SSH Key Management

Updated on July 7th, 2021

Flywheel uses SSH keys to authenticate connections to our SSH gateway. This article will explain how to view existing keys, generate new ones, and use them on Flywheel.

Table of Contents:

1. What is an SSH key?
2. Checking for existing SSH keys
3. Generating new SSH keys on Mac/Linux
4. Generating new SSH keys on Windows
5. Adding SSH keys to Flywheel

What is an SSH key?

To establish a secure connection between the client (your computer) and the remote server (your Flywheel sites), you must first be authenticated. SSH keys are the method of authentication Flywheel uses, because they provide the best secure encryption.

SSH keys come in pairs – a public key and a private key. The private key is kept on the machine you are authenticating from and the public key is added to Flywheel.

Checking for existing SSH keys

SSH keys are typically stored in the ~./ssh folder on your machine. To check if you already have an SSH key pair, you can look in that directory and see if there are any files by opening up a terminal and typing this command:

cd ~/.ssh; ls

If you see a pair of files named something like id_ed25519 and (or id_rsa), then you already have a key pair and can continue on to adding and deleting keys on Flywheel. If there isn’t a key pair listed, you’ll need to generate one.

Generating new SSH keys on Mac/Linux

Follow these steps to generate a new SSH key pair:

  1. Open up your terminal program of choice (like Terminal or iTerm for Mac).
  2. Use the ssh-keygen command to generate a new pair:
    ssh-keygen -a 100 -t ed25519
    Generating public/private ed25519 key pair.
    Enter file in which to save the key (/Users/username/.ssh/id_ed25519):


    If creating SSH keys for use with GitHub Actions you will need to substitute rsa for ed25519 in order to convert to PEM format.

  3. Press enter to accept the default location and file name, or enter your preferred location and name.
  4. Enter a passphrase when prompted.
  5. Voila! You’re ready to copy the public key and paste it into the Flywheel dashboard.

Generating new SSH keys on Windows

Windows users can generate SSH keys using PuTTYgen. For more information, check out this help article:

Connecting to Flywheel’s SSH gateway using PuTTY

Adding SSH keys to Flywheel

Once a key pair has been generated, it’s time to add the public key to the Flywheel dashboard!

  1. First you’ll need to copy the public key to your clipboard. We have used “id_ed25519” for the example here, please adjust for your setup.On MacOS:
    pbcopy < ~/.ssh/

    On Windows and Linux:

    cat ~/.ssh/ and copy the terminal output
  2. Next, head over to the SSH page in the Flywheel dashboard and click the blue “plus” button on the top right of the SSH Keys card.
  3. Enter a name for your key. A common convention is to use the name of the machine that the key exists on (for example, Trevan’s MacBook Pro)
  4. Paste the key you copied in step 1 into the text field.
  5. Click the green “Add Key” button.

You’re now ready to connect to your sites via SSH!

Still need help?

If you have any questions about accessing your sites via SSH, please reach out to our friendly Happiness Engineers!

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