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. We show you how to 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 use the search function to look for "Seahorse." You'll see an entry for Passwords and Storage. Select it.

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

    Ubuntu Seahorse running
  3. A menu of possible entries will open up, choose Password.

    Ubuntu Seahorse new menu
  4. Another window will pop 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.

    Ubuntu Seahorse create password
  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 will open with info 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'll also have the option to Delete Password.

    Ubuntu Seahorse password properties
  8. You can easily Copy the password using the button next to the field and paste it into your browser. 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. One the main screen, press the plus sign (+).

    Ubuntu Seahorse running
  2. In the dialog box that appears, select Secure Shell Key.

    Ubuntu Seahorse new menu
  3. In the dialog box that appears, in Description, type a description for the server to which you're connecting (for example, an email address or a reminder of what the key is for).

    Ubuntu Seahorse create SSH key

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

  4. Select Create and Set Up.

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

    Ubuntu Seahorse set SSH password
  6. In the dialog box that appears, in Server address, type the address of the remote server.

    Ubuntu Seahorse SSH server setup

    In Login name, type the remote sign-in name found on the server, and then select Set Up.

  7. 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 main screen, select the plus sign (+).

    Ubuntu Seahorse running
  2. In the drop-down menu, select GPG Key.

    Ubuntu Seahorse new 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

    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. When prompted, type 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.