If you have no patience or aren’t interested in my debugging process, skip to the last section.
On September 3rd, 2013 GitHub announced a long awaited implementation of two-factor authentication on github.com. Of course I immediately turned that feature on, and you should too.
After setting up 2FA on GitHub, I moved on and forget about it. I imagined that my week would go on merrily, until one fateful day when I jumped into a repo and this happened:
1 2 3 $ git pull remote: Invalid username or password. fatal: Authentication failed for 'https://github.com/codeschool/kraken.git/'
I clearly remembered pulling from this same repository without a hitch a few weeks prior. How could my authentication suddenly fail. That damned osxkeychain credential helper felt like a perfect culprit, since I had issues with it in the past.
Strange. I definitely typed the correct password here.
Remembering that git has a way to talk to Keychain (the credential helper), I thought maybe it had stored the wrong password so I checked the credential helper for signs of life:
1 2 3 4 5 git config --global credential.helper osxkeychain $ git credential-osxkeychain Usage: git credential-osxkeychain <get|store|erase>
Seemed all right. Maybe Keychain had the wrong password stored somehow?
After checking my own Keychain, there was indeed a record in there that
Since this obviously wasn’t working I checked the info for that record:
It all checked out. The password was correct since I had just logged into
github.com itself using it. You can even see that the
binary is allowed to access that credential from Keychain in the Access Control tab:
So it’s not an access problem. What the hell is going on here? I decided to delete the Keychain record for github.com and try to re-submit them.
1 2 3 4 5 $ git pull Username for 'https://github.com': olivierlacan Password for 'https://email@example.com': remote: Invalid username or password. fatal: Authentication failed for 'https://github.com/example/thing.git/'
Still not a fan of my password, uh.
It all makes sense now!
In a last effort, I googled the term “https github error” and found a GitHub Help article on HTTPS cloning errors. Since cloning didn’t work either, I thought it could be useful. And that’s when the answer jumped at me.
If you have enabled two-factor authentication, you must provide a personal access token instead of entering your password for HTTPS Git. You can create a personal access token for accessing GitHub by going to the application settings page.
I willingly setup two-factor authentication on github.com and expected that my single-factor password would still work to authenticate through HTTPS via Git. And I probably glossed over some essential warning copy while doing so.
Creating a new Personal Access Token on GitHub is easy and you get a hash to use as a password. That is what the osxkeychain credential helper saves to use whenever you use HTTPS to clone or pull GitHub repositories.
After the first prompt for credentials (on clone or pull), Git saves the credentials in your Keychain and everything works as it’s supposed to.
Remember to make sure that you do have the keychain credential installed. If you do, you should see this:
1 2 3 4 5 git credential-osxkeychain usage: git credential-osxkeychain <get|store|erase> # to configure git to use it: git config --global credential.helper osxkeychain
If you don’t have the credential helper installed or if you’re using an operating system other than OS X, read GitHub’s new Caching your GitHub password in Git guide.
Outdated credentials stored in Keychain Access for
github.com can also cause issues.
GitHub now has a guide on how to delete outdated credentials
from either the Keychain Access interface or from the credential helper.
PS: I highly recommend using GitHub’s Hub
wrapper for Git since it allows you to clone repos with a simple
git clone rails/rails command. It automatically fetches the full HTTPS URL
for you and uses that for the origin remote.