#86 fixed
Noah Gray

"No usable private key" error

Reported by Noah Gray | September 26th, 2011 @ 03:36 AM | in 1.8 (closed)

Even though I have created a private key, when I go

Aurora -> Services -> Open PGP: Encrypt

and select a public key, it (sometimes) says, "no usable private key".

I then (sometimes) get the error "The "OpenPGP: Encrypt" service could not be used because the application did not respond to a request for service. Try reopening "null" or contacting the vendor for an updated version."

I've been able to get a few things encrypted, but the recipient said they could not decrypt them. I used their public key.

I am on Mac OS X Lion, using the browser that comes with Tor. I'm desperate for help, I've been asking on forums and on IRC but no replies so far. Please help.

Comments and changes to this ticket

  • Alex (via GPGTools)

    Alex (via GPGTools) September 26th, 2011 @ 09:29 AM

    • State changed from “new” to “open”
    • Milestone set to 1.7
    • Assigned user set to “ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp)”
    • Importance changed from “Medium” to “”
  • ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp)

    ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp) September 26th, 2011 @ 12:08 PM

    For the "no usable private key"-thing: Can you please try unchecking the "Sign" box. Encryption should only require a private key if the message will get signed prior encryption.

    As for the "did not respond..."-error: GPGServices (or you ;-)) took too much time to send an answer back to the application. This is caused by the design of OS X services. I'm not sure if there's any way to increase this timeout, but it's usually pretty long. (A minute or so).

    If you want to make sure encrypting works on your machine, please try encrypting something to me: 0xa50518ed59b34b61 (Moritz Ulrich) using the same method you used to encrypt to your recipient.

  • Noah Gray

    Noah Gray September 26th, 2011 @ 12:17 PM

    @Mortiz Ulrich

    The "sign" box was not checked.

    I'm not sure how to encrypt something for you because I don't think I know your public key.

  • ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp)

    ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp) September 26th, 2011 @ 12:29 PM


    You can get my public key either using GPGKeychainAccess (Key -> Retrieve from Keyserver and enter the ID 0xa50518ed59b34b61) or Terminal.app:

    gpg --recv-keys 0xa50518ed59b34b61

    Both will download my key from a public keyserver.

    Can you tell me a bit more about your setup? Do you have a private key on your machine? When did the "no usable private key found" message appears? It is reproducible?

  • ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp)

    ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp) September 26th, 2011 @ 01:19 PM

    Ah, identified the "No usable private key" error. Indeed, encrypting didn't handle the case when you don't have a private key on your machine very well. I'll fix this.

  • Noah Gray

    Noah Gray September 26th, 2011 @ 08:08 PM

    @Mortiz Ulrich

    It is reproducible. I'm just not sure what triggers it. Sometimes I can go an encrypt something twice in a row, and my secret key will appear in the drop down box of the Choose Recipients - GPGServices window. But eventually it will revert back to not showing anything in the drop down and giving the error. I've also noticed it will show fewer public keys to choose from when it does this as well. It will only show 2 but I have about 6 imported/created.

    Here's something that should be encrypted with your key.

    -----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE----- Version: GnuPG/MacGPG2 v2.0.17 (Darwin)
    Comment: GPGTools - http://gpgtools.org

    =uSb8 -----END PGP MESSAGE-----

    Let me know if that works.

  • Casemon

    Casemon November 28th, 2011 @ 03:49 AM

    Am seeing this same issue. Sometimes private key is available in the list and sometimes not. I really need to decrypt something but private key is not showing up no matter what i do.

    Have tried uninstalling /reinstalling & restoring my keys; it is very frustrating.

    I know you guys kick ass with this stuff but thinking maybe i should try to find a pay PGP solution? I abhor the idea of paying for encryption, given the inherit conflict of interest it represents, but need to be able to use it reliably.

    Any ideas on how to fix this issue?

    Am using OSX Lion, & latest GPG.

  • steve

    steve January 29th, 2012 @ 04:46 PM

    • State changed from “open” to “waiting”
    • Assigned user changed from “ronin-140089 (at lighthouseapp)” to “Jeff burdges”
    • Importance changed from “” to “”

    Hi all, could you please test the latest nightly and report back if the issue still exists?

    Grab it here: http://nightly.gpgtools.org/

  • Noah Gray

    Noah Gray January 29th, 2012 @ 09:20 PM

    • Importance changed from “” to “”

    The problem still exists.

  • Alex (via GPGTools)

    Alex (via GPGTools) January 29th, 2012 @ 09:21 PM

    • State changed from “waiting” to “open”
  • steve

    steve April 30th, 2012 @ 05:46 PM

    • Milestone changed from 1.7 to 1.8
    • Importance changed from “” to “”
  • steve

    steve April 30th, 2012 @ 05:48 PM

    • Assigned user cleared.
  • C Fraire

    C Fraire May 1st, 2012 @ 07:15 AM

    • Assigned user set to “Jeff burdges”

    This may have been fixed with:


    which rationalized GPGServices' canEncrypt and canSign criteria to be in line with GPGMail and modified the Key chooser logic.

    I have just submitted a pull request with some additional fixes in this area:


  • steve

    steve May 1st, 2012 @ 04:51 PM

    • State changed from “open” to “waiting”
    • Assigned user changed from “Jeff burdges” to “Mento”

    Chris, thanks for the fixes.

    @Noah: Could you please visit http://nightly.gpgtools.org/ and download the latest GPGTools_Installer-trunk.dmg file. Run that on your system and see if the problem persists.

  • steve

    steve August 13th, 2012 @ 03:30 PM

    • State changed from “waiting” to “fixed”

    No further user feedback. Closing this. GPGServices have received many fixes in the last few days.

    @Noah and @Casemon: Please try the latest nightly from here https://nightly.gpgtools.org/ should be fixed.

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