# Why use ASCII armor for file encryption?

GPG and age both offer a --armor option but what is the use case when it comes to file encryption? Surely most channels allow for transmitting binary data nowadays? It seems unnecessary and sounds like it satisfies a rare use case.

I can understand it for sharing key pairs, maybe signatures, but not for file encryption. Even for key pairs and signatures, it feels like there are better ways of doing things like short Base64 keys and sharing signature files like in Minisign.

Sorry if this isn't cryptography related enough. I'm asking here since these are cryptographic tools and there must be some reason why this is a feature.

• openssl enc -a also does base64 only (no readable header&trailer) -- although it is NOT recommended on cryptographic grounds, covered in other Qs. It was designed in the 1990s. Jul 11 at 1:46

Note that e.g. gpg is also used in shell scripts and such. It would be extremely inefficient to first create the file and then use ASCII armor to convert it into printable ASCII.