gist - Man Page

upload code to

Examples (TL;DR)


The gist gem provides a gist command that you can use from your terminal to upload content to



To read a gist and print it to STDOUT

gist -r GIST_ID
gist -r 374130


Before you use gist for the first time you will need to log in. There are two supported login flows:

  1. The Github device-code Oauth flow. This is the default for authenticating to, and can be enabled for Github Enterprise by creating an Oauth app, and exporting the environment variable GIST_CLIENT_ID with the client id of the Oauth app.
  2. The (deprecated) username and password token exchange flow. This is the default for GitHub Enterprise, and can be used to log into by exporting the environment variable GIST_USE_USERNAME_AND_PASSWORD.

The device-code flow

This flow allows you to obtain a token by logging into GitHub in the browser and typing a verification code. This is the preferred mechanism.

gist --login
Requesting login parameters...
Please sign in at
  and enter code: XXXX-XXXX

The returned access_token is stored in ~/.gist and used for all future gisting. If you need to you can revoke access from

The username-password flow

This flow asks for your GitHub username and password (and 2FA code), and exchanges them for a token with the "gist" permission (your username and password are not stored). This mechanism is deprecated by GitHub, but may still work with GitHub Enterprise.

gist --login
Obtaining OAuth2 access_token from GitHub.
GitHub username: ConradIrwin
GitHub password:
2-factor auth code:

This token is stored in ~/.gist and used for all future gisting. If you need to you can revoke it from, or just delete the file.

Password-less login

If you have a complicated authorization requirement you can manually create a token file by pasting a GitHub token with gist scope (and maybe the user:email for GitHub Enterprise) into a file called ~/.gist. You can create one from

This file should contain only the token (~40 hex characters), and to make it easier to edit, can optionally have a final newline (\n or \r\n).

For example, one way to create this file would be to run:

(umask 0077 && echo MY_SECRET_TOKEN > ~/.gist)

The umask ensures that the file is only accessible from your user account.

GitHub Enterprise

If you'd like gist to use your locally installed GitHub Enterprise, you need to export the GITHUB_URL environment variable (usually done in your ~/.bashrc).

export GITHUB_URL=

Once you've done this and restarted your terminal (or run source ~/.bashrc), gist will automatically use GitHub Enterprise instead of the public

Your token for GitHub Enterprise will be stored in .gist.<protocol>.<>[.<port>] (e.g. ~/ for the GITHUB_URL example above) instead of ~/.gist.

If you have multiple servers or use Enterprise and public GitHub often, you can work around this by creating scripts that set the env var and then run gist. Keep in mind that to use the public GitHub you must unset the env var. Just setting it to the public URL will not work. Use unset GITHUB_URL

Token file format

If you cannot use passwords, as most Enterprise installations do, you can generate the token via the web interface and then simply save the string in the correct file. Avoid line breaks or you might see:

$ gist -l
Error: Bad credentials

You can also use Gist as a library from inside your ruby code:

If you need more advanced features you can also pass:

  • :access_token to authenticate using OAuth2 (default is `"~/.gist")).
  • :filename to change the syntax highlighting (default is a.rb).
  • :public if you want your gist to have a guessable url.
  • :description to add a description to your gist.
  • :update to update an existing gist (can be a URL or an id).
  • :copy to copy the resulting URL to the clipboard (default is false).
  • :open to open the resulting URL in a browser (default is false).

NOTE: The access_token must have the gist scope and may also require the user:email scope.

  • If you want to upload multiple files in the same gist, you can:

    Gist.multi_gist("a.rb" => "", "" => "")

  • If you'd rather use gist's builtin access_token, then you can force the user to obtain one by calling:


  • This will take them through the process of obtaining an OAuth2 token, and storing it in ~/.gist, where it can later be read by Gist.gist


If clipboard or browser integration don't work on your platform, please file a bug or (more ideally) a pull request.

If you need to use an HTTP proxy to access the internet, export the HTTP_PROXY or http_proxy environment variable and gist will use it.


Thanks to @defunkt and @indirect for writing and maintaining versions 1 through 3. Thanks to @rking and @ConradIrwin for maintaining version 4.

Licensed under the MIT license. Bug-reports, and pull requests are welcome.


January 2024 Gist manual