Do you want the alpine email client to remember your passwords?

By default, the text-based email client ‘alpine’ requests a password the first time, per session, that it is requested a password from any email services it checks. For the duration of that session, it remembers the password, but forgets it if you quit alpine so you have to enter it again later. From a security point of view, that is probably a good thing, but most people do like to have their email client remember the password between sessions.

The way this works in alpine seems a little obscure at first, but actually makes a lot of sense. Alpine checks for a file in which passwords should be stored, and if it is there, it behaves differently.

If the file exists, and alpine is asked for a password, then it checks that file for the password. If it is not there it asks you for the password, and then, after you’ve entered it, alpine asks you if you want to save that password in the file. If you say yes, then you are in business.

This has two important implications for you. One: If you want alpine to remember passwords, just create the file and it will happen. Two: If you have trouble at some later time with some kind of operation and you think that the part about asking for the password is screwing you up, delete the file and restart the program (you’ll have to know the password, of course, for when you are prompted for it later).

How do you create the file? Using the bash command ‘touch’ should do. But what file do you need to create? Well, that depends. The file alpine uses is determined at compile time. At present, it seems that the current version of alpine is using a file called ‘.pine-passfile’ (note the dot at the beginning of the file … this is a hidden file) and this file should be in your home directory.

So, to make this work:

1) Quit alpine

2) In a termnial, type:

touch .pine-passfile

3) Restart alpine, check for email and send email, and when asked for a password, enter it and respond “yes” to the prompt asking you if you want to save the password.

4) Give your mouse a little piece of cheese so it does not feel lonely.

For more information about alpine click here.

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0 thoughts on “Do you want the alpine email client to remember your passwords?

  1. Semi-off-topic, but back in the day I recall being told “Pine” stood for “Pine Is Not Elm” (which was the email client I had been using).

    Alpine have any cuteness to it like that? “Aye, Laddy! Pine!” Or is it something much less fancy like “Apache License Pine”

  2. nice tip, I like alpine (use it on linux and windoze – can easily move mailbox between) so it’s good to see fellow users!

    regards Nigel

  3. hi, I like alpine, is fast and “easy” with the help of some tutorials to config 3 gmail accounts. but… this tip for “save password” don’t work for me.. I use alpine ver. 2.00 in archlinux. and there’s no information about password-file in “man alpine” to verify if the filename is the same in this version or not. Some idea??? thx..

  4. I’ve just installed Alpine 2.00 on ubuntu 10.04. Creating ‘.pine-passfile’ in home (not the ‘mail’ sub folder) worked as described.


  5. Alpine offers to store the password on disk only if compiled with the option –with-passfile.
    Some packages out there contain binaries which are not compiled with this option.

  6. On my recent version of alpine 2.20, on Enterprise Linux 6 , the file is called
    .alpine.passfile rather than .pine-passfile.

    strace alpine 2>/tmp/a
    and then search /tmp/a for passfile to see what the name it is looking for you your system.
    Of course if not compiled with the option none of this will work.

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