Openkeychain Tutorial

Learn the easiest way to start using PGP

Openkeychain is an open source app that you can start using in 10 minutes. It makes PGP easy to learn and apply. Here’s a brief tutorial…

Step by Step guide to creating your keys, encrypting and decrypting:

  1. Create a new Keychain.

2. Create a new Keychain.  Type a name, e-mail address. It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not, just remember it. It doesn’t matter (for now) if it’s published on keyservers or not, that’s a bit more advanced.

3. Those are your keys. You can have any number of different keys for different matters. Let’s just stick to 1 for this tutorial.

4.  Now let’s encrypt some text… Click on encrypt/decrypt.

5. Click on encrypt text.

6. Begin typing the e-mail with which you created your keys. DO NOT TYPE another e-mail. You’re specifying what keys you’re going to use.

7. Click on the keys you will sign in with.

8. Type your text message.

9. Click on the small share or copy icons at the top right (next to the three dots).  It depends on whether you want to share them directly via a messenger app, or raw text.  Copy the raw text for now.

10. Now let’s decrypt the message.  First you may want to paste it on a text editor to see how your encrypted text looks like. 

To decrypt, click on the 3 horizontal lines at the beginning of the app. Click Encrypt/Decrypt.  

Next, click on “read from clipboard”, and it will decrypt the text on your clipboard.


  • Encrypting files is very similar, click on “Encrypt files”. You may encrypt basically any file (.zip, .jpg, .mp4, .pdf, etc)
  • Your file will look like this: johnsvideo.mp4.pgp or johnsvideo.mp4.gpg.
  • To decrypt just go to encrypt/decrypt and open the file with the phone that has your keys and voila.

Step by Step guide to sharing your private key:

Note: This is one way of using PGP. Be careful who you share your private key with, since they will be able to decrypt anything you encrypted with it.  The purpose of this tutorial is to teach you how to have a shared private key with someone you want to share information with. In order to read your encrypted files or text, the other person needs to have the private key.

  1. Once you have created your keys, click on Keys.

2. Click on the key you want to share.

3. Click on the three dots at the top right, then click “Backup Key”.

4. VERY IMPORTANT: Write down your backup key on a piece of paper, you won’t be able to back up nor retrieve your keys without this.

Once you’ve written the set of numbers correctly, check the box “I have written….”, and either save the backup to share with someone later (and save it yourself as well), or share it directly via a messenger app, e-mail or whatever you want to use. Be mindful you’re sharing your private key, so make sure to delete unused copies. 

5. Now on the other person’s phone you will need to click on Import from file.

6. Find the .sec.pgp file that you shared, click on it.

7. The app will detect them and open this dialog. You will need to click on the keys again.

8. Import all keys

9. Congratulations, you have imported your keys successfully!