Securing Your Passwords with KeePassXC

29 January, 2020

Chances are that you have more than a couple of passwords. The difficulty lies in remembering and wrangling those passwords.

You could trust your passwords to an online password manager. But can you actually trust those services? Assuming you had any trust in them in the first place.

Anyone wanting to keep their password secure on their (Linux) desktops will want to check out KeePassXC. It’s based on the venerable KeePassX password manager, and is one of the many password managers available for the Linux desktop. It’s also one of the easiest to use and most flexible of the bunch.

KeePassXC stores you passwords in an encrypted database on your hard drive. The database is quite small and you can use it with versions of KeePassXC on other operating systems.

Let’s take a look at how to use KeePassXC to store and manage your passwords.

Getting Started

You can download KeePassXC or install it from your Linux distribution’s package manager. You can also grab the source code from KeePassXC’s download page if you’re into compiling your own software.

Once it’s installed, launch KeePassXC by selecting it from a menu or by opening a run dialog box and typing keepassxc.

KeePassXC’s main window

Select File > New Database. You’ll be asked to enter a name for your password store.

Creating a KeePassXC database

Click Continue, then click Continue again on the next screen.

You’ll be asked to enter a master key.

Setting the password for your KeePassXC database

This is the password for KeePassXC. You’ll be asked for this every time you open your password database. Enter the master key, and when prompted enter it again.

Click Done. KeePassXC creates a shell with groups for Internet and email passwords. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a group is. I’ll be talking about them in a moment.

Adding Passwords

To do that, select Entries > Add New Entry.

Adding a password to KeePassXC

There are four fields you need to worry about:

You can also enter the address of the site in the URL field, and some information about it in the Notes text area.

When you’re done, click OK to save the new password.

Managing Your Passwords

If you have a lot of passwords, you should consider putting them into the groups that I mentioned earlier. Groups are just that: sets of passwords for Web applications or services that are similar. Here’s a look at the groups I use in KeePassXC:

My KeePassXC groups

To create a group, select Groups > Add New Group.

Adding a password group to KeePassXC

Adding a password group to KeePassXC

Type a name for the group in the Title field, and optionally select an icon for the group from Icon list. You can add a description of the group in the Notes field. I generally don’t that, nor do I select icons.

When done, click OK.

Add entries to the group by either dragging and dropping them from another group, or by selecting the name of group from the Group dropdown list when you’re adding a password.

Taking It Mobile

What happens if you’re not using your main computer? Or if you’re using a smartphone or tablet? Sure, you can copy or email your password database to those devices, but that becomes a chore if you’re constantly adding new passwords.

If you have an account with an online storage/syncing service, consider saving your password database to a folder that the service syncs. The password database will be available to all of your other devices, as long as sync client for the service that you use is installed on that device.

In case you’re wondering, on my phone I use an app called KeePass DX. It’s small, it’s simple, and has all of the main functions of KeePassXC.

Is That Everything?

No. Just the things that you’ll probably use most of the time. KeePassXC also has a few other functions, including a password generator and the ability to change the encryption algorithm of your password database.

You can also import files from PwManager and KWallet, and export the contents of your password database to a text file or an XML file that KeePassXC can read.

KeePassXC is easy to use and does its job quite nicely. It’s fast and efficient, and makes managing your passwords easy.

Scott Nesbitt