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Overview


Password safes are used to keep track of the endless amount of the numerous usernames and passwords that you have to remember.There are a number of password safe applications out there but Information Technology recommends KeePass.

KeePass: a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database.  

 

Personal Windows Computer

Note: if you would like to install KeePass on your Northwestern issued computer, you can do so by selecting it from the Software Center portal in the Start Menu. Once installed, proceed to Step 4 in the "How to set up KeePass".

How to set up KeePass

  1. Download the latest KeePass version 2 at http://keepass.info/download.html

  2. Select the Installer for Windows (2.X)

    1. The Download Now button will take you to sourceforge.net to download the installer. If prompted choose to save it to your Downloads folder.

        

  3. Run the KeePass-2.XX-Setup.exe installer

    1. Keep English or choose your preferred language. Select OK

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    2. Read and accept the License Agreement by selecting I accept the agreement. Select Next


    3. If you would like to change the installation location, do so on this step, otherwise accept the default by choosing Next

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    4. Customize or keep the default Full installation, then choose Next


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    5. Choose to create any shortcuts you want. Be sure to leave the Associate KeePass with the .kdbx file extension checked. Choose Next


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    6. Review the installation and when you are ready, select Install


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    7. Once the installation is finished, choose to Launch KeePass and select Finish


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  4. In the KeePass window select File > New

    1. This will create a new file in which all your passwords are saved and encrypted


  5. You will be prompted to choose a location to save your password file.

    1. We recommend saving this new password database file to the cloud, specifically OneDrive, so you will not loose your passwords in the event of a hard drive failure.

    2. If you have OneDrive syncing your computer's files, you can safely save it to your Documents folder. UNW Computers are fully integrated with OneDrive.

    3. Enter a name for your file and select Save



  6. Creating your Master Password

    1. WARNING: If you forget this password, you will not be able to access anything inside your password safe anymore.

    2. This will be the only password you have to remember, so make it secure, memorable, and unique from all your other passwords. 

    3. Use upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, to make a long passphrase (14+ characters)

    4. Do not write down your master password plainly where someone could steal it.

      1. Not on sticky notes, in text files, email or cell phone notes


  7. After you've made your master password, you can optionally set a name, description, default user name and color for your database.

    1. If most of your accounts are the same username, you can set that as the default.

      1. Example: abjohnson@unwsp.edu 



  8. You may be asked to save an emergency sheet. This will have instructions to access your KeePass.

    1. Unless you have a very secure location to store this (ie. document safe with lock/key), do not write your password on it.

    2. You may also skip this step if desired.


  9. This is the home screen of your new password database. (Feel free to delete the sample entries)

How to add a password

  1. Click the Key Icon or right click on the blank space under one of your folders and choose Add Entry.


     

  2. Fill in the fields described below


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    1. Title: The name of the website. e.g. "The Rock"

    2. User name: The default username will appear here if you entered one. Be sure to use the correct username or email address for each entry.

    3. Password:KeePass will automatically generate a random secure password.

      1. Unless you already have a password for a given entry or want to generate a more complex one, the given one is generally good.  

        1. If you would like to use the generated password make sure to change your actual account to match that password. To reveal it, select the three dots icon


        2. Use the Quality gauge to help make better passwords

    4. URL: Enter in the address of the website. e.g. https://therock.unwsp.edu

      1. TIP: It is recommended just to copy and paste the URL of the website you login to. Sometimes websites will have a "login." before the site name, so copy/paste eliminates that concern.

      2. TIP: Make sure to save the database itself when you close it for the day. (It should prompt you)

Your credentials are now saved. Feel free to add as many passwords as you would like.

How to use a stored password 

Once your credentials have been saved to your database, you can use them to login to sites with the following methods:

  1. Manual Copy + Paste
    1. The first way to sign into an account with KeePass is through right-clicking the entry and selecting Copy User Name, or Copy Password.

    2. TIP: Use the shortcuts:

      1. Ctrl + B to copy the username.

      2. Ctrl + C to copy the password.

      3. Ctrl + V to paste in the login page.


    3.  
  2. Auto-Type
    1. To start, go to your webpage you would like to log into.
    2. Ensure that the Username box is highlighted. (Not the password)

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    3. Open up KeePass.
    4. Click the matching entry. eg. "The Rock"

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    5. Press Ctrl + V.
      1. The username and password should automatically fill in on the currently open webpage.
      2. TIP: There is another shortcut key (Ctrl + Alt + A) that will search your KeePass for the site you are on and try to login for you.
        1. Note: This also requires the Username field to be highlighted.
        2. If you have multiple accounts, it will choose the first match to login with.
  3. Auto-type may not work on all sites, but you can still use the manual method.

Personal Apple/Unix Computer

KeePass Alternatives for Mac/Linux

  1. KeyChain  - Apple-native Password Manager

  2. KeePassXC - KeePass manager for Mac and Linux

  3. See also: Password Managers