My .muttrc file looks something like this one or see below a glimpse. I am hesitant with the password. How should I store my password to use it with mutt?

set imap_user = "username@gmail.com"
set imap_pass = "password"

set smtp_url = "smtp://username@smtp.gmail.com:587/"
set smtp_pass = "password"
set from = "username@gmail.com"
set realname = "Your Real Name"

migrated from superuser.com Sep 12 '11 at 22:28

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  • 4
    In the post you linked, I already wrote "Make sure your ~/.muttrc isn’t world-readable; it contains your password. (Alternatively, you can leave them out and mutt will prompt you for the password each time.)" :-) – ShreevatsaR Jul 18 '10 at 16:36

This tweak should get rid of your problem. Use gpg as suggested, or

set imap_pass=`getpassword email_id`

where you use pwsafe or passwords to fetch the passwords.

Edit: If mutt is built with IMAP support (--enable-imap), then mutt should prompt you for the password if you do not set it in the config file. From the manual:


Type: string Default: ""

Specifies the password for your IMAP account. If unset, Mutt will prompt you for your password when you invoke the fetch-mail function. Warning: you should only use this option when you are on a fairly secure machine, because the superuser can read your muttrc even if you are the only one who can read the file.

  • 8
    +1 have mutt ask you for it. You should only have to enter it once per session. – David Mackintosh Aug 28 '09 at 14:08
  • 2
    Also, if you run mutt within tmux, your session can last a while. – Chris W. May 29 '13 at 17:03
  • What is this function getpassword? I do not have it in my Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS (GNU/Linux) server. I think they are pwsafe or passwords but I should I use them? I would like to be logged into my mutt -account without password once I am logged into the server, since the password of the server is the same as the email's one. – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Oct 21 '15 at 11:58
  • You can use pass - passwordstore.org This tool can be used exactly the same way as described in the answer above. Passwords are stored in git repository encrypted by chosen GPG key. – Jakub Jindra Feb 12 at 19:34

Create a passwords file: ~/.mutt/passwords:

set imap_pass="password"
set smtp_pass="password"

This file can be encrypted using GPG. First, create a public/private key pair:

$ gpg --gen-key

Encrypt the passwords file:

$ gpg -r your.email@example.com -e ~/.mutt/passwords
$ ls ~/.mutt/passwords*
/home/user/.mutt/passwords   /home/user/.mutt/passwords.gpg
$ shred ~/.mutt/passwords
$ rm ~/.mutt/passwords

Add to your muttrc:

source "gpg -d ~/.mutt/passwords.gpg |"


See also Arch Wiki's Mutt entry.

  • Should the public key in the passwords file or the shell script? I think the shell script should be in .muttrc. I get after running the gpg command gpg: masi@myuni.fi: skipped: public key not found gpg: /u/77/masi/unix/.mutt/passwords: encryption failed: public key not found. I did cat $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa.pub >> $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts but it does not seem to be the problem. What do I do wrong? – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Oct 21 '15 at 11:58
  • 1
    Masi, you need to have a GPG (or PGP) key, not your SSH public key. More info on GPG keys here: fedoraproject.org/wiki/Creating_GPG_Keys and here: help.ubuntu.com/community/GnuPrivacyGuardHowto – DmitrySandalov Nov 12 '15 at 21:24
  • 1
    This is a perfect solution. Here is my config file for anyone who needs for reference: github.com/shubhamchaudhary/dotfiles/blob/master/home/.muttrc – Shubham Chaudhary Sep 5 '16 at 7:07
  • I thought this was a good solution, but then I typed :set imap_pass in mutt and got my password shown in cleartext. Can this be avoided? When mutt asks for the imap password itself, it doesn't show the caleartext password when typing :set ... – eli Jul 27 '17 at 14:55
  • Did you create your GPG private key without password? If not gpg -d would require password. Why use password to encrypt a password when the goal is passwordless login... – sdaffa23fdsf Feb 25 '18 at 8:40

Why not use a wallet manager like gnome-keyring or kwalletmanager with secret-tool?

apt install gnome-keyring secret-tool


source 'echo "$( pw=$( secret-tool lookup user <USERNAME> domain <DOMAIN> ); echo set imap_pass=\"$pw\"; echo set smtp_pass=\"$pw\" )" |'

Store your imap and smtp passwd:

secret-tool store --label=imap user <USERNAME> domain <DOMAIN>

You could choose your own label if you wanted to.

Look up your creds using a shell:

secret-tool lookup user <USERNAME> domain <DOMAIN>

Fire up your [neo]mutt, connect & login to your imap srv. Enjoy.

This solution has advantages over gpg-based ones: it integrates well and there's no additional file left layin' around.

Bonus: Use libsecret or directly gnome-keyring as a git credential-helper as in git with libsecret and git with gnome-keyring. Both helpers need manual compilation. Yes, it's a bit awkward but it is working great.


Based on ShreevatsaR's comment, I want to emphasize security. If password in $HOME/.muttrc, do

chmod go-r $HOME/.muttrc

However, I think this is not a secure option still. You should use some method which uses salt in storing passwords.

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