Linux script to prompt for password

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Linux do not provide any special or specific command to read password. However, bash shell comes with builtin command called read. It read date from the standard input (keyboard), or from file descriptor FD if the -u option is supplied. General syntax is as follows:
read -s -p “Password: ” VARIABLE


  • -s: Do not display password on screen. It causes input coming from a terminal/keyboard to not be echoed
  • -p: “Password: “: Display text message
  • VARIABLE: Bash variable in which your password stored

For example, try out following example at shell prompt:
$ read -s -p "Enter Password: " mypasswordOutput:

Enter Password:  

Now display password:
$ echo $mypassword See complete script to accept password using read command.


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

11 comment

  1. Please I want to y1, y2 and y3 to have values piped in by the pipe (|) and read to read from the file and asign them to the variables but

    export tukur=2
    test is a file contain 3 columns say: aa bb cc
    after excuting the following command y1, y2, y3 dont contain anythin pls could someone help?

    tail -n +$tukur home/tukur/test | read -r y1 y2 y3

    Thank you,
    Tukur Dan-Asabe.

  2. Tukur,

    Assuming that your file.txt is as follows:
    val1 val2 val3

    Here is a shell script:

    while read line
    # store field 1
    F1=$(echo $line|cut -d” ” -f1)
    # store field 2
    F2=$(echo $line|cut -d” ” -f2)
    # store field
    F3=$(echo $line|cut -d” ” -f3)
    echo $F1 ” ” $F2 ” ” $F3
    done < file.txt

    Var $F1 $F2 and $F3 stores the value. If you need more help try out shell scripting forum @

  3. Unfortunately, read -s only works if the first line of your script sets the shell to bash. Tested in ubuntu.

    IF THIS does work

    set to

  4. Hi Vivek,

    How to make a one liner that can implement the prompt script to run multiple times?
    eg. the simplest one i can think of:

    i have one user list, name it as userlist.txt with content as below:

    with a script that used to reset single user password,


    read -p “reset user password (y/n)” yn

    case $yn in
    echo “plsresetlater” | passwd –stdin $user &> /dev/null;;
    echo “user password did not change”;;

    then run the one liner by piping all the username to the; see output:

    reset user password (y/n) y #user mary
    reset user password (y/n) n #user kent
    user password did not change
    reset user password (y/n) n #user judy
    user password did not change

    i have tried the awk; not working
    awk -F “:” ‘{print $1}’ userlist.txt | while read users; do $users; done

  5. hi guys,
    if in the middle of execution of script ,
    some process asked for some input from keyboard . How can i provide that input from the script?

    1. you may try the following (i am using them in SOLARIS)
      echo “enter some_input”
      read some_input
      # to display entered input and then to abort or proceed
      echo “entered some_input is $some_input. Press ENTER key to continue or CONTROL-C to abort”

  6. I took your script and made it fully automated:

    if [[ $(whoami) == 'root' ]]; then
      read -s -p 'Enter Password:' PASSWORD
      TM_NAME=$(hostname -s)
      # Don't change these ...
      echo "Disabling TimeMachine"
      tmutil disable
      echo "Unmounting ${AFPSHARE}"
      while mount | grep ${AFPSHARE} > /dev/null; do  mount | grep ${AFPSHARE} | awk '{print $3}' | xargs -n1 -I{} umount -f {}; done  
      echo "Mounting volume"
      mkdir $MOUNT
      mount_afp afp://${USER}:${PASSWORD}@${HOSTNAME}/${AFPSHARE} ${MOUNT}
      echo "Changing file and folder flags"
      chflags -R nouchg "${SPARSEBUNDLE}"
      echo "Attaching sparse bundle"
      DISK=$(hdiutil attach -nomount -readwrite -noverify -noautofsck "${SPARSEBUNDLE}" | grep 'Apple_HFS' | awk '{ print $1 }')  
      echo "Repairing volume"
      diskutil repairVolume ${DISK}
      /sbin/fsck_hfs -fry ${DISK}
      echo "Fixing Properties"
      cp "${PLIST}" "${PLIST}.backup"
      sed -e '/RecoveryBackupDeclinedDate/{N;d;}'   \
          -e '/VerificationState/{n;s/2/0/;}'       \
          "${PLIST}.backup" \
           > "${PLIST}"
      echo "Unmounting volumes"
      hdiutil detach ${DISK}
      umount ${MOUNT}
      echo "Enabling TimeMachine"
      tmutil enable
      echo "Starting backup"
      tmutil startbackup
      echo Please run this script as root.

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