Whether you’re looking to make a change in your password management just because, or you’re a LastPass user annoyed with the service’s recent changes to its free tier, switching to the much-loved (and free) Bitwarden service is a good choice. Bitwarden is now the best free password manager for most people — since it works across all of your devices to add convenience and security to your logins — and setting it up is quick and easy.
To get started, head to Bitwarden’s site and create an account. It’s free to do, and all you need to worry about is giving yourself a solid master password. Make it a good one, and one that you don’t use anywhere else, because it’ll be one of the gatekeepers for all of your other passwords that you’ll store on the service. Once you’ve created your account and logged in, make sure you verify your email address using the option in the upper-right corner.
If you’re coming from another service — like LastPass, for example — you’ll want to find a tool you can use to export your passwords. On LastPass, this is tucked away under the Advanced Options link at the bottom; exporting your passwords basically transforms them into a simple .CSV list.
You then copy the list (which I’m not screenshotting, for obvious reasons) directly into Bitwarden via the Tools menu > Import Data.
Your passwords will all appear in your main screen, and should also synchronise to your various Bitwarden apps the next time you go to use them. To edit any of your passwords, simply click on the hyperlink for a given site or service. You can also use the gear icon that appears when you hover over each listing to copy your user name or password directly to your clipboard.
Those are the basics of Bitwarden, but you’re not quite done yet. Click on the profile image in the upper-right corner and select My Account. From there, click on Two-step login in the left-most sidebar.
Here is where you’ll set up two-factor authentication for your account — this isn’t required in order for you to use Bitwarden, but it’s highly recommended to keep your account secure from unauthorised logins. You can choose to have 2FA codes emailed to you to verify any login attempts, but I recommend you use an authenticator app instead. They’re similarly easy to set up, and act like a password manager for all your two-factor authentication tokens.
You might also want to visit the Options link on the lefthand sidebar, which will let you adjust your Vault timeout — as in, how long it’ll stay open from the last time you accessed it. Go past that time, and you’ll have to enter your password once again. Turn this down if you’re on a shared computer, and consider turning it up a bit if you’re feeling especially secure in your setup.
After that, grab all the Bitwarden apps and extensions you’ll need for your devices and browsers. Installing them is easy, and they grant you access to everything you’ve stored in your Bitwarden vault. In the case of your browser, for example, you’ll simply need to right-click on a password prompt to pull up your Bitwarden autofill:
And that’s it. Bitwarden’s free version doesn’t offer a ton of features — no checking your saved passwords for leaks, for example — but it does give you an quick and easy way to synchronise passwords across all your devices. What’s not to like?