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Usability rant: why doesn't KeePass have a Read-Only mode?


KeePass is an awesome password management utility. In fact, "awesome" is an understatement. It has transformed my computing experience and made my online life significantly more secure. I run KeePass and enter my obscenely long pass phrase multiple times every day; I trust KeePass so much that I don't even know the passwords to most websites I frequent. This includes some really important passwords, too.

There's one thing that bugs me about the perfection that is KeePass, though: There is no read-only mode.

Over 95 percent of the time, all I want to do is get a password, paste it, and close KeePass. While KeePass has protection against accidentally deleting passwords (a Recycle Bin feature), I can pretty easily change a password, accidentally save the file with the modified password, and lose my "real" password completely.

Granted, I need to enter the same password twice before I can hit OK. But what about adding a single character by mistake or any other freak accident that could happen? Keystroke, Tab, keystroke, Enter, and it's bye bye old password! And the "double-entry" feature is for passwords only; what about URLs, or notes, or usernames?

Once I've made the change, I'm screwed. Except for closing the file without saving it, there's no "Undo" function, and KeePass can autosave the file on numerous events (when losing focus, when locking the workspace after a timeout, when minimizing, etc. -- you configure it). Once the file is saved ... well, let's hope that site has easy password recovery options.

What's really crazy is that KeePass had this option! KeePass 1.x had an easy, simple, read-only command line switch that you could run it with, and you could change nothing while it was running; KeePass 2.x no longer has it.

Here's hoping that someone hears my cry and resurrects this feature. In case I ran KeePass in read-only mode and now wanted to create a new entry, I could just have a menu item that allows me to "switch to read/write mode." That option would close the database and reopen it in read/write mode (requiring my password again).

Tags: encryption, freeware, keepass, passwords, readonly, zukerlist