I have OS X 10.8.5 – I just accidentally deleted my .ssh directory. I have backups, but would prefer not to have to go through the trouble. The keys still "work" right now (they're loaded into Keychain Access and I can ssh into remote hosts) but I assume they will be lost once I log out.

I tried finding the key in Keychain Access, right-clicking on it, clicking "Copy SSH: …", but that only seems to have copied the password for that key. Is there some way to recover the private key from Keychain Access?


"Export "SSH key"" (or whatever the name of your key is) should be available below the copy and removal options in the right-click context menu of a key in keychain access.

Don't you see an option for export?

  • What's the type of your key line in Keychain Access? Is it listed as a 'private key', or an 'application password'? In the latter case you don't actually have the SSH key in your keychain, but just the password for it. – juhoautio Nov 3 '13 at 22:39
  • Unfortunately, no, and I just realized why – it's not a key I'm looking at. It's the "application password" for the key file. – kojiro Nov 3 '13 at 22:39

Maybe you could try and see if your deleted .ssh files are still found in a hidden place inside the hard drive: /Volumes/{your_hard_disk_name}/.Trashes.

See this tutorial for how to make .Trashes readable: http://www.wikihow.com/Recover-Accidentally-Deleted-Files-in-OS-X

  • I did look there, and sadly there are no remnants of the file there. – kojiro Nov 4 '13 at 14:10

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