Here’s how to use Passkeys to authenticate SSH connections.

Passkeys provide secure user authentication, using asynchronous key exchange. When combined with device-hosted services like Windows Hello, users can confirm their identity using face ID, fingerprint or PIN. Created by the FIDO Alliance , they say:

Based on FIDO standards, passkeys are a replacement for passwords that provide faster, easier, and more secure sign-ins to websites and apps across a user’s devices. Unlike passwords, passkeys are always strong and phishing-resistant.​

Passkeys can be used to log in to apps on the web, also apps installed locally on a device, including SSH.

SSH is a core element of the OpenSSH project. Several Unix-like operating systems are supported. Microsoft Windows is also fully supported. Newer versions of OpenSSH support FIDO based authentication, such as Passkeys.


  1. Open a PowerShell terminal.
  2. Install the latest version of OpenSSH for Windows , with winget install Microsoft.OpenSSH.Beta.
  3. Close and re-open PowerShell, then generate a new SSH key pair, with: ssh-keygen -t ecdsa-sk.
  4. Copy the new public key (.pub file) to the remote server, with: cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh 'mkdir -p ~/.ssh && cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys' (change to your user/server).
  5. SSH to the server, for example with: ssh (change to your user/server).

Install The Latest Beta Version of OpenSSH for Windows

SSH is included in Windows as a Windows Optional Feature, see the Microsoft Docs page for more information. As such it is updated as part of Windows Feature Updates.

Find the version currently installed:

1ssh -V

At the time of writing, this returns: “OpenSSH_for_Windows_8.6p1, LibreSSL 3.4.3”. This version does not support Passkeys or FIDO2 hardware security keys, such as YubiKeys. A newer version of OpenSSH must be installed. This will be pushed out by Microsoft as part of a Windows Feature Update, but you can install the latest beta version.

To install the latest version available to the public, the latest beta version:

1winget install Microsoft.OpenSSH.Beta

Then exit PowerShell and re-open it. The SSH version should have changed:

1ssh -V

At the time of writing, this is now: “OpenSSH_for_Windows_9.5p1, LibreSSL 3.8.2”, which supports Passkeys.

Create An SSH Key Pair and Passkey

When you create an SSH key pair, you will also create a new Passkey. Windows will prompt you and guide you through the process, see Microsoft Support > Passkeys .

Use the ssh-keygen command to create a public/private key pair.

The type of key used in this example is “ecdsa-sk”.

A simple example would be:

1ssh-keygen -t ecdsa-sk

You might want to add to this and use the following optional parameters, to make it easier to identify the key pair later on:

  • use -O to specify the application (SSH) and remote server name (in this example, “server21”), example: -O application=ssh:server21
  • use -C to specify a comment, example: -C "Host:ThinkPadX1"

For example:

1ssh-keygen -t ecdsa-sk -O application=ssh:server21 -C "Host:ThinkPadX1"

Follow the on-screen instructions. As you are creating a new passkey, you will see a number of prompts generated by Windows Security, guiding you through the process.

dialog box asking for a PIN or fingerprint

Confirmation that the passkey was saved is shown in the dialog box.

dialog box confirm the passkey was saved

  • follow the instructions in the terminal window
  • enter a specific name for the key pair you are creating, or accept the default values
  • optional, enter a passphrase for the key pair you are creating, or leave blank

If you opted to store the Passkey on your Windows machine, you can find it in Windows Settings > Accounts > Passkey settings.

The ssh-keygen command will generate a public/private key pair. The public key will be stored in the .ssh/ file, and the private key will be stored in the .ssh/id_ecdsa file.

To view the public key, use one of these commands:

This Linux command will be accepted by PowerShell as well as Linux:

1cat ~/.ssh/


1Get-Content $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\

or, in a CMD prompt:

1type $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\

Copy The Public Key To The Remote Server

The public key you just created, ~/.ssh/, must be copied to the remote server. The current version of OpenSSH for Windows does not support the ssh-copy-id command. To copy the .pub key to the remote server, use:

Note, before using one of the examples below, replace same@server21 to the actual user and remote server you are using, for example betty@

This Linux command will be accepted by both Linux and PowerShell:

1cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh sam@server21 'mkdir -p ~/.ssh && cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys'


1Get-Content $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\ | ssh sam@server21 'mkdir -p ~/.ssh && cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys'

or, in a CMD prompt:

1type $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\ | ssh sam@server21 'mkdir -p ~/.ssh && cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys'

Test The Connection

Now you can SSH to the remote server, and you should be able to use Passkey to authenticate.

1ssh sam@server21

Confirm it is you:

screen shot of an SSH connection authenticating with a passkey