Access the System Credential Store from R

Platform independent 'API' to access the operating system's credential store. Currently supports: 'Keychain' on 'macOS', Credential Store on 'Windows', the Secret Service 'API' on 'Linux', and a simple, platform independent store implemented with environment variables. Additional storage back-ends can be added easily.

Linux Build Status Windows Build status CRAN RStudio mirror downloads Coverage Status

Platform independent API to access the operating systems credential store. Currently supports:

  • Keychain on macOS (backend_macos),
  • Credential Store on Windows (backend_wincred),
  • the Secret Service API on Linux (backend_secret_service),
  • encrypted files (backend_file), and
  • environment variables (backend_env). The last two are available on all platforms. Additional storage backends can be added easily.



Install the libsecret library, at least version 0.16.

  • Debian/Ubuntu: libsecret-1-dev
  • Recent RedHat, Fedora and CentOS systems: libsecret-devel

The file backend uses the sodium package:

  • Debian/Ubuntu: libsodium-dev
  • Fedora, EPEL: libsodium-devel

OS X and Windows

No additional software needed

R package

Install the package from CRAN:



Configuring an OS-specific backend:

  • The default is operating system specific, and is described in manual page of default_backend(). In most cases you don't have to configure this.
  • MacOS: backend_macos
  • Linux: backend_secret_service, if build with libsecret
  • Windows: backend_wincred
  • Or store the secrets in environment variables on other operating systems: backend_env

Should you need to change the default backend, set the R_KEYRING_BACKEND environment variable or the keyring_backend R option to the backend's name (e.g. env, file, etc.).

Query secret keys in a keyring:

Each keyring can contain one or many secrets (keys). A key is defined by a service name and a password. Once a key is defined, it persists in the keyring store of the operating system. This means the keys persist beyond the termination of and R session. Specifically, you can define a key once, and then read the key value in completely independent R sessions.

  • Setting a secret interactively: key_set()
  • Setting a secret from a script, i.e. non-interactively: key_set_with_value()
  • Reading a secret: key_get()
  • Listing secrets: key_list()
  • Deleting a secret: key_delete()

Managing keyrings:

A keyring is a collection of keys that can be treated as a unit. A keyring typically has a name and a password to unlock it. See keyring_create(), keyring_delete(), keyring_list(), keyring_lock(), keyring_unlock(), keyring_is_locked().

Note that all platforms have a default keyring, and key_get(), etc. will use that automatically. The default keyring is also convenient, because the OS unlocks it automatically when you log in, so secrets are available immediately.

You only need to explicitly deal with keyrings and the keyring_* functions if you want to use a different keyring.

Development documentation

Please see our writeup of some keyring internals, and as always, use the source code.


MIT © RStudio



  • File based backend (#53, @nbenn).

  • Fix bugs in key_set() on Linux (#43, #51).

  • Windows: support non-ascii characters and spaces in key_list() service and keyring (#48, #49, @javierluraschi).

  • Add support for listing service keys for env backend (#58, @javierluraschi).

  • keyring is now compatible with R 3.1.x and R 3.2.x.

  • libsecret is now optional on Linux. If not available, keyring is built without the Secret Service backend (#55).

  • Fix the get_raw() method on Windows.

  • Windows: get() tries the UTF-16LE encoding if the sting has embedded zero bytes. This allows getting secrets that were set in Credential Manager (#56).

  • Windows: fix list() when some secrets have no : at all (these were probably set externally) (#44).


First public release.

Reference manual

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1.3.0 by Gábor Csárdi, 10 days ago,

Report a bug at

Browse source code at

Authors: Gábor Csárdi [aut, cre] , Alec Wong [ctb] , RStudio [cph]

Documentation:   PDF Manual  

MIT + file LICENSE license

Imports assertthat, askpass, openssl, R6, utils, sodium, yaml, filelock, rappdirs, tools

Suggests callr, covr, mockery, testthat, withr

System requirements: Optional: libsecret on Linux (libsecret-1-dev on Debian/Ubuntu, libsecret-devel on Fedora/CentOS)

Imported by REDCapExporter, RKorAPClient, atom4R, ccmReportR, cloudstoR, d4storagehub4R, ecmwfr, epitweetr, geosapi, ocs4R, rstoat, rtodoist, togglr, wiesbaden, zen4R.

Depended on by geonapi.

Suggested by IOHanalyzer, RAQSAPI, blastula, crunch, dm, estatapi, ichimoku, japanstat, meteospain, shinymanager.

See at CRAN