gpgdir man page

gpgdir — recursive directory encryption with GnuPG


gpgdir -e|-d <directory> [options]


gpgdir is a perl script that uses the CPAN GnuPG::Interface perl module to recursively encrypt and decrypt directories using gpg. gpgdir recursively descends through a directory in order to make sure it encrypts or decrypts every file in a directory and all of its subdirectories.  By default the mtime and atime values of all files will be preserved upon encryption and decryption (this can be disabled with the --no-preserve-times option).  Note that in --encrypt mode, gpgdir will delete the original files that it successfully encrypts (unless the --no-delete option is given).  However, upon startup gpgdir first asks for a the decryption password to be sure that a dummy file can successfully be encrypted and decrypted.  The initial test can be disabled with the --skip-test option so that a directory can easily be encrypted without having to also specify a password (this is consistent with gpg behavior).  Also, note that gpgdir is careful not encrypt hidden files and directories.  After all, you probably don't want your ~/.gnupg directory or ~/.bashrc file to be encrypted.  The key gpgdir uses to encrypt/decrypt a directory is specified in ~/.gpgdirrc.

Finally, gpgdir can use the wipe program with the --Wipe command line option to securely delete the original unencrypted files after they have been successfully encrypted.  This elevates the security stance of gpgdir since it is more difficult to recover the unencrypted data associated with files from the filesystem after they are encrypted (unlink() does not erase data blocks even though a file is removed).


-e, --encrypt <directory>

Recursively encrypt all files in the directory specified on the command line. All original files will be deleted (a password check is performed first to make sure that the correct password to unlock the private GnuPG key is known to the user).

-d, --decrypt <directory>

Recursively decrypt all files in the directory specified on the command line. The encrypted .gpg version of each file will be deleted.

--sign <directory>

Recursively sign all files in the directory specified on the command line.  For each file, a detached .asc signature will be created.

--verify <directory>

Recursively verify all .asc signatures for files in the directory specified on the command line.

-g, --gnupg-dir <directory>

Specify which .gnupg directory will be used to find GnuPG keys.  The default is ~/.gnupg if this option is not used.  This option allows gpgdir to be run as one user but use the keys of another user (assuming permissions are setup correctly, etc.).

-p, --pw-file <pw-file>

Read decryption password from pw-file instead of typing it on the command line.

-t, --test-mode

Run an encryption and decryption test against a dummy file and exit.  This test is always run by default in both --encrypt and --decrypt mode.

-S, --Symmetric

Instruct gpgdir to encrypt to decrypt files using a symmetric cipher supported by GnuPG (CAST5 is commonly used).  This results in a significant speed up for the encryption/decryption process.

-T, --Trial-run

Show what encrypt/decrypt actions would take place without actually doing them.  The filesystem is not changed in any way in this mode.

-I, --Interactive

Prompt the user before actually encrypting or decrypting each file.  This is useful to have fine-grained control over gpgdir operations as it recurses through a directory structure.

-F, --Force

Tell gpgdir to ignore non-fatal error conditions, such as the inability to encrypt or decrypt individual files because of permissions errors.

--Exclude <pattern>

Instruct gpgdir to skip all files that match pattern as a regex match against each filename.  This is similar to the --exclude option in the standard GNU tar command.

--Exclude-from <file>

Instruct gpgdir to exclude all files matched by patterns listed in file. This is similar to the --exclude-from the GNU tar command.

--Include <pattern>

Instruct gpgdir to only include files that match pattern as a regex match against each filename.

--Include-from <file>

Instruct gpgdir to only include files matched by patterns listed in file.

-W, --Wipe

Use the wipe program to securely delete files after they have been successfully encrypted.

-O, --Obfuscate-filename

Tell gpgdir to obfuscate the file names of files that it encrypts (in -e mode).  The names of each file are stored within the file .gpgdir_map_file for every sub-directory, and this file is itself encrypted.  In decryption mode (-d), the -O argument reverses the process so that the original files are restored.


Overwrite encrypted files even if a previous <file>.gpg file already exists.


Overwrite decrypted files even if the previous unencrypted file already exists.

-K, --Key-id <id>

Manually specify a GnuPG key ID from the command line.  Because GnuPG supports matching keys with a string, id does not strictly have to be a key ID; it can be a string that uniquely matches a key in the GnuPG key ring.

-D, --Default-key

Use the key that GnuPG defines as the default, i.e. the key that is specified by the default-key variable in ~/.gnupg/options.  If the default-key variable is not defined within ~/.gnupg/options, then GnuPG tries to use the first suitable key on its key ring (the initial encrypt/decrypt test makes sure that the user knows the corresponding password for the key).

-a, --agent

Instruct gpgdir to acquire gpg key password from a running gpg-agent instance.

-A, --Agent-info <connection info>

Specify the value of the GPG_AGENT_INFO environment variable as returned by the gpg-agent --daemon command. If the gpgdir --agent command line argument is used instead of --Agent-info, then gpgdir assumes that the GPG_AGENT_INFO environment variable has already been set in the current shell.

-s, --skip-test

Skip encryption and decryption test.  This will allow gpgdir to be used to encrypt a directory without specifying a password (which normally gets used in encryption mode to test to make sure decryption against a dummy file works properly).

-q, --quiet

Print as little as possible to the screen when encrypting or decrypting a directory.


Instruct gpgdir to not recurse through any subdirectories of the directory that is being encrypted or decrypted.


Instruct gpgdir to not ask the user for a password.  This is only useful when a gpg key literally has no associated password (this is not common).


Instruct gpgdir to not delete original files at encrypt time.


Instruct gpgdir to not preserve original file mtime and atime values upon encryption or decryption.

-l, --locale <locale>

Provide a locale setting other than the default "C" locale.


Do not set the locale at all so that the default system locale will apply.

-v, --verbose

Run in verbose mode.

-V, --Version

Print version number and exit.

-h, --help

Print usage information and exit.



Contains the key id of the user gpg key that will be used to encrypt or decrypt the files within a directory.



Set the default home directory.


Set the gpg binary.  Default: "gpg".


Set the default working directory for gpg.  Default: "~/.gnupg".


The following examples illustrate the command line arguments that could be supplied to gpgdir in a few situations:

To encrypt a directory:

$ gpgdir -e /some/dir

To encrypt a directory, and use the wipe command to securely delete the original unencrypted files:

$ gpgdir -W -e /some/dir

To encrypt a directory with the default GnuPG key defined in ~/.gnupg/options:

$ gpgdir -e /some/dir --Default-key

To decrypt a directory with a key specified in ~/.gpgdirrc:

$ gpgdir -d /some/dir

To encrypt a directory but skip all filenames that contain the string "host":

$ gpgdir -e /some/dir --Exclude host

To encrypt a directory but only encrypt those files that contain the string "passwd":

$ gpgdir -e /some/dir --Include passwd

To acquire the GnuPG key password from a running gpg-agent daemon in order to decrypt a directory (this requires that gpg-agent has the password):

$ gpgdir -A /tmp/gpg-H4DBhc/S.gpg-agent:7046:1 -d /some/dir

To encrypt a directory but skip the encryption/decryption test (so you will not be prompted for a decryption password):

$ gpgdir -e /some/dir -s

To encrypt a directory and no subdirectories:

$ gpgdir -e /some/dir --no-recurse

To encrypt root's home directory, but use the GnuPG keys associated with the user "bob":

# gpgdir -e /root -g /home/bob/.gnupg


gpgdir requires that gpg, the Gnu Privacy Guard ( is installed. gpgdir also requires the GnuPG::Interface perl module from CPAN, but it is bundled with gpgdir and is installed in /usr/lib/gpgdir at install-time so it does not pollute the system perl library tree.

See Also



Michael Rash <>


Many people who are active in the open source community have contributed to gpgdir; see the CREDITS file in the gpgdir sources.


Send bug reports to Suggestions and/or comments are always welcome as well.


gpgdir is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), and the latest version may be downloaded from


May, 2007 Linux