Secrets and Command Line

Dec 17, 2018 11:30 · 272 words · 2 minute read command-line macos security

Have you been in the situation when running a command in the terminal which requires typing the password along with it?

It may seem normal, but besides having your password exposed in plain sight it becomes part of you shell history. Another situation where it can be a bit awkard is when pairing with someone.

If you use macOS, you can make use of the Keychain to avoid showing the password when performing such tasks.

It is quite simple. Check it out:

  1. Add the password to the Keychain
  2. Retrive the password when needed
  3. (Optional) Minimise how much typing is necessary

Let me elaborate those a bit more.

Add Password to Keychain

Type the command below, and follow the instructions.

$ security add-generic-password -a ${USER} -s <service-name> -w

The <service-name> could be Company-GitHub. It represents which service that password belongs to.

Retrieve Password From Keychain

The command below prints the password in the terminal.

$ security find-generic-password -a ${USER} -s <service-name> -w

But that is not the desired behaviour, though the ability of printing the password anywhere has been enabled. Let’s make use of it

$ curl --user "me:$(security find-generic-password -a ${USER} -s <service-name> -w)" \

(Optional) Minimise Typing

The command security find-generic-password -a ${USER} -s <service-name> -w might be a tad long to be typed everytime the password is needed.

I usually create some shell functions to help me with that, like:

gh_pass() {
  security find-generic-password -a ${USER} -s personal-gh -w

And then just use the function when needed (e.g. the command above):

$ curl --user "me:$(gh_pass)"

Another tool which makes this and many other things possible is pass.