It is far too common for someone to use the same password for some or even all their online accounts. Further, the passwords that we often use are designed to be remembered, which makes sense. Unfortunately this also means that these easy to remember passwords are prime candidates to be hacked through the use of dictionaries or other means. This is where password management comes in. Password managers are tools that you can use to create strong passwords that are unique for each of your online accounts and also helps you remember them!

Overview

Bitwarden is one of many different tools you can use to help you manage your passwords in a more secure fashion. Bitwarden and most of the other good password managers offer options for both desktop as well as smartphone setup. In this post, we’re going to go through how to use Bitwarden to better and more securely manage your online passwords.

Setup

Registration

The first thing you need to do to use Bitwarden is setup an account with them via the registration page on their website. You will need to provide them with your email address, name and master password as per the screenshot below. Do not forget your master password as this is how you will get access to all of the other passwords that you create for your online accounts. If you forget it, you won’t be able to get to those critical passwords.

Bitwarden registration form

Once you’ve successfully created your Bitwarden account you’ll be asked to login after which you’ll be redirected to the Bitwarden Vault page which looks like the following. Note: you will want to confirm your email so that all of the features of Bitwarden are made available to you:

Bitwarden Vault

Adding your first vault item

Let’s say that you are signing up for a new account with https://notetrac.io which requires you to use a strong password. Let’s create an item in Bitwarden that you can use to login to Note Trac going forward.

On the dashboard you’ll want to click the “Add Item” button to add your first password to the vault after which the following window will be displayed for you to fill out. Give the item a name that you will remember and be sure to input the username and password.

Password Generator

Bitwarden Vault

If you don’t have a password you can use the Password Generator located on the “ADD ITEM” form by clicking the blue circled arrow icon just above the input box where you enter the password. This is one of the most valuable features of Bitwarden because it generates a strong password that is very difficult to hack. What’s even better is that you don’t have to remember this password because Bitwarden will remember it for you. If you want to see what it is click the eye icon next to the now populated password field.

URL’s

Bitwarden Vault

Another important part of the ADD ITEM form is the URL section. It is in this section that you’ll want to put the address for the login page of the app that you are creating a Bitwarden item for.

Bitwarden Vault

Once these values have been provided as exampled in the above “ADD ITEM” form, click the “Save” button after which the new item should be added to your vault as shown in the following screenshot. Once this has been completed you’ll need to setup the Bitwarden browser extension to use it on the desktop and install it on your smartphone to use it there:

Bitwarden Vault

Desktop

Using the Vault

On a desktop computer you can bring up the Bitwarden Login Page in a browser and once you’ve logged in to your vault copy and paste the username and password accordingly into the Login form for Note Trac.

Using a browser extension

In my opinion there is a much more efficient way to use Bitwarden on your desktop and that is to setup a Bitwarden Browser Extension which will allow you to auto populate values in the login form of Note Trac and any other app you have created a Vault Item for in Bitwarden. Bitwarden offers browser extensions for all of the most popular browsers available today from their download page which looks as follows:

Bitwarden Download Page

From this page click on whichever Web Browser you’d like to install the Bitwarden extension on (be sure you’re actually using the browser that you want to install the extension on). Typically there is a download or install button that you click and the browser takes care of the rest. After you’ve installed the extension you might need to shut it down (including any other open browser windows/tabs) and start it back up again.

At this point you should see a new icon displayed in your browser which should look something like the following (note the item circled in red in the upper right of the following screenshot):

Bitwarden Extension Icon

click it and you should see the Bitwarden extension login appear (see the following screenshot). Click the login button and key in your username and the master password that you used to create your account from the beginning of this post.

Bitwarden Extension Login

Once you’ve logged in you should see the following with Note Trac listed as an item in the vault. Also notice that the Extension icon turns from grey to blue (at least in Chrome based browsers). This is a good visual indicator that you’ve successfully logged into your vault.

Bitwarden Extension vault

Now, if you want to login to an app you have a couple of options. Be sure to have the Note Trac Login page loaded (the same is true for whichever app you are trying to log in to.):

Option 1 - First click the Bitwarden Extension Icon and then Click the Note Trac Vault Item that you see above and it should auto-populate the password as shown in the following screenshot:

click to autopopulate

Option 2 - There is a keyboard shortcut that you can use to auto populate the username / password fields of a login form. Be sure that the cursor is placed in the username field of the login form and use the following shortcut sequence Ctrl -> Shift -> L (be sure to hold down each key in succession before releasing them). Once you have done this the username and password should now be displayed in the form and you can go ahead and login.

NOTE: - Setting up Bitwarden on a mobile phone is different for each phone depending on the operating system and version of the operating system each would require it’s own blog post to address this. For convenience refer here to the official smartphone installation guides provided by Bitwarden (Android instructions, iOS instructions)