As is true with most helpful tools, software, and apps, how you use password managers is just as important as how well they work for you. Part of the convenience password managers bring is the fact that they make logging in and out of accounts easy without compromising your privacy or security.
But that depends on how you’re using the password manager. If you find yourself copy/pasting passwords often, struggling with logging into accounts on your mobile device, or forgetting where you stored which password, you might end up giving up on password managers altogether, especially if you’re new to the tool.
So if you’re new to password managers or just aren’t sure you’re using it to the best of their abilities, here are some tips that you might find useful.
Focus on your most important accounts
Don’t worry about adding every password from each and every account into your password manager. Instead, first focus on those key accounts where your risk is highest – email, banks, social, cloud storage, etc. By taking risk and frequency of use into account, you can quickly get the most out of your password manager.
For a more comprehensive breakdown into important accounts and how to protect them with your password manager, read our article here.
Only add strong passwords
As you add new accounts to your password manager, consider resetting those passwords and generating new ones using the password manager. This enhances your security by ensuring the password hasn’t been compromised, guaranteeing it’s unique, and making sure it’s long and strong. It takes a bit of time to do but it’s worth the extra security. Otherwise, you’re just using the password manager to remember a weak password.
Good password managers, like Dashlane and 1Password, allow you to sync their password managers across multiple devices. This means you never have to worry about memorizing complex passwords or having to go through a complicated process of copying a password from the password manager on your desktop and getting it to your mobile device (or vice versa). It’s worth getting the app.
Install the browser extensions
Since we enter so many passwords via browsers, you should also use the browser extension (if available for your browser) for the same reason you should use a password manager’s app. Having these passwords available to you, essentially at the click of a button, makes using a password manager extremely easy and will actually show you how the traditional way of logging in with a password was actually more inefficient than using a password manager.
Add all your login details
While the ‘password’ function of a password manager is the most important, the tool itself is designed to help make the entire login process much easier. And when adding new passwords, it’s worth adding additional details like the URL of the login page as well as the username/email required for the log in.
That’ll make logging into your accounts even simpler because the software will know exactly what details to input (in addition to your password) whenever it detects you’ve arrived at an URL that requires a log-in.
Use biometric authentication
If your password manager supports it, we recommend using biometric authentication so you don’t have to input your password every time you need to add a password to your manager or login with a password. Many password managers let you add your fingerprint if you’re using Touch ID or fingerprint authentication for your mobile device or some desktop/laptop devices as well. Again, when considering convenience, this is a really helpful option.
Consider shared accounts
If you’re also concerned about your family’s privacy or want to share some passwords with a significant party (for example, Netflix), some password managers let you place passwords in a shared location (depending on your pricing plans). For example, 1Password has “shared vaults” that, with a family or business plan, allows you to share passwords across the account. This is also a good way to start someone off with a password manager in case they’re also wary about using it.
Prepare for Emergency Recovery
Using a password manager makes you dependent upon the password manager as it would be a disaster if you got locked out. Or, in a worse scenario, you’re incapacitated and your loved ones couldn’t get into your accounts. For this reason, many password managers have ‘emergency recovery’ procedures so you (or someone you designate) can get into the account. Everyone who uses a password manager needs to complete this final important step of protecting themselves.
A password manager is required for online life
A password manager is an additional tool, an additional expense, and takes effort to setup and use. But it is effectively impossible to properly manage the full breadth of your online accounts securely without one. Feel free to start slowly, give yourself the time to learn all the ways they can make your life easier once you’re comfortable with them, and slowly expand your use until you take full advantage of all the ways they can make you safe.