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Create secure passwords, quickly. PWgen is a Firefox extension that copies random passwords to your clipboard in just one click. 

Passwords are they key to your online life, so it’s important to keep them secure. The best thing is to have a completely different password for each site, which means having a good password manager 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You Choosing some sort of password management strategy to deal with the huge amount of passwords we need is crucial. If you're like most people, you probably store your passwords in your brain. To remember them... Read More . It also means coming up with a new password for each of these sites – or even more often, if coming up with passwords is part of your job.

You can try creating good passwords that are also memorable 7 Ways To Make Up Passwords That Are Both Secure & Memorable 7 Ways To Make Up Passwords That Are Both Secure & Memorable Having a different password for each service is a must in today's online world, but there's a terrible weakness to randomly generated passwords: it's impossible to remember them all. But how can you possibly remember... Read More , but for some people, that’s just not secure enough. If you need good, secure and completely random passwords, and don’t feel like firing up your password manager or loading up a generator website each time, you might enjoy PWgen. 

Create Passwords In One Click

pwgen-button[4]

PWgen is a super-simple add-on that generates random passwords with a click of the mouse. After installing the add-on, all you have to do is click the “P” button to get a brand new password. By default, your new password will appear shortly on the bottom left corner of your browser window, and will also be copied to your clipboard.

pwgen-pass

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The passwords PWgen creates are completely random, but you do have some control over the output. Through the add-on’s options, you can control both halves of the generated password, and choose to include lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

pwgen-options

Move on to the “Extras” tab for some more advanced options. From here you can set the password’s length, which special characters will be included in passwords, which characters will never be included, and control what happens when you generate a new password.

pwgen-extras

You can also enable a “Password History”, which will save all the passwords you generate for later access through the menu. While this could be convenient for certain purposes, I don’t recommend using this unless you’re absolutely sure no one can access your browser and view that history. Although there’s no way for anyone to know what you used those passwords for, you’re still better off with no one seeing them at all – and not leaving a record of all of them.

pwgen-history

If you do choose to keep a password history, you can clear it at any time through the add-on’s menu.

You may have noticed an option called “Master Password” in previous screenshots. This is quite a mysterious option, and since the add-on’s help page doesn’t exist anymore, it’s hard to fully understand what it’s meant to do.

I wanted to know, so I talked to the extension’s developer. It turns out this is a pretty cool option. Based on the master password you input, PWgen generates a random password for you in the bottom field. This mean you can recreate the same password again and again, without saving it anywhere, and just by remembering your master password. You can also add a domain and username to the mix, and get a password that is unique for that combination.

pwgen-master

How Good Is It?

PWgen is an add-on that does one thing well: generate passwords. Don’t expect it to do anything else. If you need to generate passwords often, it’s a neat little solution, so it’s no wonder it’s featured in our best Firefox add-ons page.

When considering security, I only wish PWgen had a clipboard timeout feature, to ensure my last password is not visible to the world just by hitting Ctrl+V on my computer. But this is a problem that can be easily solve manually, if you’re really worried. If you’re feeling lost in the world of passwords, and not sure what you should be using, download our free password manager guide to learn everything you need. It

What’s your favorite way to generate good passwords?

Image credit: Marc Falardeau

  1. Brian Tkatch
    January 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    The problem is, completely random passwords are hard to remember, meaning, the single device must handle it.

  2. Kurt S.
    January 17, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    PW Gen has been around for a while. The question is whether you feel secure in using an extension to your browser of choice while online or use the portable version of the application offline? Personally, I prefer to generate secure passwords offline then update any accounts via a secure connexion (https). Perhaps it really boils down to just how paranoid you are.

    • Yaara L
      January 19, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Yes, it's true. Seeing than many of the more popular passwords manager are online these days, I think most people aren't paranoid enough to find PWgen unsecure. Moreover, when you generate a password using your password manager (if it's an online one like LastPass, for example), the password is usually right next to other login information. Here, even if someone does find the passwords, there's no way of knowing where they belong.

  3. Mattia Campagnano
    January 17, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Interesting but a random password can be generated also with LastPass which is a very powerful password manager

    • Yaara L
      January 19, 2014 at 6:29 am

      Yes, most passwords managers have this feature, as I mentioned in my opening paragraph. This is for when you don't want to/can't use them for this, for some reason.

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