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A set of ruby bindings for the OS X keychain, written using ffi.


$ gem install ruby-keychain

or in your Gemfile:

gem 'ruby-keychain', :require => 'keychain'


The keychain is OS X's secure credential storage mechanism. This library allows access to internet passwords (typically specified as a combination of host, protocol, account (optionally port)) and generic passwords (identified by a service and account).

Working with keychains

Most operations will act on either the default keychain, or the default keychain search list. You can obtain specific keychains with

Keychain.default # the default keychain, usually /Users/<username>/Library/Keychains/<username>.keychain # opens a keychain file
Keychain.create(path, password) # creates a new keychain at the specified path, with the specified password
                                # omit the password to make the keychain prompt the user

Searching for Keychain Items

The top level constant Keychain as well as individual keychain objects have two methods internet_passwords and generic_passwords that return scope like objects. You can do

Keychain.internet_passwords.where(:server => '').all

to return Keychain::Item objects for that server

Keychain.internet_passwords.where(:server => '').first

to return the first Keychain::Item for that server or

Keychain.internet_passwords.where(:server => '').limit(4).all

to return up to 4 Keychain::Item for that server.

generic_passwords behaves similarly but searches the keychain for genereric passwords

You can restrict the search to a specific keychain with

some_keychain.internet_passwords.where(:server => '').all

returns matching Keychain::Item from the specified keychain.

or to an arbitrary list of keychains with, keychain2).all

Finding a Keychain::Item won't prompt the user for a password if the keychain is unlocked. Calling the password accessor method of the item may prompt the user for their password depending on the keychain item access settings.

If you call where multiple times, each successive invocation merges its conditions with the previous set of conditions

Creating keychain items

In the default keychain:

Keychain.internet_passwords.create(:server => '', :protocol => Keychain::Protocols::HTTP, :password => 'secret', :account => 'bob')

# or

Keychain.generic_passwords.create(:service => 'AWS', :password => 'secret', :account => 'bob')

In a specific keychain


by default keychain items are only readable by the application that created them, however when running a ruby script the application is ruby: by default other ruby scripts will be able to read the items (if the keychain is unlocked).

Using keychain items

The Keychain::Item class has accessors for all its attributes, for the full list of attributes see Sec::ATTR_MAP

All strings returned are utf-8 encoded. Be careful not to set attribute values to strings with the ASCII_8BIT encoding as this will cause them to be treated as raw data rather than string. The exception to this is password data which the keychain api defines as being arbitrary binary data. When storing an actual password it is customary to use utf-8. The password data will always be returned as raw binary data

Error Handling

Failed operations will result in Keychain::Error being raised. The original error code is available as the code attribute of the exception. When attempting to insert a duplicate item, Keychain::DuplicateItemError (a subclass of Keychain::Error) is raised instead


Requires ruby 1.9 due to use of encoding related methods. Should work in MRI and jruby. Not compatible with rubinius due to rubinius' ffi implemenation not supporting certain features