How to Generate a Key on a YubiKey

PUBLISH DATE: 24 Jun 2023

Step by Step Instructions on How to Generate a Key on a YubiKey

Generating a key on a YubiKey involves using the YubiKey Manager application to configure the key generation settings and perform the actual generation process. Follow the step-by-step guide below to generate a key on a YubiKey:

Step 1: Install YubiKey Manager

Download and install the YubiKey Manager application from the official Yubico website. The application is available for various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Step 2: Launch YubiKey Manager

Open the YubiKey Manager application on your computer.

Step 3: Connect YubiKey

Insert your YubiKey into an available USB port on your computer. Ensure that the YubiKey is properly recognized and connected.

Step 4: Select YubiKey

In the YubiKey Manager application, select your connected YubiKey from the list of available YubiKeys displayed.

Step 5: Generate Key

Once you have selected your YubiKey, follow these steps to generate a key:

  1. Click on the "Applications" tab within the YubiKey Manager application.
  2. Locate the "PGP" category and click on the "Generate" button next to it. This will initiate the key generation process.
  3. Configure Key Generation Settings:
  • Select the desired key type, such as RSA or ECC.
  • Choose the key size and strength according to your requirements.
  • Specify the key's expiration date, if applicable.
  • Set a passphrase to protect the generated key. Ensure you choose a strong and memorable passphrase.
  1. Click on the "Generate" button to start the key generation process. This may take a few moments depending on the chosen key type and size.
  2. Once the key generation is complete, the generated key will be securely stored on your YubiKey.

Step 6: Backup Key

To ensure you have a backup of the generated key, consider exporting and securely storing it in a separate location. In the YubiKey Manager application, you can export the generated key and save it as a backup file on your computer or an external storage device.

Step 7: Test Key

To verify that the key generation was successful, you can perform a test encryption or decryption operation using the generated key. Use an application or command-line tool that supports PGP encryption/decryption and select the generated key on your YubiKey for the operation.


By following these steps and using the YubiKey Manager application, you can generate a key on your YubiKey with the desired specifications and security settings. Remember to keep your YubiKey and any exported key backups in secure locations to prevent unauthorized access and ensure the integrity of your cryptographic operations.


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