Other Authentication Methods
While the API provides multiple methods for authentication, we strongly recommend using OAuth for production applications. The other methods provided are intended to be used for scripts or testing (i.e., cases where full OAuth would be overkill). Third party applications that rely on GitHub for authentication should not ask for or collect GitHub credentials. Instead, they should use the OAuth web flow.
The API supports Basic Authentication as defined in
RFC2617 with a few slight differences.
The main difference is that the RFC requires unauthenticated requests to be
401 Unauthorized responses. In many places, this would disclose
the existence of user data. Instead, the GitHub API responds with
404 Not Found.
This may cause problems for HTTP libraries that assume a
response. The solution is to manually craft the
Via Username and Password
To use Basic Authentication with the GitHub API, simply send the username and password associated with the account.
For example, if you're accessing the API via cURL, the following command
would authenticate you if you replace
<username> with your GitHub username.
(cURL will prompt you to enter the password.)
curl -u username https://api.github.com/user
Via OAuth Tokens
Alternatively, you can use personal access tokens or OAuth tokens instead of your password.
curl -u username:token https://api.github.com/user
This approach is useful if your tools only support Basic Authentication but you want to take advantage of OAuth access token security features.
Working with two-factor authentication
For users with two-factor authentication enabled, Basic Authentication requires
an extra step. When you attempt to authenticate with Basic Authentication, the
server will respond with a
401 and an
X-GitHub-OTP: required; :2fa-type
header. This indicates that a two-factor authentication code is needed (in
addition to the username and password). The
:2fa-type in this header indicates
whether the account receives its two-factor authentication codes via SMS or via
In addition to the Basic Authentication credentials, you must send the user's
authentication code (i.e., one-time password) in the
Because these authentication codes expire quickly, we recommend using the
Authorizations API to create an access token and using that
token to authenticate via OAuth for most API access.
Alternately, you can create access tokens from the Personal Access Token settings page.