Manage and Sync Your Passwords and One-Time-Passwords on Linux

In this post, you will learn how to manage and sync all your passwords (and one-time-passwords) on Linux, completely for free and without having to trust any third party. This will be done with the help of the standard Unix password manager: pass.


Of course, your passwords won't be stored in plain text. Thus, we need a key to encrypt and decrypt all of your passwords. Pass uses a GnuPG key pair to do that. You can install GnuPG like this:

  • Debian: apt install gnupg
  • Fedora: dnf install gnupg
  • Arch: pacman -S gnupg

You can list all your GPG keys with  gpg --list-keys. In case you don't already have a key, you can create one with gpg --full-gen-key.

Now, you also need to install pass itself:

  • Debian: apt install pass
  • Fedora: dnf install pass
  • Arch: pacman -S pass

To start managing passwords, you need to initialize an empty password store with:

pass init <gpg_key_fingerprint>

You should replace <gpg_key_fingerprint> with fingerprint of your GPG key, which can be obtained by running gpg --list-keys (the long Hex code in the second line). In my case, that is:

pass init 3D5211D0E51A0C396AB417032BF2E9B3FB1972D8

After initialization, a Git repository will be created in your home directory, under ~/.password-store. Hence, you can run any Git command inside of it. Or, even easier, you can access the Git command of the password store from anywhere with pass git.

Manage passwords

Now you can start managing passwords. To add passwords, run:

  • pass insert <name> (insert an existing password)
  • pass generate <name> (generate a new password)
    • pass generate <name> -n (to avoid special characters)
    • pass generate <name> -c (to copy the generated password to clipboard)
    • pass generate <name> <length> (to set the length of the password, default: 25)
  • The <name> can also include directories, e.g.: personal/
  • Use importers in case you want to migrate to pass from another password manager

There are also ways to retrieve your passwords:

  • pass ls (list all password names)
  • pass show <name> (show a specific password)
  • pass show -c <name> (copy a specific password to clipboard)

To change, remove, rename or copy existing passwords use:

  • pass edit <name> (change a password)
  • pass rm <name> (delete a password)
  • pass mv <name> (rename a password)
  • pass copy <name> (duplicate a password)

All the changes will be reflected within the ~/.password-store Git repository, which means you can see all of them with pass git log.

User interfaces

Although accessing your passwords from the command line is not that slow, there is an even simpler way. That is by using the rofi. It can be installed like this:

  • Debian: apt install rofi
  • Fedora: dnf install rofi
  • Arch: pacman -S rofi

Now we need to install a small script, passmenu, to access passwords through rofi. To do that, create a file called /usr/bin/passmenu, make it executable by running sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/passmenu and add the following content:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

shopt -s nullglob globstar

password_files=( "$prefix"/**/*.gpg )
password_files=( "${password_files[@]#"$prefix"/}" )
password_files=( "${password_files[@]%.gpg}" )

password=$(printf '%s\n' "${password_files[@]}" | rofi -dmenu "$@")

[[ -n $password ]] || exit

pass show -c "$password" 2>/dev/null

Once you have added a few passwords, you can now easily copy them into your clipboard with the passmenu command. I strongly recommend setting a hotkey for passmenu. For example in GNOME you can add hotkeys inside the Keyboard settings:

  • Settings 🠖 Keyboard 🠖 Shortcuts 🠖 Custom 🠖 Add
  • Enter passmenu as the "Command"
  • And set a "Shortcut" (e.g. Ctrl + Alt + P)

In case the ROfi menu isn't focused after starting, and hence you can't select passwords, then you might need to disable Wayland (And use X11 instead). This can be done by editing the /etc/gdm/custom.conf file:

sudo sed -i -e 's/#WaylandEnable=false.*/WaylandEnable=false/' /etc/gdm/custom.conf

After editing you need to restart your computer. If you are using a laptop you might run into some issues with touchpad gestures afterwards. This can be fixed by installing the X11 Gestures GNOME extension and touchegg.

There are also some other options to access your passwords from a user interface:

Of course, all of those options require access to your GPG key. So you might want to think twice if you want to store your GPG on your phone!

One-time passwords

With the pass-otp extension, it is also possible to manage your one-time-passwords with pass. It can be installed easily:

  • Debian: apt install pass-extension-otp
  • Fedora: dnf install pass-otp
  • Arch: pacman -S pass-otp

Now you can also add one-time-passwords with pass otp insert <name>. It will ask you to enter a URI. This URI looks something like this, with the secret as a query parameter:


This URI can be obtained from the QR code, that you are supposed to scan with your phone. Just make a screenshot of the QR code and run zbarimg qr-code-screenshot.png on it. This requires you to have ZBar installed:

  • Debian: apt install zbar-tools
  • Fedora: dnf install zbar
  • Arch: pacman -S zbar

The command will return something like: QR-Code:otpauth://totp/service?secret=<secret>. You need to omit the beginning (QR-Code:), when inserting it into pass!

To get the one-time-password, simply run: pass otp <name>.

You can also use pass otp with the previously discussed Rofi menu for quick access. In order to do that we need to make a small adjustment to the /usr/bin/passmenu script. The modified script looks like this:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

shopt -s nullglob globstar

password_files=( "$prefix"/**/*.gpg )
password_files=( "${password_files[@]#"$prefix"/}" )
password_files=( "${password_files[@]%.gpg}" )

password=$(printf '%s\n' "${password_files[@]}" | rofi -dmenu "$@")

[[ -n $password ]] || exit

if pass show "$password" | grep -q '^otpauth://'; then

pass $pass_cmd -c "$password" 2>/dev/null

It will now dynamically run pass show or pass otp based on the type of the selected password.


If you are working on multiple devices, you might be interested in the synchronization of your passwords between them. There are essentially three viable options for that.

1. Using storage mediums

The simplest option would be to use some kind of storage medium, like a USB stick. You don't necessarily need to use an encrypted storage medium to transfer your passwords, since they are encrypted at rest automatically. But you should be aware, that anyone with access to the storage medium can see the list of all your password names, which might not be wanted. Hence, encrypting your disk would still be strongly recommended! To do that you would have to manually copy the ~/.password-store directory to your other devices.

2. With a file syncing service

Of course, you could also use some kind of file synchronization service for that. But again, you should be aware that the names of your passwords are in plain text. Only the passwords itself are encrypted! To do that you would have to add the ~/.password-store directory to your syncing service.

3. Through a Git repository

Since the password store essentially is nothing but a Git repository, my preferred option for syncing is to use a Git remote. For example, you could create a private GitHub repository and upload your passwords to its remote:

pass git remote add origin<user>/<repository>.git
pass git push -u origin master

If, for some reason, git push fails, you might need to force push your changes with git push -f.

You can then download and sync your passwords onto your other device with the git clone and git pull commands.

All passwords are encrypted and hence cannot be read by anyone, who doesn't have the GPG key. But all the password names are still visible (because each password is stored inside a single file: <name>.gpg). That's why I'm using another layer of encryption to hide the file names. That's possible with the help of git-remote-gcrypt. It encrypts entire Git repository remotes. I've written a blog post on how to do that. Essentially, you just have to install git-remote-crypt and modify the remote URL.

Synchronization with phone

Personally, I have decided not to synchronize my password with my phone, because I don't want to store my GPG key on my phone. I'm simply sending passwords to my phone on demand using an encrypted messenger like Session. Most phone apps require you to enter your password only once anyway. But if you still want to do it, you could use Android Password Store or Pass for iOS.

Final words

Once you have set up pass with Rofi and added all your passwords, it's truly amazing. You don't have to trust any third party with your passwords, and you can easily sync it with Git.