This documentation is for Dovecot v2.x, see wiki1 for v1.x documentation.
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This file is compatible with a normal /etc/passwd file, and a password file used by libpam-pwdfile [wiki:PasswordDatabase/PAM PAM] plugin. It's in the following format:


For a password database it's enough to have only the user and password fields. For a user database, you need to set also uid, gid and preferably also home (see VirtualUsers). (gecos) and (shell) fields are unused by Dovecot.

The password field can be in four formats:

  • password: Assume CRYPT [wiki:Authentication/PasswordSchemes password scheme].

  • {SCHEME}password: The password is in the given [wiki:Authentication/PasswordSchemes scheme].

  • password[13]: libpam-passwd file compatible format for CRYPT [wiki:Authentication/PasswordSchemes scheme].

  • password[34]: libpam-passwd file compatible format for MD5 [wiki:Authentication/PasswordSchemes scheme].

extra_fields is a space-separated list of key=value pairs which can be used to set various [wiki:PasswordDatabase/ExtraFields passdb settings] and [wiki:UserDatabase/ExtraFields userdb settings]. Keys which begin with a userdb_ prefix are used for userdb, others are used for passdb. So for example if you wish to override [wiki:MailLocation mail_location] setting for one user, use userdb_mail=mbox:~/mail.

Empty lines and lines beginning with '#' character are ignored.

Multiple passwd files

You can use all the [:Variables:variables] in the passwd-file filenames, for example:

passdb passwd-file {
  # Each domain has a separate passwd-file:
  args = /etc/auth/%d/passwd

v1.0 only: If the filename contains %d, the usernames in the passwd file are expected to contain only the user, not the domain. If you want to use full "user@domain" usernames in the file, use %0.d instead. For v1.1, see below.


These are available only with v1.1 and later:

  • scheme=<s>: Allows you to specify the default password scheme. The default is CRYPT. This is available only for passdb.

  • username_format=<s>: Look up usernames using this format instead of the full username (%u). If you want to enable user@domain logins but have only "user" in the file, set this to %n.

For example:

passdb passwd-file {
  args = scheme=plain-md5 username_format=%n /etc/imap.passwd
userdb passwd-file {
  args = username_format=%n /etc/imap.passwd


This file can be used as a passdb:


This file can be used as both a passwd and a userdb:

user:{plain}pass:1000:1000::/home/user::userdb_mail=maildir:~/Maildir allow_nets=

None: AuthDatabase/PasswdFile (last edited 2019-09-11 14:15:57 by MichaelSlusarz)