Instructions for dummies



may you provide step by step instructions for absolute beginners?
I am just a private webmaster and would like to have my homepage accessible via https.

I read the documentation but it starts witht that I don’t know where to type in this:
$ git clone
$ cd letsencrypt
$ ./letsencrypt-auto --help

I am using Win 8.1 and MacOS X 10.9.5




Unless you have root access (web hosting plan), I’ve made a tutorial for OS X users here:

Before you begin make sure that your hosting plan meets the requirements for Let’s Encrypt


Thanks. I will try it.


Hi, my webhoster said that SSH-access is not included in my account but they could upload an external certificate for me.

Would that be ok to get this working?



Hello @eckart,

Sure, the manual mode explained in the tutorial should work for you in your shared hosting but keep in mind that you should perform this process 4-6 times in a year because the certificates are valid for 90 days. If you agree with this manual process, go ahead :wink:



@eckart If you’re not able to use SSH with your hosting plan, you could execute the domain verification (acme-challenge) via FTP access too. Create the required folders and files with an Texteditor like TextWrangler (free to download and use)


Hi effg
maybe I could ask you for some further assistance.

I installed the software with
git clone
After a couple of minutes my Mac confirmed the software to be installed.

I followed the next step and typed cd letsencrypt in the terminal.
I got the message:
eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$ cd letsencrypt
-bash: cd: letsencrypt: No such file or directory

what went wrong?

Thanks a lot.


Hi @eckart
use Spotlight to locate letsencrypt folder (click the icon at the right corner of your screen). Nonetheless, letsencrypt should be installed in your user folder.

After you’ve found letsencrypt, I suggest to drag the folder into your Terminal window and drop it there. This action won’t move the folder but it will show you the full path in Terminal in order to continue.


Hi effg

thanks, I reached the next step :smile:
But experiencing the next issue, again something was not found.

For better understanding I will copy what the terminal is saying:

eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$ git clone
Cloning into ‘letsencrypt’…
remote: Counting objects: 26015, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (86/86), done.
remote: Total 26015 (delta 47), reused 4 (delta 4), pack-reused 25925
Receiving objects: 100% (26015/26015), 6.85 MiB | 1.08 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (18231/18231), done.
Checking connectivity… done.
eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$ /Users/eckartsmac/letsencrypt cd letsencrypt
-bash: /Users/eckartsmac/letsencrypt: is a directory
eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$ ./letsencrypt-auto certonly -a manual --rsa-key-size 4096 -d -d
-bash: ./letsencrypt-auto: No such file or directory
eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$

(of course instead of I used my url)

So letsencrypt-auto was not found.
With spotlight I found it and doubleclicked it with the result of the following:
another terminal window opened, saying:

Last login: Wed Dec 16 10:53:16 on ttys001
eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$ /Users/eckartsmac/letsencrypt/letsencrypt-auto ; exit;
grep: /etc/os-release: No such file or directory
WARNING: Mac OS X support is very experimental at present…
if you would like to work on improving it, please ensure you have backups
and then run this script again with the --debug flag!

So is this all due to the experimental status?

Did you try with MacOS X 10.9.5?


This is where all starts to fail on you:

eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$ /Users/eckartsmac/letsencrypt cd letsencrypt
-bash: /Users/eckartsmac/letsencrypt: is a directory

You are basically providing the wrong command. There is no need to type the directory before the “cd” command. Try again doing only

cd letsencrypt

And you should be good to go.


seems to make no difference:

eckartsacsimac2:~ eckartsmac$ cd letsencrypt
eckartsacsimac2:letsencrypt eckartsmac$ ./letsencrypt-auto certonly -a manual --rsa-key-size 4096 -d -d
grep: /etc/os-release: No such file or directory
WARNING: Mac OS X support is very experimental at present…
if you would like to work on improving it, please ensure you have backups
and then run this script again with the --debug flag!
eckartsacsimac2:letsencrypt eckartsmac$


Does the file /etc/os-release exist ?


Pay attention to that warning, you shoud add the --debug flag to the command.

Edit: If you are having issues with the official client in Mac OS X you could try this web client you’ll have to use several openssl commands (create the keys and your own CSR (Certificate Signing Request) but should work fine.


I’m using the latest OS X, El Capitan (10.11.2) and besides Letsencrypt, I strongly recommend to upgrade, as Apple implements a lot of security improvements with every new update. But that is another story.

I get the OS X experimental warning from letsencrypt too, but it works smoothly afterwards. Another OS X user from this forum mentioned a problem with letsencrypt, it turned out that a specific library was missing for letsencrypt on OS X. I didn’t experienced this error, bc I have Xcode installed.

But check that --debug mode, what’s the output in Terminal, @eckart ?


Hi, I have no idea how to start the debug mode.

I will give it up now.
I like the idea behind letsencrypt very much. But at the moment the process is to complicated for the mainstream user.

Hopefully there will be an easy way to use letsencrypt in the future. Right now imho only a small group of people are able to install and use the encryption properly.
I will constantly check for updates. Maybe there will be a solution later.

Thanks for assistance.


The client tells you, in the output you quoted, how to start the debug mode–add “–debug” to the command line when you start letsencrypt-auto.