KeePassX is an easy-to-use tool that helps you store and manage your various passphrases inside an encrypted database file. This file is encrypted to a master passphrase that you create. KeePassX can also generate strong passphrases for your other accounts.
Because this database is encrypted, you can store copies in various places, which makes backup relatively easy. We do not recommend sending your database by email or storing it online where it might be accessed by others, but many KeePassX users keep a copy on their primary computer, a copy on a USB memory stick and a copy on their backup drive.
In the sections that follow, you will learn how to:
Set a master passphrase
Save your newly created password database
Generate a random password for a particular service
Extract passwords from KeePassX when you need them
1.0. Things you should know about KeePassX before you start
If you use KeePassX consistently for a particular account or passphrase, you might not need to remember that passphrase at all. In fact, you never even need to see it. You can simply copy it from KeePassX and paste it into the login or password screen (KeePassX will wipe it from your clipboard memory when you're done). Furthermore, the random passphrases that KeePassX generates are typically much stronger than the ones we come up with ourselves.
In the sections that follow, you will be taught how to install KeePassX, create a master password, save your newly-created database, generate a random password for a particular program, create a backup copy of the database and extract the passwords from KeePassX when needed.
Step 1.Select[Start > All Programs > KeePassX] or click the KeePassX icon on your desktop to activate the the KeePassX menu screen as follows:
Figure 1: The KeePassX Password Safe console
Creating a new password database involves two steps. You must come up with a single, unique and strong master password that you will use to lock and unlock your database of passwords. Then, you must save that password database.
To create a new password database, follow these steps:
Step 1.Select[Database > New database] as follows:
Figure 2: The KeePassX screen with Database > New database selected
This will activate the Master Key screen as follows:
Figure 3: Change Master Key screen
Step 2.Type in the master password you have created into the Master password field. As this password will be used to encrypt your database containing all of your passwords, make sure it's a strong password and that you won't ever forget it. Learn more about how to create strong passwordshere.
Figure 4: Creating a master password
Step 3.Re-type the master password you created into the Repeat password field.
Step 4.Click to see if you have typed (and re-typed) your intended master password.
Important: Remember that if you lose or forget your master password, you will not be able to open the database and to access all of your passwords. Try to ensure that your master password is not only strong (as it will be used to protect all your other passwords), but that you also never forget or lose it.
Step 5. Once you have established your master password, click[OK] to create it.
Congratulations! You have successfully created your secure password database. Now you can begin to fill it up with all your current and future passwords.
The Add Entry screen lets you add account information, passwords and other important details into your newly-created database. In the example that follows, you will be adding entries to store passwords and user names for different websites and email accounts.
Step 1. Select[Entries > Add new entry].
Figure 1: The KeePassX Password Safe screen with Edit > Add Entry selected
This will activate the KeePassX Add Entry screen:
Figure 2: The KeePassX Add Entry screen
Note: The Add Entry screen presents you with a number of fields to be completed. None of these fields are mandatory; information submitted here is largely for your own convenience. It may prove useful in situations where you are searching for a particular entry.
A brief explanation of these different text boxes is presented as follows:
Title: A name to describe the particular password entry. For example: Gmail password.
User name: The user name associated with the password entry. For example: email@example.com.
Password: This feature automatically generates a random password when the Add Entry screen is activated. If you are registering a new email account, you can use the 'default' password in this field. You can also use this feature if you want to change an existing password for one generated by KeePassX. Since KeePassX will always remember it for you, there is no need to even see the password. A randomly generated password is considered strong (that is, difficult for an intruder to guess or break).
URL: The internet site associated with the password entry. For example: https://mail.google.com.
Generating a random password on request will be described in the following section. You can, of course, replace the default password with one of your own. For instance, if you are creating an entry for an account that already exists you will want to enter the correct password here.
Repeat Password: The confirmation of the password.
Notes: Here is where you type in descriptive or general information about the account or site for which you are storing information. For example: Mail server settings: POP3 SSL, pop.gmail.com, Port 995; SMTP TLS, smtp.gmail.com, Port: 465.
Note: Creating or modifying the password entries in KeePassX does not change your actual passwords! Think of KeePassX as a secure electronic address book for your passwords. It only stores what you write in it, nothing more.
Step 2. Once you have filled in your password and other fields in this window, click[OK] to add the entry to your KeePassX entry.
Step 3. To create a new group entry, click[Groups > Add new group].
Figure 3: Creating a new group entry on KeePassX
Step 4.Type in a name to create a new group entry. KeePassX lets you sort your passwords into pre-defined groups. For example: 'Internet' would be a good place to store passwords that relate to website accounts.
Figure 4: Group entry on KeePassX
Step 5.Click[OK] to create a new KeePassX entry group.
Your password entry now appears in your KeePassX database. When a password has expired, it will appear with a red cross next to its name, as shown in the example below:
You can edit an existing entry in KeePassX at any time. You can change your password or modify other details stored in the password entry. It is generally considered good security practice to change a password every three to six months. Note that modifying the password entries in KeePassX does not change your actual passwords. To update the password you need to change it as well in your account settings before changing it in KeePassX.
To edit an entry, perform the following steps:
Step 1. Click[Entries > View/Edit entry] to edit your KeePassX entry associated to the selected account.
Figure 1: Selecting options to edit a KeePassX entry
Step 2.Edit information associated to your selected KeePassX entry.
Figure 2: Editing a KeePassX entry
Step 3.Click[OK] to save your edits.
To change an existing password (that you previously created yourself) for one generated and recommended by KeePassX, please read the following section.
2.5. Generating random passwords for KeePassX entries
Long, random passwords are considered strong in the world of security. Their randomness is based on mathematical principles and cannot simply be 'guessed' by someone who is trying to break into one of your accounts. KeePassX supplies a Password Generator, to help you with this process. As you have seen above, a random password is automatically generated when you add a new entry. This section will describe how to generate one yourself.
Note: The Password Generator can be activated from within the Add Entry and Edit/View Entry screens.
To generate random passwords on KeePassX, perform the following steps:
Step 1.Click[Entries > View/Edit entry] if you want to generate a new password for an existing entry. Alternatively, add a new entry and follow the steps below.
Figure 1: Selecting KeePassX options to edit an entry
Step 2.Click on the [Gen.] button to generate a new password for your selected entry.
Figure 2: KeePassX Edit Entry screen
Step 3.Click[Accept] to accept the new password generated for your selected entry.
Figure 3: Generating a new password on KeePassX
Step 4.Click[OK] to save the new password that was generated for your selected entry.
The KeePassX database file on your computer is denoted by its .kdb file extension. You can copy this file to a USB memory stick. No one else will be able to open the database without the master password.
Step 1. Click[Database > Save database as] from the main screen to save a copy of the database to another location.
Given that a secure password is not easily memorised, KeePassX lets you copy it from the database and paste it onto whatever account or website requires it. For greater security, a copied password will only remain on the clipboard for about 10 seconds, so it will save time to have your account or website already open and running, so that you can paste the relevant password there as required.
Step 1.Right click on the required password entry to activate a drop-down list.
Step 2. Select[Copy password] as follows:
Figure 1: Coping a KeePassX password for a selected entry
Step 3. Go to the related account or site and paste the password into the appropriate field:
Figure 2: A Gmail Account displaying a pasted password
Tip: For efficient copying, pasting and switching windows, use the keyboard shortcuts. Press and hold the Ctrl key, then press C to copy a password. Press and hold the Ctrl key, then press V to paste that password. Press and hold the Alt key, then press the tab key to switch between open programs and windows.
Note: By using KeePassX all the time, you never actually have to see or know what your password is. The copy/paste functions take care of moving it from the database to the required window. If you use the Random Generator feature and then transfer this password to a new email account registration process, you will be using a password that you have never seen in plain view. And it still works!
Q: On the outside chance that I forget my master password, is there anything I can do to access retrieve my saved passphrases?
A: Nope. There is nothing you can do in that situation. To prevent this from happening, you could use some of the methods for remembering a password or passphrase that are described in the Create and maintain strong passwords guide.
Q: And if I uninstall KeePassX, what will happen to my passwords?
A: The program will be deleted from your computer, but your database (stored in a .kdbx file) will remain. You can open this file at any time in the future if you install KeePassX again.
Q: I think I accidentally deleted the database file!
A: Hopefully you made a backup beforehand. Make sure you haven't simply forgotten where you stored the file in the first place. Search your computer for a file with a .kdbx extension. If you really have deleted it, and if you act quickly, you may be able to use recovery software to restore the file.