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Error: ssh-add: illegal option -- apple-use-keychain

This error means your version of ssh-add does not support macOS keychain integration, which allows you to store your passphrase in the keychain.

The --apple-use-keychain option is in Apple's standard version of ssh-add, which stores the passphrase in your keychain for you when you add an ssh key to the ssh-agent. If you have installed a different version of ssh-add, it may lack support for --apple-use-keychain.

Solving the issue

To add your SSH private key to the ssh-agent, you can specify the path to the Apple version of ssh-add:

/usr/bin/ssh-add --apple-use-keychain ~/.ssh/id_ed25519


  • The --apple-use-keychain option is in Apple's standard version of ssh-add. In macOS versions prior to Monterey (12.0), use -K instead of --apple-use-keychain.
  • If you created your key with a different name, or if you are adding an existing key that has a different name, replace id_ed25519 in the command with the name of your private key file.

Further reading