The passwords recognized by LISTSERV for various operations (assuming that the NOPW parameter is not used with the “Validate=” keyword) are of two distinct types:

    • Personal Passwords – LISTSERV can store a personal password in its signup files corresponding to your userid. For LISTSERV maintainers and list owners, this password is to be used for list maintenance operations, and must be used to store your notebook archive and catalog files, if any, on the server.  As a list subscriber, your personal password will be used to authenticate your access to any non-public lists to which you are subscribed, and will be used to authenticate any changes in your personal options for those lists.
    • List Passwords – List passwords are technically obsolete except in one particular case (peered lists, which require each peer to have the same list password). We mention them here only because users upgrading from earlier versions will be aware of their existence. You should define and use a personal password for all protected operations.

Password Requirements

LISTSERV passwords MUST be at least six (6) characters in length.  Of course, we recommend the use of longer passwords with the usual precautions regarding complexity, not using common words or names, etc.

The following ASCII characters are allowed for use in passwords:

A-Z, a-z and 0-9

as well as

! # $ % & + - . : ; < > ? @ [ ] ^ _ { | } ~

The following characters ARE NOT allowed in a LISTSERV password:

" ' ( ) * , / = \ `

as well as the SPACE character (ASCII 0x20).

Setting a Personal LISTSERV Password

To set a personal password, send mail to LISTSERV with the command

PW ADD newpassword

in the body of the message. LISTSERV will request a confirmation via the “OK” mechanism (see above) before it adds the password.

If you want to remove your password altogether, send the command


This command will also require confirmation.

And finally, if you simply want to change your personal password, send the command

PW CHANGE newpassword [PW=oldpassword]

If you do not include the old password in the command (e.g., you’ve forgotten it), LISTSERV will request an “OK” confirmation. Otherwise, it will act on the command without need for further confirmation (unless, of course, the oldpassword provided is incorrect).

Note also that the command

       PW REP newpassword

is functionally equivalent to the PW CHANGE newpassword command sent without the old password to validate it.

Note:  Personal passwords may also be managed via LISTSERV's web interface.