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Password Safe Preferences


Like many applications, Password Safe allows you to configure its behaviour and appearance to best suite your taste and needs. Many applications store such preferences in the Windows "registry", as a matter of convention and convenience. Previous versions of Password Safe used the registry as well, but this has proven to be problematic for the following reasons:

Password Safe has a number of preferences, each with a reasonable default value. When a user changes the configuration to a non-default value, the new value is store by Password Safe.

Password Safe defines preferences as security-related or non-security related. The former are kept in the database, encrypted with the same key as the user's data.

Non-security-related preferences are kept in a configuration file, pwsafe.cfg. This file is in XML format, with sections per host machine and per user, so that the file may be shared between different users, and across different machines.

By default, pwsafe.cfg is kept in the same directory as the pwsafe.exe executable program. If, however, the PWS_PREFSDIR environment variable is set, pwsafe will use the configuration file stored there. This is useful for cases where write permissions to the pwsafe.exe install directory is restricted (See also the description of the -g option in the Command Line Arguments Section).

The following tables describes the configuration items. Most of them are configurable via the "Manage → Options" dialog box. As we use XML to save these valies, field names are case sensitive. Preferences stored in the "pwsafe.cfg" file apply to all open databases. Those stored in the database apply only to that database. In Windows Vista or Windows 7, the pwsafe.cfg file can be found in the following directory: "C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\PasswordSafe" and in Windows XP, it can be found in: "C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\PasswordSafe". Note both directories may be hidden and Folder Vew properties may need to be modified in order to be able to view it. Obsolete preferences are not listed.

Note that only non-default preference values are stored in the configuration file or database.

Note: Do NOT modify any of the preferences in the pwsafe.cfg file manually, as this may cause unexpected or unpredictable results. Whilst we have made every effort to verify any preference we read in, we cannot guarantee that manually edited values will not cause a problem.


Boolean (true ('1')/false '(0')) preferences

Preference Default Where stored Comment
AlwaysOnTop false pwsafe.cfg Main window always on top
ShowPWDefault false database Password is displayed by default in Add/Edit
ShowUsernameInTree true database Username is displayed in Tree View
ShowPasswordInTree false database Password is displayed in Tree View (requires Username to be displayed)
ShowNotesDefault false database Show Notes in Add and Edit
ShowNotesAsToolTipsInViews false pwsafe.cfg Show an entry's Notes as a tool tip in both Tree and List views (only the first 250 characters will be displayed)
SortAscending true database The last sort direction in List View (ascending or descending)
UseDefaultUser false database Use the default user text preference when adding a new entry
SaveImmediately true database Save database after every Add or Edit
PWUseLowercase true database Password generation policy - use lower case characters
PWUseUppercase true database Password generation policy - use upper case characters
PWUseDigits true database Password generation policy - use numbers
PWUseSymbols true database Password generation policy - use symbols
PWUseHexDigits false database Password generation policy - generate a password with only hexadecimal characters (always an even number)
PWUseEasyVision false database Password generation policy - use Easy-Vision characters so that one character isn't mistaken for another e.g. number 0 (zero) and letter O (capital O) etc.
PWMakePronounceable false database Password generation policy - convert generated passwords to be more pronounceable
dontaskquestion false pwsafe.cfg Don't ask for confirmation when copying password to clipboard
deletequestion false pwsafe.cfg Don't ask for confirmation when deleting a single entry
DatabaseClear false pwsafe.cfg Lock database on minimize, which implies clear database from memory
QuerySetDef true pwsafe.cfg Ask user each time they add an entry whether to use the Username for all new entries
UseNewToolbar true pwsafe.cfg Use New or Classic toolbar
UseSystemTray true pwsafe.cfg Put Password Safe icon in Windows System Tray
LockOnWindowLock true pwsafe.cfg Lock Password Safe database when the user locks their Windows session
EscExits true pwsafe.cfg The ESC key will close the database and exit Password Safe (if the System Tray is not being used)
HotKeyEnabled false pwsafe.cfg True if the user has defined a Hot Key to get quick access to Password Safe
MRUOnFileMenu true pwsafe.cfg Most recently used databases are shown in the File menu or in in their own sub-menu from the File menu
MaintainDateTimeStamps false database Entry last access times are recorded, if the database is in Read/Write mode
SavePasswordHistory false database Save entry's old passwords when a new password is assigned
BackupBeforeEverySave true pwsafe.cfg Rename current database following the Backup settings before saving any changes to it
PreExpiryWarn false pwsafe.cfg Warn user on database open if there are any entries with expired or soon to expire passwords
ExplorerTypeTree false pwsafe.cfg Show groups first in tree view
ListViewGridLines false pwsafe.cfg Show grid lines in list view
MinimizeOnAutotype true pwsafe.cfg Minimize Password Safe during AutoType. Database may also be locked depending on the setting to lock it on minimize
ShowToolbar true pwsafe.cfg Show Toolbar
ShowDragbar true pwsafe.cfg Show Dragbar
ShowFindToolBarOnOpen true pwsafe.cfg Show the Find toolbar when Password Safe starts. This is determined by the state of this toolbar when Password Safe was last ended
DefaultOpenRO false pwsafe.cfg By default, set the Read-Only checkbox during the open of databases
MultipleInstances true pwsafe.cfg Allow multiple instances of password Safe to be started. Chnage this value will require Password Safe to be restarted to take effect.
ClearClipboardOnMinimize true pwsafe.cfg Clear the clipboard of Password Safe information on minimize
ClearClipboardOnExit true pwsafe.cfg Clear the clipboard of Password Safe information when Password Safe ends
NotesWordWrap true pwsafe.cfg Note will be wrapped in its display area during Add/Edit
LockDBOnIdleTimeout true database Lock database if the user has not used the PC for a number of minutes. See "IdleTimeout" integer preference for the threshold value in minutes
HighlightChanges true pwsafe.cfg Highlight changed unsaved entries in blue
HideSystemTray false pwsafe.cfg Hide the Password Safe System tray icon. Only able to be set if the user has already set a Hot Key
UsePrimarySelectionForClipboard false pwsafe.cfg Determine which clipboard to use (Linux only)
CopyPasswordWhenBrowseToURL false database Copy the entry's password to the clipboard when invoking the entry's "Browse to URL"

Numerical preferences

Preference Default Where stored Min Max Comment
column1width n/a pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a The width of the first column in the List View when Password Safe was last exited
column2width n/a pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a The width of the second column in the List View when Password Safe was last exited
column3width n/a pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a The width of the third column in the List View when Password Safe was last exited
column4width n/a pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a The width of the fourth column in the List View when Password Safe was last exited
sortedcolumn 0 pwsafe.cfg 0 15 Previous column used to sort the List View
PWDefaultLength 12 database 4 1024 Default password length
maxmruitems 4 pwsafe.cfg 0 20 Number of most recently used databases saved in the File menu
IdleTimeout 5 database 1 120 Threshold in minutes to determine whether to lock Password Safe due to inactivity
DoubleClickAction Copy Password pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a See Help entry DCA Values export
HotKey none pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a The Hot Key value. (This is stored as a decimal integer created from the virtual keycode for the character in the lower word plus the Microsoft Foundation Class CHotKeyCtrl modifier flags in the higher word.)
MaxREItems 25 pwsafe.cfg 0 25 Maximum number of "Recent used entries" to be saved in the database and displayed from the System Tray icon to allow quick access
TreeDisplayStatusAtOpen AllCollapsed database n/a n/a Values are: AllCollapsed, AllExpanded or AsPerLastSave
NumPWHistoryDefault 3 database 0 255 How many passwords to keep in an entry's password history field
BackupSuffix 0 pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a Values are: None, datetime or an incremental number
BackupMaxIncremented 1 pwsafe.cfg 1 999 Only valid if an incremental number is used for the BackupSuffix
PreExpiryWarnDays 1 pwsafe.cfg 1 30 When to warn on about-to-expire passwords
ClosedTrayIconColour 0 pwsafe.cfg 0 0 Change the colour of the closed database Password Safe icon in the System Tray.
0 = Black, 1 - Blue, 2 = White and 3 = Yellow
PWDigitMinLength 0 database 0 1024 Default minimum number of digits in a generated password
PWLowercaseMinLength 0 database 0 1024 Default minimum number of lower case characters in a generated password
PWUppercaseMinLength 0 database 0 1024 Default minimum number of upper case characters in a generated password
PWSymbolMinLength 0 database 0 1024 Default minimum number of symbols in a generated password
OptShortcutColumnWidth 92 pwsafe.cfg 10 512 Size of the columns in the Manage → Options → Shortcuts tab
ShiftDoubleClickAction Copy Password pwsafe.cfg n/a n/a See Help entry DCA Values export

Textual Preferences

Preference Default Where stored Comment
currentbackup <none> pwsafe.cfg Path and name of last backup file
currentfile <none> pwsafe.cfg Currently (i.e., last) opened file
lastview tree pwsafe.cfg Last view selected: Tree or List view ("tree" or "list")
DefaultUsername <none> database Default value for the Username field when creating new entries
treefont <none> pwsafe.cfg Information about the font used in the Tree View
PasswordFont <none> pwsafe.cfg Information about the font used to display the password
BackupPrefixValue <none> pwsafe.cfg Usually the current database name is used to prefix any backup file names. This can be overridden using this preference
BackupDir <none> pwsafe.cfg Usually the database backup is stored in the same directory as the database. This can be overridden using this preference
AltBrowser <none> pwsafe.cfg Full path to an alternate browser
ListColumns <none> pwsafe.cfg Non-default column order in List View. Note the list of comma separated column numbers reflect internal numbering of the fields and should not be edited manually
ColumnWidths <none> pwsafe.cfg Non-default column widths inList View
DefaultAutotypeString \u\t\p\t\n database The database's default AutoType string. Note that each entry may override this value
AltBrowserCmdLineParms <none> pwsafe.cfg Special command line parameters for the alternate browser, if specified
MainToolBarButtons <none> pwsafe.cfg A list of the Toolbar buttons and their order as customised by the user. A separator is shown as a ~
TreeListSampleText "AaBbYyZz 0O1IlL" pwsafe.cfg Sample text to use when deciding what font to be used in the Tree View
PswdSampleText "AaBbYyZz 0O1IlL" pwsafe.cfg Sample text to use when deciding what font to be used to display passwords
VKSampleText "AaBbYyZz 0O1IlL" pwsafe.cfg Sample text to use when deciding what font to be used in the Virtual Keyboard
VKeyboardFontName <none> pwsafe.cfg Name of the Unicode font to be used to display all characters used in the Virtual Keyboard. This includes both Latin and non-Latin characters
LastUsedKeyboard <none> pwsafe.cfg Save the code of the last Virtual Keyboard used
AltNotesEditor <none> pwsafe.cfg Full path to a text editor to be used to edit an entry's Notes field rather than the Windows default application.
LanguageFile <none> pwsafe.cfg The code of last language file used by the user. It is in the form "LL" or "LL_CC", where LL = ISO 639-1 two-character Language code e.g. EN, FR, DE, HE... see http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/ and CC = ISO 3166-1 two-character Country code e.g. US, GB, FR, CA... see http://www.iso.org/iso/en/prods-services/iso3166ma/index.html
DefaultSymbols <none> database The default list of symbols to be used when generating a password with symbols. Note: each entry may override this value.