Python getpass module

Filed Under: Python

In many of our Python programs, we need to get secret keys, pass-phrases or password for a secret transaction or identifying a user if they are authorized to do something. Many things need to be taken care of while accepting the keys, that the phrase should not be echoed back to the screen, disabling the echoing of statements etc. With Python getpass module, all of these features come in-built. Let’s use this simple module in examples and see how this can be put to use.

Python getpass module

We will start with a simple way of accepting keys in Python examples and gradually customising the user experience with a custom prompt for the user. Finally, we will see how we can stream the password to other places like a file instead of the terminal. Let’s get started.

Python getpass example

Let’s start experimenting the module with a very basic example of getting a password from the user on the terminal:

import getpass

    pwd = getpass.getpass()
except Exception as ex:
    print('Error Occured : ', ex)
    print('Entered secret :', pwd)

Let’s see the output for this program:

python getpass with no prompt

getpass with no prompt

The password is the deafult prompt for the user. In next example, we will be customising it.

Python getpass custom prompt

To prompt a user with your own message, just provide a String argument in the getpass() function:

import getpass

pwd = getpass.getpass(prompt = 'Which is your favorite place to go?')
if pwd == 'JournalDev':
    print('Where is that?')

Let’s see the output for this program:

python getpass with custom prompt

getpass with custom prompt

This function is useful when you need to ask for secret passphrases apart from explicit passwords.

Python getpass with other stream

Disabling terminal echoes of the password and diverting input to any other stream is also possible with getpass() function. Just pass the stream to the function as well:

import getpass
import sys

pwd = getpass.getpass(stream=sys.stderr)
print('You entered:', pwd)

Let’s see the output for this program:

Passing password to other stream

Passing password to other stream

Getting passwords without Terminal

When you are working on a Unix system, getpass() needs a tty which can be controlled via termios. This is needed so that input echoing is disabled.

Let’s execute our first sample code on a non-Unix machine:

echo "not dark" | python3

Let’s see the output for this program:

Without Terminal

Without Terminal

As we excuted the program on a non-Unix machine, there was no difference to the output. Otherwise, you would have simply seen not dark on the screen.

Read more about teletype terminals here.


In this lesson, we studied a very simple way with which we can accept secret values in our Python programs and stream them to the terminal or any other possible streams and pipes.

Read more Python posts here.

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