Are you struggling to convert your SSH-RSA key to PEM? Look no further. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of this process and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Understanding SSH-RSA and PEM

Before we dive into the conversion process, let’s briefly discuss what SSH-RSA and PEM are. SSH-RSA is a public-key cryptography algorithm used to secure network communication. On the other hand, PEM is a file format that stores cryptographic keys and certificates.

What is SSH-RSA?

SSH-RSA is a widely used public-key cryptography algorithm that provides secure communication over a network. It is based on the Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) algorithm, which uses two keys – a public key and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt data, while the private key is used to decrypt it.

What is PEM?

PEM is a file format used to store cryptographic keys and certificates. It stands for Privacy Enhanced Mail, which was its intended use when it was first introduced. PEM files are base64-encoded ASCII files that contain a header, a footer, and the encoded data.

Why Convert SSH-RSA to PEM?

Now that we know what SSH-RSA and PEM are, let’s discuss why we might want to convert an SSH-RSA key to PEM. One reason could be to use the key with a different application that only supports PEM files. Another reason could be to share the key with someone who only has access to PEM files.

One reason to convert an SSH-RSA key to PEM is to use the key with a different application that only supports PEM files, and the conversion process can be done by running a command line in the terminal window.

Converting SSH-RSA to PEM

Here are the steps to convert an SSH-RSA key to PEM:

  1. Open a terminal window and navigate to the directory where the SSH-RSA key is located.
  2. Run the following command to convert the key to PEM format:


  1. This will create a new file named id_rsa.pem in the current directory, which contains the PEM-formatted key.

Verifying the Conversion

To verify that the conversion was successful, you can use the following command to view the contents of the PEM file:

This should display the PEM-formatted key.

Additional Tips

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when working with SSH-RSA and PEM:

  • Always keep your private key secure and never share it with anyone.
  • When generating SSH-RSA keys, use a strong passphrase to protect your private key.
  • When sharing PEM files, make sure that the recipient knows how to use them.
  • If you need to convert multiple SSH-RSA keys to PEM, you can use a script to automate the process.
  • If you are having trouble converting your SSH-RSA key to PEM, double-check that you are using the correct input file and options.

FAQs for Converting SSH-RSA to PEM

SSH-RSA is a public-key encryption algorithm used in SSH (Secure Shell) protocol for establishing a secure connection between a client and a server. RSA is an acronym for Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, the names of its inventors. The SSH-RSA algorithm uses a pair of keys, one public and one private, to authenticate and encrypt data.

PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail) is a file format that can store cryptographic keys, certificates, and other sensitive data. PEM files can be formatted in plain text or in Base64 encoding and can contain a combination of headers, data, and footers. PEM is used in various cryptographic applications, including SSL/TLS certificates, SSH keys, and S/MIME email encryption.

Why do I need to convert SSH-RSA to PEM?

SSH keys are often stored in the format of OpenSSH, which is not directly usable by other cryptographic systems. Converting SSH-RSA keys to PEM format allows you to use the same key pair across multiple systems and applications that support PEM format. Additionally, PEM format is more widely-used and supported than OpenSSH format.

How can I convert SSH-RSA to PEM?

To convert an SSH-RSA key to PEM format, you can use the OpenSSL command-line tool. Open a terminal or command prompt and type the following command:

openssl rsa -in id_rsa -outform pem > id_rsa.pem

This command will convert the SSH-RSA private key stored in the file id_rsa to PEM format and save it to a new file named id_rsa.pem. You may need to adjust the command if your SSH key is stored in a different file or if you want to convert a public key instead of a private key.

Can I convert a public key from SSH-RSA to PEM?

Yes, you can convert a public key from SSH-RSA to PEM format using the same OpenSSL command-line tool as for converting a private key. The command is slightly different, as shown below:

ssh-keygen -f -e -m pem >

This command will convert the SSH-RSA public key stored in the file to PEM format and save it to a new file named The -e option tells ssh-keygen to export the key, and the -m option specifies the output format.

Are there any risks in converting SSH-RSA to PEM?

The conversion process itself does not pose any significant security risks. However, you should always exercise caution when exporting or sharing cryptographic keys, as they are sensitive information that can be used to decrypt your data or impersonate you. Only export your keys to PEM format if it is necessary for your intended use case, and make sure to keep the original SSH keys secure and well-protected.