don't have one, create one by running
- Do the same for your work directory.
.gitconfigin your root and inside there add your personal git user name and email. Also include an
includeIfpath that tells git to use a different
.gitconfigfor your work repos.
# ~/.gitconfig [user] email = email@example.com name = your-user-name [user] email = firstname.lastname@example.org name = your-user-name [includeIf "gitdir:~/PATH/TO/WORK/DIR/RELATIVE/TO/ROOT"] path = ~/PATH/TO/WORK/DIR/RELATIVE/TO/ROOT/.gitconfig
.gitconfigin your work directory, add your work email and work user name.
# ~/PATH/TO/WORK/DIR/RELATIVE/TO/ROOT/.gitconfig [user] email = email@example.com name = your-work-user-name
Now you'll be able to use both git accounts with SSH and your commits will have the right email and name for author.
 Note: Detailed breakdown of
exec "pwd | grep '/COMPANY' > /dev/null":
pwd stands for
print working directory . The
| takes the standard output of the command on the left, and pipes it as standard input to the command on the right.
grep searches plain text for a match.
> redirects the results of the previous command to the file on the right.
/dev/null is a "black hole" where all data written gets discarded. Read more about
So the command is basically saying to get your current working directory, search for your
COMPANY name and discard the returned value. The exit code from this command will determine which SSH key to use.