Authenticating to GitHub

You can securely access your account's resources on GitHub Desktop by authenticating to GitHub.

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About authentication

To keep your account secure, you must authenticate before you can use GitHub Desktop to access resources on GitHub.

Before you authenticate, you must already have a GitHub or GitHub Enterprise account.

  • For more information on creating a GitHub account, see "Signing up for a new GitHub account".
  • For a GitHub Enterprise account, contact your GitHub Enterprise site administrator.

Authenticating an account on GitHub

  1. In the menu bar, use the GitHub Desktop drop-down menu, then click Preferences.

    The Preferences value in the GitHub Desktop drop-down menu

  2. In the Preferences window, select Accounts.

    The Accounts pane in the Preferences window

  3. To the right of "GitHub.com," click Sign In.

    The Sign In button for GitHub

  4. In the "Sign in" pane, click Sign in using your browser. GitHub Desktop will open your default browser.

    The Sign in using your browser link

    Warning: Authenticating to GitHub using your username and password is deprecated. We recommend authenticating using the browser instead.

  5. To authenticate to GitHub, type your GitHub.com credentials and click Sign in.

    The Sign In button for GitHub in browser

    Alternatively, if you were already signed in to GitHub, follow the prompts to return to GitHub Desktop to finish authenticating.

  6. If you have configured two-factor authentication (2FA) for GitHub, do one of the following:

    • If you set up 2FA via SMS, retrieve your 2FA code from an SMS message.
    • If you set up 2FA with a TOTP application, generate a 2FA code.

    Then enter your 2FA code in the prompt on GitHub and click Verify.

    The 2FA Authentication code field

  7. After GitHub authenticates your account, follow the prompts to return to GitHub Desktop.

Authenticating an account on GitHub Enterprise

Warning: Authenticating to GitHub using your username and password is deprecated. We recommend authenticating using the browser instead.

  1. In the menu bar, use the GitHub Desktop drop-down menu, then click Preferences.

    The Preferences value in the GitHub Desktop drop-down menu

  2. In the Preferences window, select Accounts.

    The Accounts pane in the Preferences window

  3. To the right of "GitHub Enterprise Server," click Sign In.

    The Sign in button for GitHub Enterprise Server

  4. To add a GitHub Enterprise account, type your credentials under "Enterprise server address," then click Continue.

    The Sign In button for GitHub Enterprise

  5. If you have configured two-factor authentication for GitHub Enterprise, do one of the following:

    • If you set up 2FA via SMS, retrieve your 2FA code from an SMS message.
    • If you set up 2FA with a TOTP application, generate a 2FA code.

    Then enter your 2FA code in the prompt on GitHub Desktop and click Sign In.

    The 2FA Authentication code field

Authenticating an account on GitHub

  1. Use the File menu, then click Options.

    The Options value in the Settings drop-down menu

  2. In the Options window, select Accounts.

    The Accounts pane in the Options window

  3. To the right of "GitHub.com," click Sign in.

    The Sign In button for GitHub

  4. In the Sign in pane, click Sign in using your browser.

    The Sign in using your browser link

    Warning: Authenticating to GitHub using your username and password is deprecated. We recommend authenticating using the browser instead.

  5. To authenticate to GitHub, type your GitHub.com credentials and click Sign in.

    The Sign In button for GitHub in browser

    Alternatively, if you were already signed in to GitHub, follow the prompts to return to GitHub Desktop to finish authenticating.

  6. If you have configured two-factor authentication (2FA) for GitHub, do one of the following:

    • If you set up 2FA via SMS, retrieve your 2FA code from an SMS message.
    • If you set up 2FA with a TOTP application, generate a 2FA code.

    Then enter your 2FA code in the prompt on GitHub and click Verify.

    The 2FA Authentication code field

  7. After GitHub authenticates your account, follow the prompts to return to GitHub Desktop.

Authenticating an account on GitHub Enterprise

Warning: Authenticating to GitHub using your username and password is deprecated. We recommend authenticating using the browser instead.

  1. Use the File menu, then click Options.

    The Options value in the Settings drop-down menu

  2. In the Options window, select Accounts.

    The Accounts pane in the Options window

  3. To the right of "GitHub Enterprise Server," click Sign In.

    The Sign in button for GitHub Enterprise Server

  4. To add a GitHub Enterprise account, type your credentials under "Enterprise server address," then click Continue.

    The Sign In button for GitHub Enterprise

  5. If you have configured two-factor authentication for GitHub Enterprise, do one of the following:

    • If you set up 2FA via SMS, retrieve your 2FA code from an SMS message.
    • If you set up 2FA with a TOTP application, generate a 2FA code.

    Then enter your 2FA code in the prompt on GitHub Desktop and click Sign In.

    The 2FA Authentication code field

Troubleshooting authentication issues

If GitHub Desktop encounters an authentication error, you can use error messages to troubleshoot.

If you encounter an authentication error, first try signing out and signing back in to your account on GitHub Desktop.

For some errors, GitHub Desktop will prompt you with an error message. If you are not prompted, or to find more information about any error, view the GitHub Desktop log files by using the following steps.

  1. Use the Help drop-down menu and click Show Logs in Finder.
    The Show Logs in Finder button
  2. Select the log file from the date when you encountered the authentication error.
  1. Use the Help drop-down menu and click Show Logs in Explorer.
    The Show Logs in Explorer button
  2. Select the log file from the date when you encountered the authentication error.

Review the troubleshooting information below for the error message that you encounter.

Bad credentials

Error: Bad credentials

This error means that there is an issue with your stored account credentials.

To troubleshoot, sign out of your account on GitHub Desktop and then sign back in.

Empty token

info: [ui] [AppStore.withAuthenticatingUser] account found for repository: node -  (empty token)

This error means that GitHub Desktop is unable to find the access token that it created in the system keychain.

To troubleshoot, sign out of your account on GitHub Desktop and then sign back in.

Repository not found

fatal: repository 'https://github.com//.git' not found

(The error was parsed as 8: The repository does not seem to exist anymore. You may not have access, or it may have been deleted or renamed.)

This error means that you do not have permission to access the repository that you are trying to clone.

To troubleshoot, contact the person in your organization who administers permissions.

Could not read from remote repository

git@github.com: Permission denied (publickey).
fatal: Could not read from remote repository.

Please make sure you have the correct access rights and the repository exists.

This error means that you do not have a valid SSH key set up.

To troubleshoot, see "Generating a new SSH key and adding it to the SSH agent."

Failed to clone

fatal: clone of 'git@github.com:/' into submodule path '' failed
Failed to clone 'src/github.com//'. Retry scheduled
Cloning into ''...
git@github.com: Permission denied (publickey).
fatal: Could not read from remote repository.
Please make sure you have the correct access rights
and the repository exists.

This error means that either the repository that you are trying to clone has submodules that you do not have access to or you do not have a valid SSH key set up.

If you do not have access to the submodules, troubleshoot by contacting the person who administers permissions for the repository.

If you do not have a valid SSH key set up, see "Generating a new SSH key and adding it to the SSH agent."

Unable to read AskPass response

error: unable to read askpass response from '/Users//GitHub Desktop.app/Contents/Resources/app/static/ask-pass-trampoline.sh'
fatal: could not read Username for 'https://github.com': terminal prompts disabled

This error can be caused by multiple events.

If the Command Processor registry entries are modified, GitHub Desktop will respond with an Authentication failed error. To check if these registry entries have been modified, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and navigate to the following locations. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor\
  2. Check to see if there is an Autorun value in either location.
  3. If there is an Autorun value, delete it.

If your Windows username has extended Unicode characters, it may cause an AskPass response error. To troubleshoot, create a new Windows user account and migrate your files to that account. For more information, see "Create a user account in Windows" in the Microsoft documentation.

Further reading

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