To keep your account secure, you must authenticate before you can access certain resources on GitHub. When you authenticate to GitHub, you supply or confirm credentials that are unique to you to prove that you are exactly who you declare to be.
You can access your resources in GitHub in a variety of ways: in the browser, via GitHub Desktop or another desktop application, with the API, or via the command line. Each way of accessing GitHub supports different modes of authentication.
- Username and password with two-factor authentication
- Personal access token
- SSH key
You can authenticate to GitHub in your browser in different ways.
- Username and password only
- You'll create a password when you create your user account on GitHub. We recommend that you use a password manager to generate a random and unique password. For more information, see "Creating a strong password."
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) (recommended)
- If you enable 2FA, we'll also prompt you to provide a code that's generated by an application on your mobile device or sent as a text message (SMS) after you successfully enter your username and password. For more information, see "Accessing GitHub using two-factor authentication."
- In addition to authentication with a mobile application or a text message, you can optionally add a secondary method of authentication with a security key using WebAuthn. For more information, see "Configuring two-factor authentication using a security key."
You can authenticate with GitHub Desktop using your browser. For more information, see "Authenticating to GitHub."
You can authenticate with the API in different ways.
- Personal access tokens
- In limited situations, such as testing, you can use a personal access token to access the API. Using a personal access token enables you to revoke access at any time. For more information, see "Creating a personal access token."
- Web application flow
- For OAuth Apps in production, you should authenticate using the web application flow. For more information, see "Authorizing OAuth Apps."
- GitHub Apps
- For GitHub Apps in production, you should authenticate on behalf of the app installation. For more information, see "Authenticating with GitHub Apps."
You can access repositories on GitHub from the command line in two ways, HTTPS and SSH, and both have a different way of authenticating. The method of authenticating is determined based on whether you choose an HTTPS or SSH remote URL when you clone the repository. For more information about which way to access, see "About remote repositories."
You can work with all repositories on GitHub over HTTPS, even if you are behind a firewall or proxy. Every time you use Git to authenticate with GitHub, you'll be prompted to enter your credentials to authenticate with GitHub, unless you cache them with a credential helper. When Git prompts you for your password, enter your personal access token (PAT) instead. Password-based authentication for Git is deprecated, and using a PAT is more secure. For more information, see "Creating a personal access token."
You can work with all repositories on GitHub over SSH, although firewalls and proxys might refuse to allow SSH connections. Using SSH requires you to generate an SSH public/private keypair on your local machine and add the public key to your GitHub account. Every time you use Git to authenticate with GitHub, you'll be prompted to enter your SSH key passphrase, unless you've stored the key. For more information, see "Generating a new SSH key and adding it to the ssh-agent."
To use a personal access token or SSH key to access resources owned by an organization that uses SAML single sign-on, you must also authorize the personal token or SSH key. For more information, see "Authorizing a personal access token for use with SAML single sign-on" or "Authorizing an SSH key for use with SAML single sign-on."
GitHub issues tokens that begin with a prefix to indicate the token's type.
|Token type||Prefix||More information|
|Personal access token||"Creating a personal access token"|
|OAuth access token||"Authorizing OAuth Apps"|
|User-to-server token for a GitHub App||"Identifying and authorizing users for GitHub Apps"|
|Server-to-server token for a GitHub App||"Authenticating with GitHub Apps"|
|Refresh token for a GitHub App||"Refreshing user-to-server access tokens"|