Articles written by Parakh Singhal

How to Operate Multiple GitHub Accounts from a Single Computer

Developers love to use a single computer for all their needs, whether they are related to office work or work on their personal projects. Since using version control is a cardinal requirement in any software project, personal or professional, it becomes imperative that a requirement arises, whereby, a developer is required to operate multiple GitHub accounts from a single computer.

Consider a scenario that you have two GitHub accounts – one sponsored by your employer and the other one personal and you want to use a single computer to operate both of them. This is possible by virtue of SSH keys and setting remote repositories under the correct SSH key. The following is the broad outline of the article:

1. Setting up SSH keys

2. Setting up a configuration file to use easily co-ordinate among multiple accounts

3. Setting remotes correctly

1. Setting up SSH Keys

SSH keys generated using RSA algorithm, generates a pair of keys – public and private. Per the norm, the private key remains secure with you and never travel over the wire, while public key is distributed for verification. In this case the public key is stored in your GitHub account.

On Window 10 open Git Bash, navigate to C:\Users\YourMSID\.ssh and key in the following command:

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa –b 4096 -C "your personal email address"


This will prompt you to create a new file. Provide a suitable name to the file so you are able to differentiate between various files and hence various keys. Also make sure to enter a suitable passphrase. Providing passphrase further encrypts the private SSH key using a symmetric encryption algorithm, and will render the theft of the private key useless.

Now generate a key-pair for the official account in a manner similar to described above:

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa –b 4096 -C "your official email address"


The next step after the generation of the key-pair will be to copy over the public SSH keys into respective GitHub accounts. I am assuming a generic name generally given to key-pair given to personal accounts. Print on the screen and copy the relevant section:

$ cat


Make sure that you copy the key that starts with “ssh-rsa” and ends with gibberish. Do not copy the email part.

Now navigate to your personal GitHub account and open account settings. Open the “SSH and GPG Keys” section. Click on “New SSH Key”, and copy over the key. Make sure to give a suitable title to remember the computer that the key is present on. You may generate a key on some other computer tied to your personal account. A suitable title will help you connect the key and the originating computer where it came from.

Perform the same routine for the SSH key corresponding to your official account with corresponding account on GitHub.

2. Setting up a configuration file to use easily co-ordinate among multiple accounts

Now to make life easy with multiple keys stored on a single computer, we will create a configuration file containing the details about the hostname which needs to be connected to and the account details with which to authenticate. Create a config file with the following command:

$ notepad config


And copy over the following details:

# Personal
Host personal
User git
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_personalaccount

# Work
Host work
User git
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_workaccount

One very important thing to note here is to provide the hostname as given in the sample configuration and the user as “git” in both the cases.

The next step will be to make sure that SSH agent is running on the machine. Run the following command on bash shell to make it run in the background:

$ eval $(ssh-agent -s) 

This will start the SSH agent of it is not running in the background and will allocate it a process identifier. Now we will add the SSH keys for personal and professional accounts to the agent by the following command:

$ ssh-add id_rsa_personalaccount

$ ssh-add id_rsa_workaccount

If you had provided passphrases while creating the SSH keys, then you will have to provide the corresponding passphrases before adding them to the agent.

In order to make sure that we have indeed added the identities, run the following command:

$ ssh-add –l

Now that we have the keys added in the SSH agent and have the configuration file set up, we are in a position to test the authentication by connecting to GitHub with credentials as described in the config file. Ru the following command:

$ ssh –T personal

The aforementioned command will make ssh module take the config file placed in the .ssh folder by default and use host information defined therein. The result of executing the commands should be something like below:

Hi parakh! You've successfully authenticated, but GitHub does not provide shell access.

Repeat the process for the work account.

3. Setting remotes correctly

Now that we are done setting up the keys and configuration file, and have tested the authentication, we will create a dummy repository and push the changes to it. On GitHub, create a dummy repository, say, with the name DummyRepo. This will be the repository which we will use to upload our changes to, and pull the changes from. Navigate to a suitable location on your hard drive and run the following commands to create a repository mapped to DummyRepo:

$ mkdir DummyRepo
$ git init
$ touch file1.txt
$ printf “This is my file” >; file.txt
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "first commit"
$ git remote add origin git@personal:UserNameOfPersonalAccountAtGitHub/DummyRepo.git
$ git push origin master

If all the setup has been done correctly, then the push of changes to DummyRepo will succeed. Now test the pull from the repository. Create a text file over at the GitHub repository and commit it. Now run the following commands:

$ git pull origin master

This should succeed in pulling the newly created file and commit.

Hope this article was helpful to you.