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Password Safe: encrypted password management

I have over 50 usernames and passwords that I use for programs and websites. Until now, I've always stored all these in a text file inside a TrueCrypt volume. To find the password to a single site, I had to run TrueCrypt and mount my encrypted volume. TrueCrypt loads a driver to mount the volume, so you need administrative priveleges to run it. This may be fine for your personal computer, but may not be an option on public machines. Another downside is that I had to open the text file, exposing all the credentials to any screengrabbers or malware copying files from RAM.

I decided to replace my primitive text file password management system with an actual password manager: Password Safe, created by security expert Bruce Schneier and now maintained by the open-source community. The software functions as portable software, so you can put it on a USB drive and run it from any computer. It doesn't require any administrative privileges either. The entire database of credentials is encrypted while the program is running, and credentials are only decrypted and copied to the clipboard one at a time, as you use them.

You create a Password Safe Database, which is the encrypted vault of your credentials. You then set your Safe Combination, the master password which is the key to the encrypted vault. Add your credentials using a simple form, and then they're available to use for your program access or web browsing needs.

To add an entry to your encrypted database, click the Add Entry button from the main window. You can categorize entries into Groups (essentially folders, labels, or tags). If a website has a secret question and answer, I usually put this in the Notes field. To have Password Safe create a password for you, click the Generate button. If you store the URL for a site, you can use the Browse to URL feature that will launch the site in your browser.

From the main screen, you can see a list of your entries and perform the many functions of Password Safe. I'm using the Classic Toolbar; you can toggle between the New and Classic toolbars on the View menu.

For a quick reference of the available functions, open the Edit menu. Functions include using Find to search for entries, browsing to the URL (opens the site in your browser), copying the username or password to the clipboard, and performing Autotype (automatically enters the username and password into the webpage's login form).

I've found that the Autotype feature of Password Safe works best like this:
  1. In Password Safe, click the account you want to open, then click B to Browse.
  2. In your browser, click in the site's username field
  3. Press Alt+Tab to switch to PasswordSafe
  4. In Password Safe, click A to Autotype


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You can see all my book reviews on my Goodreads profile, and subscribe to my Goodreads RSS feed to be notified of new reviews. I also intend to keep blogging about WordPress, web design, and web-related topics on my OptimWise blog, which also has an RSS feed.

Would you miss this blog if I discontinued it? Please leave a comment.