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Convert a base64 private key (pem) .pkey to a .ppk file for Putty

You can convert a base64/pem key, used by OpenSSL, or OpenSSH, to the Putty PPK format. The conversion requires OpenSSL, OpenSSH, and Putty.

Setp 1: Deciphering the key (if pertinent)

If your private key is encrypted, e.g. if you used Keybot, you will first need to decipher it:

openssl rsa -in encrypted_key.pkey -out decrypted_key.key

You will be prompted for the password. In case of error, a message will describe an password or decryption issue.

Setp 2: Securing the key file

To prevent security risks, apply appropriate permissions on the key file. Without that, ssh-keygen will refuse to work on the file.

chmod 600 decrypted_key.key

Step 3: Pre-converting the key without defining a password

You will need to pre-convert the key to be ready to be converted by Puttygen. When a password prompt appears, you will need to leave it empty, by pressing the enter key twice.

ssh-keygen -p -f decrypted_key.key

Step 4: Convert the key to PPK

You then need to convert the key to PPK:

If you use the unix cli binary:

puttygen decrypted_key.key -O private -o putty_key.ppk

You can also generate a public key for your SSH servers, using one of the two following commands, depending on your server:

puttygen decrypted_key.key -O public-openssh -o
puttygen decrypted_key.key -O public -o

If you use the Windows binary, you will need to use the graphical tool Puttygen:

  • Open Puttygen, then go to the menu Conversions - Import key
    Puttygen - Main window - Conversions - Import key
  • Select your private key file
    Puttygen - File selection dialog
  • Your key has now been imported in Puttygen.
    Puttygen - Main window - Imported key
  • In theActions section, click on Save private key.
    Puttygen - Main windwow - Save private key
  • Choose the name and path to your new PPK file and save it.
    Puttygen - File selection dialog
  • Then click on Save public key.
    Puttygen - Main window - Save public key
  • Choose your public key file name and path, and save it.
    Puttygen - File selection dialog

See also