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password-manager - temporarily saves passwords to the clipboard

Project description


pwclip is a password management tool. It’s main target is having fast and comfortable access to passwords by storing them for a variable time in the systems clipboard (copy/paste buffer). It uses either GnuPG2 or OpenSSL (converted to GPGSM) keys for cryptographic operations. It also works with yubikey’s challenge-response to generate uniq HMAC-SHA1 hashes as well.

The main feature is the pwcli/pwclip mode which provides easy access to the ~/.passcrypt file. That file is used by default as password storage. The program is executed in gui mode when pwclip is called and in cli mode when pwcli is called respectivly. It creates the ~/.passcrypt file which is gpg encrypted text using either the value of GPGKEYS from the users environment as gpg encryption recipients. On startup it lookes for a ~/.pwd.yaml file which is merged with the already known passwords from the ~/.passcrypt file if there already is one. All entrys in the ~/.passcrypt file will be overridden by entrys from the ~/.pwd.yaml file.

The second operating mode is for operating on yubikeys to generate uniq responses which might be used as passwords while they can be generated by that exact yubikey only. The first yubikey found on the system and the first slot, configured with (HMAC-SHA1) challenge-response, will be used. For that function Windows is supported (see “Install” section).

To catch user input python’s Tk (tkinter) library is used to create a simple password input window. The appropriate response is saved for only 3 seconds by default to not have it exposed as soon as it’s used. The utility also supports the input of any integer which is then used as timer. Otherwise the environment is searched for PWCLIPTIME and uses the value of that environment variable as timer. The timer is used as time in which the received password stays in the paste buffer bevore its replaced by the previously copied value. As you may see there is an optional commet which is used as text notification displayed on the screen if set. Therefor python3’s gi notify2 is used which is another reason for discontinuing python2 support.

I would encourage you to bind pwclip to a shortcut within your X-Environment to have access to your passwords at any time. On Windows-Systems you need to create a link for it somewhere. When editing that link you may set a keyboard shortcut (could not find a nicer solution by now). The target for that link then whould be “%PYTHONINSTALLDIR%\scripts\pwclip.exe”.

I’ve been trying my best to keep the passwords from unwanted access BUT i do !NOT GUARANTEE! that the passwords handled during runtime are safe from other users access (especially “root” on linux systems - help on that is very welcome) - please be aware of that!

Since version 1.2 openssl keys are supported. For the use with pwclip they will be converted to gpg-keys automaticly and gpgsm is used instead of gpg - openssl is not used for en/decryption to be precisely.

The ~/.pwd.yaml as well as the ~/.passcrypt file is assembled as a list of one or more users which should be named like the username used for current system login. You may have more than one users passwords in the passcrypt but any user who can store passwords also is able to read password stored for other users in that file. It is just of use for visual kategories if you have stored passwords for different systems users sharing the same passcrypt file. As an example: A person called “Andrew” has a username called “bob”. On some other machine he has a username called “cat” and he uses SSH for both of them. The shared passcrypt file would be assembled like the attached YAML-Format section. If so providing -u or -A when beeing logged in as “bob” or “cat” respectivly may be omitted. In the following example both, “bob” and “cat” have an entry called ssh. If -A is used in that case the entry corresponding to the logged-in user is prefered. If in doubt you’re able to read the crypt file using “gpg -d ~/.passcrypt” as well (assuming the correct gpg-key is present).



- ssh:

- $om3(rypt!cPass

- DoNotForgetSomethingReminder

- othertool:

- 0th3r(rypt!cPass

- ssh:

- $om30ther(rypticPass


On Windows you need to install Python3 from first. On most Linux distributions python will be part of the system. With Python installed, you can install the pwclip package from the Python-Package-Index (pyPI) by running:

pip3 install pwclip

and installing the dependencies (not managed by pip) manually.

Installing from source

To install this package from a source distribution archive, do the following:

  1. Extract all the files in the distribution archive to some directory on your system.
  2. In that directory, run:

python install

Installing via apt

curl | apt-key add - apt-get update apt-get install python3-pwclip


Although is was planed as GUI-Program it’s also possible to be executed from terminals. For Windows, Linux and OSX there is an appropriate executable packed which might be executed like the following examples will show:


If there is an environment variable called GPGKEYS it will use those keys to encrypt on changes to the password file. To list the password file you may use the list switch followed by optional search pattern like:

pwcli -l


pwcli -l $PATTERN

as you can see the yaml format tends to be used for multiple user names to better manage large lists. By default the current users entrys will be listed only. To have them all listed (or searched for by the above pattern example) use:

pwcli -A -l $PATTERN

To one-shot convert a key/cert pair in openssl x509 format, read passwords from passwords.yaml and list them:

pwcli -Y passwords.yaml --cert ssl.crt --key ssl.key --ca-cert ca.crt -l


The YKSERIAL environment variable is used if found to select the yubikey to use if more than one key is connected. Otherwise the first one found is chosen. Likewise it also accepts an option:

pwcli -y $YKSERIAL

To have it wait for a specific time like 60 seconds (bevore resetting the paste buffer to the previously copied value) the PWCLIPTIME environment variable is used or also the command accepts it as input:

pwcli -t 60 -l somename

Most of the options may be combined. For more information on possible options in cli mode please see:

pwcli --help


For the GUI-Mode just use one of the following commands, also accepting most of the commandline arguments:




When using the yubikey challenge-response mode there is a bug in the usb_hid interface. This is because of python2 => 3 transition, most likely and can be fixed by executing the following command:

sudo vi +':107s/\(.* =\).*/\1 response[0]/' +':wq' /usr/local/lib/python3.5/dist-packages/yubico/


In line 107 of the file


the ord() coversion of the response:

r_len = ord(response[0])

needs to be replaced by:

r_len = response[0]


I hope that this might be somewhat of help or at least be inspiring for own ideas. You’re alway welcome to leave me a message for reviews or feature requests as well as bug reports: <>

  • Python3 developers for the IMHO almost perfect parser and language
  • for hosting endless threads of problem & trubleshooting issues
  • Pyperclip for the excellent Windows & OSX clipboard code
  • Conrad Parker for xsel as linux copy/paste backend
  • Yubico (cheap & solid HW-Security-Modules) & python-yubico developers
  • GNU Privacy Guard (basic kryptography) & python-gnupg developers
  • SonicLux for testing and telling me that a final version must not be 0.3.3 :D


1.4.3 (current)

Released: 2018-05-29

  • fixed non existent variable reference
  • fixed typo in readme and minor updates
  • fixed stdout printing function for cli mode
  • lib.system.clip updated as well as corresponding changes in cmdline
  • updated “see also” and “credits” section in manpage
  • fixed some timeouts and error messages when using scp without a connection


Released: 2018-05-20

  • minor readme update for multi user & non-uniq entrys
  • reimplemented windows compatibility
  • many minor changes related to import errors if on windows so many libs have been changed to comply again
  • readded dependency for wget & yubico
  • first release with some automated testing


Released: 2018-05-20

  • obviously fixed and updated readme =)
  • fix bug that caused pwclip to crash instanly in some cases
  • fixed filerotate function wich now just uses shutil.move to set filetimes correctly and now iterates one counter more
  • fixed repitition in gui mode if no entrys are received or given pattern cannot be found in received entrys
  • fixed bug in password printing function (-o) and made it responde quicker
  • replaced findentry function with inline entry matchers


Released: 2018-05-11

  • fixed error messages if entry to be deleted cannot be found
  • cleaned up code resided from merge

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