Installing and Using Python Keyring Lib

What is Python keyring lib?

The Python keyring lib provides a easy way to access the system keyring service from python. It can be used in any application that needs safe password storage.

The keyring services supported by the Python keyring lib:

  • OSXKeychain: supports the Keychain service in Mac OS X.
  • KDEKWallet: supports the KDE's Kwallet service.
  • GnomeKeyring: for Gnome 2 environment.
  • SecretServiceKeyring: for newer GNOME and KDE environments.

Besides these native password storing services provided by operating systems. Python keyring lib also provides following build-in keyrings.

  • Win32CryptoKeyring: for Windows 2k+.
  • CryptedFileKeyring: a command line interface keyring base on PyCrypto.
  • UncryptedFileKeyring: a keyring which leaves passwords directly in file.

Installation Instructions

easy_install or pip

Run easy_install or pip:

$ easy_install keyring
$ pip install keyring

Source installation

Download the source tarball, and uncompress it, then run the install command:

$ wget
$ tar -xzvf keyring-0.3.tar.gz
$ cd keyring-0.3
$ python install

Configure your keyring lib

The python keyring lib contains implementations for several backends, including OSX Keychain, Gnome Keyring, KDE Kwallet and etc. The lib will automatically choose the keyring that is most suitable for your current environment. You can also specify the keyring you like to be used in the config file or by calling the set_keyring() function.

Customize your keyring by config file

This section is about how to change your option in the config file.

Config file path

The configuration of the lib is stored in a file named "keyringrc.cfg". The file can be stored in either of following two paths.

  1. The working directory of the python
  2. The home directory for current user

The lib will first look for the config file in the working directory. If no config file exists or the config file cannot be written properly, keyring will reference the config in the home directory.

Beginning with keyring 0.8, the config root is platform specific. To determine where in the home directory the config file (and other data files) are stored, run the following:

python -c "import keyring.util.platform; print(keyring.util.platform.data_root())"

Config file content

To specify a keyring backend, you need tell the lib the module name of the backend, such as keyring.backends.OS_X.Keyring. If the backend is not shipped with the lib, in another word, is made by you own, you need also tell the lib the path of your own backend module. The module name should be written after the default-keyring option, while the module path belongs the keyring-path option.

Here's a sample config file(The full demo can be accessed in the demo/


Write your own keyring backend

The interface for the backend is defined by keyring.backend.KeyringBackend. By extending this base class and implementing the three functions supported(), get_password() and set_password(), you can easily create your own backend for keyring lib.

The usage of the three functions:

  • supported(self) : Return if this backend is supported in current environment. The returned value can be 0, 1 , or -1. 0 means suitable; 1 means recommended and -1 means this backend is not available for current environment.
  • get_password(self, service, username) : Return the stored password for the username of the service.
  • set_password(self, service, username, password) : Store the password for username of the service in the backend.
  • delete_password(self, service, username) : Delete the stored password for the username of the service.

For an instance, there's the source code of the demo mentioned above. It's a simple keyring which stores the password directly in memory.


A simple keyring class for the

Created by Kang Zhang on 2009-07-12
from keyring.backend import KeyringBackend

class SimpleKeyring(KeyringBackend):
    """Simple Keyring is a keyring which can store only one
    password in memory.
    def __init__(self):
        self.password = ''

    def supported(self):
        return 0

    def get_password(self, service, username):
        return self.password

    def set_password(self, service, username, password):
        self.password = password
        return 0

    def delete_password(self, service, username):
        self.password = None

Set the keyring in runtime

Besides setting the backend through the config file, you can also set the backend to use by calling the api set_keyring(). The backend you passed in will be used to store the password in your application.

Here's a code snippet from the It shows the usage of set_keyring()

# define a new keyring class which extends the KeyringBackend
import keyring.backend
class TestKeyring(keyring.backend.KeyringBackend):
    """A test keyring which always outputs same password
    def supported(self): return 0
    def set_password(self, servicename, username, password): return 0
    def get_password(self, servicename, username):
        return "password from TestKeyring"
    def delete_password(self, servicename, username, password): return 0

# set the keyring for keyring lib
import keyring

# invoke the keyring lib
    keyring.set_password("demo-service", "tarek", "passexample")
    print "password stored sucessfully"
except keyring.backend.PasswordSetError:
    print "failed to store password"
print "password", keyring.get_password("demo-service", "tarek")

Integrate the keyring lib with your application

API interface

The keyring lib has a few functions:

  • get_keyring() : Return the currently-loaded keyring implementation.
  • get_password(service, username) : Returns the password stored in keyring. If the password does not exist, it will return None.
  • set_password(service, username, password) : Store the password in the keyring.
  • delete_password(service, username) : Delete the password stored in keyring. If the password does not exist, it will raise an exception.


Here's an example of using keyring for application authorization. It can be found in the demo folder of the repository. Note that the faked auth function only returns true when the password equals to the username.


Created by Kang Zhang 2009-08-14

import keyring
import getpass
import ConfigParser

def auth(username, password):
    """A faked authorization function.
    return username == password

def main():
    """This scrip demos how to use keyring facilite the authorization. The
    username is stored in a config named 'auth_demo.cfg'
    # config file init
    config_file = 'auth_demo.cfg'
    config = ConfigParser.SafeConfigParser({
    if not config.has_section('auth_demo_login'):

    username = config.get('auth_demo_login','username')
    password = None
    if username != '':
        password = keyring.get_password('auth_demo_login', username)

    if password == None or not auth(username, password):

        while 1:
            username = raw_input("Username:\n")
            password = getpass.getpass("Password:\n")

            if auth(username, password):
                print "Authorization failed."

        # store the username
        config.set('auth_demo_login', 'username', username)
        config.write(open(config_file, 'w'))

        # store the password
        keyring.set_password('auth_demo_login', username, password)

    # the stuff that needs authorization here
    print "Authorization successful."

if __name__ == "__main__":

Get involved

Python keyring lib is an open community project and highly welcomes new contributors.

Running Tests

Tests are continuously run using Travis-CI.


To run the tests yourself, you'll want keyring installed to some environment in which it can be tested. Three recommended techniques are described below.

Using pytest runner

Keyring is instrumented with pytest runner. Thus, you may invoke the tests from any supported Python (with distribute installed) using this command:

python ptr

pytest runner will download any unmet dependencies and run the tests using pytest.

This technique is the one used by the Travis-CI script.

If you want to run the tests under Python 3, you must be sure that you are testing the library after 2to3 got executed. The easiest way to do it would be to use:

python3 build ptr --addopts "build/lib"

Using virtualenv and pytest/nose/unittest2

Pytest and Nose are two popular test runners that will discover tests and run them. Unittest2 (also known as simply unittest in Python 3) also has a mode to discover tests.

First, however, these test runners typically need a test environment in which to run. It is recommended that you install keyring to a virtual environment to avoid interfering with your system environment. For more information, see the virtualenv homepage.

After you've created (or designated) your environment, install keyring into the environment by running:

python develop

Then, invoke your favorite test runner, e.g.:




Using buildout

Keyring supplies a buildout.cfg for use with buildout. If you have buildout installed, tests can be invoked as so:

1. bin/buildout  # prepare the buildout.
2. bin/test  # execute the test runner.

For more information about the options that the script provides do execute:

python bin/test --help


The project was based on Tarek Ziade's idea in this post. Kang Zhang initially carried it out as a Google Summer of Code project, and Tarek mentored Kang on this project.

See CONTRIBUTORS.txt for a complete list of contributors.