How to Use the Ubuntu Password Manager

Your guide to Seahorse, a tool for handling passwords and keys

One curse of the 21st century is all the user names and passwords you have to remember. You can get around the problem by using the same user name and password for every site and application, but this practice poses a major security risk: If a malicious hacker managed to get hold of such a password, that person would have the keys to every site and app you used it for.

If you're running Ubuntu Linux, you have a great tool at your disposal called Seahorse. Seahorse is the interface for the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG), which provides encryption and key management in Ubuntu. Use Seahorse to manage your passwords as well as Secure Shell (SSH) and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) keys within the GNOME key ring.

Instructions in this guide apply to Seahorse on Ubuntu 20.04 but should work on earlier releases.

How to Store Passwords in Seahorse

Seahorse can store passwords to websites you visit regularly. To store passwords, complete the following steps:

  1. Press the Applications icon and enter "Seahorse" in the search field. You'll see an entry for Passwords and Keys. Select it.

    Ubuntu Seahorse search
  2. When the Passwords and Keys window opens, press the plus sign (+) icon to create a new entry.

    Ubuntu Seahorse Passwords and Keys window
  3. A menu of possible entries opens up. Choose Password.

    Ubuntu Seahorse menu with Password highlighted
  4. Another window pops up for you to create your password. Leave the keyring as Login. Then, choose a Description, like the name of the site it's the login for. Then, enter your Password. When everything's set, press Add to create your new entry.

    Add Password popup in Passwords and Keys window
  5. You should automatically be taken to the Logins folder to see your new password. If not, in the navigation pane, under Passwords, select Login.

    You may see a list of links to websites that you've used along with your newly created password.

  6. To view the details stored on that website, right-click the link and then select Properties.

    Ubuntu Seahorse right click password properties
  7. A window opens with information about the entry you selected. You'll see the name that you gave to your login along with the password. Press the key icon to make the password visible. You can copy the password using the Copy button next to the password field and paste it into your browser.

    You also have the option to Delete Password.

    Ubuntu Seahorse password properties
  8. Close the window when you're done.

How to Create SSH Keys

If you connect regularly to the same SSH server (for example, if you own a Raspberry PI computing board), you can create a public key that you place on the SSH server so that you don't need to sign in when you want to connect to it.

To create an SSH key, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Passwords and Keys screen, press the plus sign (+).

    Ubuntu Seahorse Passwords and Keys window
  2. In the dialog box that appears, select Secure Shell Key.

    Ubuntu Seahorse Passwords and Keys screen with Secure Shell key highlighted
  3. In the Description field, type a description for the server to which you're connecting—an email address or a reminder of what the key is for, for example.

    Select Create and Set Up.

    Ubuntu Seahorse create SSH key with Create and Set Up highlighted

    Select Advanced key options to set the encryption type (for example, RSA) and key strength (such as 2048 bits).

  4. Type and verify a passphrase for the SSH key—or don't for password-less login—and select OK.

    New Secure Shell Key popup
  5. In the dialog box that appears, in Server address, type the address of the remote server. In Login name, type the remote sign-in name found on the server and then select Set Up.

    Ubuntu Seahorse SSH server setup
  6. Type the password for the remote user, and select OK.

How to Create PGP Keys

PGP keys enable you to encrypt and decrypt email. To create a PGP key, complete the following steps:

  1. In the Passwords and Keys screen, select the plus sign (+).

    Ubuntu Seahorse Passwords and Keys window
  2. In the drop-down menu, select GPG Key.

    Ubuntu Seahorse Passwords and Keys menu
  3. In the dialog box that appears, in Full Name, type your full name. In Email Address, type your email address. Then, press Create.

    Ubuntu Seahorse create GPG key screen

    Select Advanced key options to set the encryption type and key strength. You can also decide whether you want your PGP key to expire and, if you do, when it will expire.

  4. Enter and confirm the password associated with your key and press Ok.

    Ubuntu Seahorse set GPG password

    This password should not be the same as your email password.

    You can use this key in an email application such as Evolution or Mozilla Thunderbird to encrypt your email messages.