The decipher command-line utility converts ciphertext to plaintext.

Example Usage

We list a few examples of the decipher command here to illustrate its usefulness and ease of use. To get started, lets decypt a text file:

  decipher README.cip README.txt

Here Alice wands to decipher a secret message from Bob. Alice knows Bob's secret passphrase and has a copy of his private keyring. To restore the original message content, Alice uses this command:

  decipher -keyring ./keyring.xdm secret-message.cip message.txt

To ensure your ciphertext is not easily revealed, the decipher program takes these precautions:


If your command line does not include the -passphrase filename option, the passphrase is interactively requested and has a maximum length of 4096 characters and symbols. The phrase can be virtually unlimited if obtained from a file. Try to make your passphrases long and unpredictable.


Your secret key is stored in a private keyring. If you lose your keyring, it is impossible to restore your original message content.


If the decipher program appears to halt it may be waiting for your system to generate entropy. Move your mouse or press keystrokes in another window. Once enough entropy is generated, the decipher program will complete.


If simple mistakes are made, an exception message is displayed. For example if you use '-cpher' instead of '-cipher', decipher complains. However, if anything goes wrong inside the decipher engine, the program exits with a simple status code. This precaution is to prevent information leaks about the decipher process.

Option Summary

The decipher command recognizes these options. Click on an option to get more details about how that option works.

Option Description
-authenticate method authenticate with this method: Secret or Public
-chunksize bytes number of bytes in a chunk
-cipher type cipher to decrypt content
-(de)compress automagically (de)compress BZIP and ZIP files
-debug events display copious debugging information
-entropy type increase content entropy
-help print program options
-hmac hash ensure message integrity with this hash
-key hash strengthen the key with this hash
-key-length value cipher key length in bits: 256, 512, 1024, or 2048
-keyring filename add the private key to this keyring
-level value entropy level: 1 (less entropy) to 9 (more entropy)
-list type print a list of supported option arguments
-log format format of debugging information
-mode type mode of decryption
-passphrase filename get the passphrase from this file
-properties filename cipher properties to/from this file
-random hash strengthen random data with this hash
-true-random strengthen deciphering with true random numbers
-verbose print detailed information about the secure content
-version print version information