Exploring wp_generate_password: Generating Secure Keys in WordPress

In WordPress development, the need to generate secure secret keys or passwords arises in various scenarios, such as encryption, authentication, or securing sensitive data. To simplify this process, WordPress provides a built-in function called wp_generate_password. This article delves into the inner workings of wp_generate_password and explores how it generates secure keys in WordPress.

Understanding wp_generate_password:
The wp_generate_password function is a powerful tool that allows developers to generate random passwords or keys within their WordPress applications. By utilizing this function, developers can ensure the integrity and confidentiality of their data through the use of strong and unpredictable keys.

The wp_generate_password function follows the syntax:

wp_generate_password( $length, $special_chars );


  1. $length: Specifies the desired length of the generated key.
  2. $special_chars: Determines whether the generated key should include special characters. It is an optional parameter, defaulting to true.

Key Generation Process:
The key generation process of wp_generate_password involves several steps to ensure the randomness and strength of the generated key. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. Character Set:
    wp_generate_password utilizes a predefined character set consisting of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (such as !@#$%^&*). This diverse character set enhances the complexity and security of the generated key.
  2. Randomness:
    The function employs a robust random number generator provided by PHP. This generator generates random numbers based on various sources, including system-specific functionalities and cryptographic algorithms.
  3. Key Composition:
    Once the character set and random numbers are available, wp_generate_password selects random characters from the character set to form the key. It repeats this process until the desired length is achieved, creating a key with a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  4. Special Characters:
    The inclusion of special characters in the key depends on the $special_chars parameter. If set to true (default), special characters are included in the key, enhancing its complexity and strength. However, if set to false, the generated key will only consist of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers.

Calculating the Number of Unique Keys:
The number of unique keys that can be generated using wp_generate_password depends on the length of the key and the character set used. The formula to calculate the number of unique keys is:

Number of Unique Keys = Number of Possible Characters ^ Length

By default, wp_generate_password uses a character set with 95 possible characters (uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters). Consequently, the number of unique keys increases exponentially with the length of the key.

Here’s an example of how you can use wp_generate_password to generate a secret key:

$secret_key = wp_generate_password(64, false); // Generate a 64-character secret key

In this example, 64 is the length of the secret key you want to generate, and false indicates that the generated key should not contain special characters.

You can adjust the length and the inclusion of special characters based on your requirements. Once you have generated the secret key, you can use it for your desired purpose, such as encryption, authentication, or any other application that requires a secret key.

The function generates passwords of variable lengths, so the number of unique keys you can generate depends on the length of the keys and the character set used.

If you use the default settings, which include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, you have a total of 95 possible characters. The length of the key determines the number of unique combinations.

For example, if you generate a key with a length of 10 using the default character set, the calculation would be:

Number of Unique Keys = 95^10 = 5,314,410,049,337,856,000

So, you can generate over 5 quintillion unique keys with a length of 10 using the default settings of wp_generate_password.

Note that if you modify the settings to exclude certain character types or reduce the length of the key, the number of unique keys will decrease accordingly.


  1. Official WordPress Developer Documentation: https://developer.wordpress.org/
  2. WordPress Code Reference for wp_generate_password: https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/functions/wp_generate_password/

The wp_generate_password function in WordPress simplifies the generation of secure keys or passwords within your applications. By employing a diverse character set, randomness, and key composition, wp_generate_password ensures the strength and unpredictability of the generated keys. Understanding the key generation process empowers developers to leverage this function effectively, enhancing the security and integrity of their WordPress applications.

function wp_generate_password( $length = 12, $special_chars = true, $extra_special_chars = false ) {
	$chars = 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0123456789';
	if ( $special_chars ) {
		$chars .= '!@#$%^&*()';
	if ( $extra_special_chars ) {
		$chars .= '-_ []{}<>~`+=,.;:/?|';

	$password = '';
	for ( $i = 0; $i < $length; $i++ ) {
		$password .= substr( $chars, wp_rand( 0, strlen( $chars ) - 1 ), 1 );

	 * Filters the randomly-generated password.
	 * @since 3.0.0
	 * @since 5.3.0 Added the `$length`, `$special_chars`, and `$extra_special_chars` parameters.
	 * @param string $password            The generated password.
	 * @param int    $length              The length of password to generate.
	 * @param bool   $special_chars       Whether to include standard special characters.
	 * @param bool   $extra_special_chars Whether to include other special characters.
	return apply_filters( 'random_password', $password, $length, $special_chars, $extra_special_chars );