This documentation is for Dovecot v2.x, see wiki1 for v1.x documentation.


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:

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.

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

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.


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=