Is it possible to determine, given a PGP message that you can already decrypt, to determine which other PGP keys that message has also been encrypted for?

1 Answer 1


First of all, although you used , I assume you will actually be using GnuPG. Otherwise, fetch it - it's free software. Although PGP will probably also have similar functionality.

Hidden Recipients

It depends. If the sender included the recipient's key fingerprints, you can retrieve them; otherwise (if encrypted using the --hidden-recipient option) GnuPG has to test all your private decryption keys against the message.

Listing (non-Hidden) Recipients

If the recipients are included, GnuPG will list them when set to verbose mode (--verbose). To prevent GnuPG from actually decrypting the message, add --list-only. The relevant lines are the ones starting with gpg: public key is.

This will output public subkeys, which you have to resolve again using gpg --list-keys [key-id].

A complete command line to retrieve the recipients from a message:

cat message.pgp | LANG=C gpg --verbose --list-only 2>&1 | grep 'gpg: public key is'

If you even want to automatically resolve subkeys, additionally pipe through cut and xargs:

cat message.pgp | LANG=C gpg --verbose --list-only 2>&1 | grep 'gpg: public key is' | cut -d' ' -f 5 | xargs gpg --list-keys

LANG=C is used to enforce English localization, so grepping will not fail for other languages.

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