The Computer Corner

Do You Have Trouble Remembering Your Passwords?
April 2017

You can use a password manager to generate, store, and apply your passwords. You only need to remember a single master password (or use your fingerprint if you have a phone that supports that.) The password manager generates highly secure passwords and remembers them all for you and keeps them encrypted and backed up. This works across all your computers as well as your mobile devices.

Here’s how to set the three most popular password managers for each browser and device you use.

Managing the passwords for all your websites is a challenge. Not only are you supposed to come up with a complex password that can’t easily be guessed or hacked. But you’re supposed to employ a different password for each website you use. Of the many, many, many bad things about passwords, you know what the worst is? Password rules. Some require both upper- and lowercase letters, others require that plus a number and a special character, some grade your password on supposed degree of difficulty to crack, forcing you to break away from any tricks you’ve used to generate passwords you can remember. The problem is these rules usually don’t make your passwords any safer! Sometimes a simple, easily memorized phrase makes a better password than a complicated series of symbols but the site won’t let you use it because it doesn’t meet their “rules.” Ugh!

And now, we all live in a world where we are hitting the same websites and services across a broad array of devices, from desktop computers to mobile phones.  You’ll want to manage your passwords on all your web browsers on all your devices. And you’ll want to sync your website passwords across all your browsers and devices. How is all that possible?

We have a two-word answer for you: password managers. Such tools can conjure up complex passwords for each website and then automatically apply those passwords every time you visit a site. But can you set up and use a password manager that works and syncs across all your browsers and devices? Yes, you can.

In this article, I’ll look at three popular password managers – Dashlane, LastPass, and RoboForm – and explain how to install and set them up across all your browsers and on all your PCs and mobile devices.

Dashlane: Set Up On Your PC

To set up Dashlane on your PC, download the software from its website using any browser, then install the downloaded .exe file. Follow the prompts to create your account and master password. Then add Dashlane to the browser from which you downloaded the software. You should see the Dashlane button among the other icons to the right of the address field. Browse to a site for which you want to create a new password. Click on the Dashlane button. To generate the new password, click on the Generate tab, copy the password, and then apply it at the website. You’re prompted to save your login credentials to your Dashlane account. The next time you visit that website, your login credentials pop up to sign you in.

Now you’ll want to set up Dashlane on your other browsers and computers. There is one hitch. You can install the free version of Dashlane across your browsers on a PC, iPhone, iPad, and Android device. But the freebie version won’t sync your website passwords across the board. To snag the syncing feature, you’ll need to buy the Dashlane Premium subscription, which costs $39.99 a year.

To get Dashlane cooking on your other browsers, open each of them one after the other. On each browser, log into your account at the Dashlane website with your username and master password. You may also have to apply a security code that gets sent to your email address. Download and install or simply open the Dashlane software, and that browser is good to go. If you own more than one computer, you can also log into the different browsers on your other PCs and set up Dashlane via these same steps.

Dashlane: Set Up on Your Mobile Devices

Once your Dashlane account is set up and the software is installed on your PCs, getting it running on your mobile devices is relatively simple. Download the iOS version of Dashlane from Apple’s App Store and the Android version at Google Play. Open the app and sign into your Dashlane account. Your account information and website login credentials are downloaded to the app. You can now tap on a website to automatically sign into it using your username and password.

If your device has fingerprint recognition, you can use that feature instead of your master password to open the app.

LastPass: Set Up on Your PC

To set up LastPass on your PC, download the software from its website. You can install LastPass separately in each browser, or you can install the LastPass Universal Windows Installer, which creates browser extensions for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. I tried the Universal Installer, and it worked without a hitch.

Open each of your browsers one after the other and allow the extension to install. You should see the LastPass button among the other icons to the right of the browser address field. Browse to a site for which you want to create a new password. Click on the LastPass button and then click on the command to “Generate Secure Password.” Copy the password and apply it at the website. You’re prompted to save the site information to your LastPass vault. The next time you visit that website, LastPass automatically sends your login credentials to the appropriate fields to sign you in.

To set up LastPass on another computer, install the Universal Windows Installer so it’s set up as an extension on each of the browsers you use.

LastPass even offers a browser extension for the new Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10. To install this in Edge, click on the More icon (the one on the top right with three dots). From the dropdown menu, click on the Extensions command and then click on the link to “Get extensions from the store.” At the Windows store, click on the link for LastPass to install it as an extension.

LastPass: Set Up on Your Mobile Devices

LastPass offers mobile apps for iOS and Android. Simply install the app you need and then launch it on your phone or tablet. Open the app, enter your master password, and tap on the website you wish to visit. Your login credentials are automatically applied.

If your device has a fingerprint sensor, you can use that in place of your master password to open the app. And best of all, your website passwords automatically sync across your different browsers and devices with the free edition of LastPass. A premium version that costs $12 a year adds more features, such as family password sharing and desktop fingerprint identification.

RoboForm: Set Up on Your PC

To set up RoboForm on a computer, download the software from its website. Installing RoboForm from the downloaded file automatically adds it as an extension to all the browsers on your computer. You’re prompted to create a master password. You can then enable the RoboForm extension as you open each of your browsers.

Like the other password managers, RoboForm will generate a complex password for each of your websites, store your usernames and passwords in its database, and then apply your login credentials to each site. Depending on the browser, you can launch RoboForm from a lone icon or set up an entire toolbar with the RoboForm commands and features of your choice. Repeat these steps for any other computers on which you want to install the program.

You can also install the RoboForm extension in the Microsoft Edge browser by following the same steps described previously for LastPass.

RoboForm: Set Up on Your Mobile Devices

RoboForm supports iOS and Android, so you can install the software on your mobile devices as well. Open the app and then log in with your RoboForm account username, password, and master password. You can also opt to use fingerprint recognition on a mobile device outfitted with that feature. After you launch the app, just tap on the icon for the website you wish to visit, and you’re whisked away with your login credentials automatically applied.

By using RoboForm Everywhere, which stores your website passwords on a secure server, your login credentials are also synchronized across your various browsers and devices.

So now you’re probably wondering, “okay, you showed us three different password managers, which one is best?”  Well, no software is perfect. Each one works slightly differently.  I suggest trying the free version of any of these three and seeing how you like it before paying for premium features. If you’re one of those people who keeps forgetting your passwords, any of these tools will make life a bit easier for you.

My thanks to Lance Whitney for these best practices for password management. Please share your tips or experiences with your own tech with the Sangat. Email me and tell me your story, and keep sending me your suggestions for column topics, along with your own favorite smartphone app recommendations and reviews so I can share them here. Just email them to me at [email protected]