How does one send an encrypted email with PGP, when he only has the recipient's fingerprint?

I am already sending emails using PGP, but I've just pulled a contact's PGP fingerprint who I need to email off Twitter. Up until this point, I've only worked with the full public key file.

How do I pull the entire public key from a simple fingerprint such as this one 01ECFFDFC3C2F3CC?

1 Answer 1


You cannot reconstruct an OpenPGP key based on it's fingerprint. The fingerprint is a hash value of the public key, so calculating the fingerprint of a key is a one-way operation.

But: if somebody only distributes his key's fingerprint, he will almost certainly have distributed his public key on the key server network, from where you can pull it. Given you use GnuPG, the most wide-spread implementation of OpenPGP, use

gpg --recv-keys 01ECFFDFC3C2F3CC

to load the key. You should also be able to use an arbitrary graphical user interface for this operation, or load it from some key server's web site (you'll have to prefix 0x here for key IDs, thus query for 0x01ECFFDFC3C2F3CC.


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