It’s common sense that everyone should be using a good password manager (we hope, at least). It’s also worth noting that password managers have tons of other amazing features that you might not be using. These features are both convenient and security-centric, and they can help you stay safe online and get the most out of your password manager.
Everyone knows the primary feature of a password manager—to store your login credentials—but they can also do tons of other cool things, like alert you to security breaches or store important files. Of course, the features a particular password manager has varies depending on which one you’re looking at, but we rounded up all of the most common features you can expect to see in any of the most popular ones.
Update, 12/4/21: Verified all links and text up to date.
Enter Your Login Info for You
Generate Secure New Passwords on the Spot
Store Other Information, Besides Passwords
Store Important Documents and Photos
Provide a Place to Take Secure Notes
Audit Your Passwords to Make Sure They're Strong and Safe
Let You Share Files with Others
Offer Secure Web Browsing
Protect Your Account with Two-Factor Authentication
Monitor Your Passwords for Breaches
Without further ado, here are some other features password managers have to offer. They can:
What’s not to like about something that will fill in your stored credentials for you whenever you attempt to log in to a website? Some managers can even fill in additional fields, like contact information and credit card information. This feature is available on both mobile and desktop use so you can expect assistance no matter what device you’re using.
On-demand password generation is one of the best features of password managers. Any password manager worth its salt should be able to create a random and secure password for you whenever you need one. It’s a simple, yet nice, feature, as it means you won’t ever have to come up with a less-than-unique password ever again. A good manager should also automatically update your login info with the new password it creates (or at least prompt you to).
Did you know that your password manager can store other types of information besides passwords? Yep. They can also store things like contact information or credit card numbers. Typically, this information can also be auto-filled when you need it (say, when you’re shopping or putting in your lunch delivery order online).
Certain managers can also store things like bank account numbers, social security numbers, Wi-Fi router or server information, membership information, driver’s license details and other ID information, software licenses, and digital copies of physical documents. Really, the sky’s the limit here.
As kind of an extension to storing non-password information, many password managers also offer a decent amount of secure file storage. This isn’t necessarily meant to replace or be used the same way you’d use regular cloud storage, like Dropbox or Google Drive; it’s more meant to be a way to store digitized copies of important documents (like a will, title, letter, or passport) in a secure encrypted format.
Many password managers offer a space where you can make notes (and it’s a great way to keep important thoughts and information away from prying eyes). Sure you can use them just like a standard note-taking app, but this function is designed more for any type of text you’d want to keep password protected. This might include instructions for logging in to a specific site or directions to your buried treasure.
Typically, you’ll have the ability to share any notes you create with others (even if they don’t use the same password manager) and assign a label or tag to them for easy searching. You should also be able to import or export files and toggle password protection as needed.
In addition to storing your passwords, good managers can also scan and assess them to see how strong or old they are, if you’re using duplicates (that’s a no-no!), or even if one has been compromised. Security scans usually don’t take long and can provide helpful suggestions for how to strengthen your overall password security. Good managers can even suggest new passwords right on the spot, so all you’ll have to do is log in to the corresponding website and update your password.
You might want or need to share some of all of your login info or secure notes with another user at some point (your spouse, for example). A good password manager should make it easy to do so and have built-in options for sharing something with another user on your plan or potentially even someone who doesn’t use that manager.
Good password managers also offer emergency access in the event of, well, an emergency. Typically, this grants a one-time easement into an account during a short period of time. This would most likely be used in the event of someone passing away, so a loved one could access their accounts to stop bills, for example.
Some managers offer their own options for safely browsing the web, typically via their own secure inbuilt browser or virtual private network (VPN). Either option is nice to have any time you are using a public Wi-Fi connection, like at a restaurant or café, or are needing anonymous and secure browsing.
Password managers can also double as two-factor authentication (2FA). If you’re unfamiliar with the term, 2FA is an additional way to keep your online accounts secure, like having to scan your face or fingerprint to unlock your phone, plug in a security key, or enter one of those six-digit SMS or email codes to access your Twitter account. That’s in addition to typing in your account password.
Good password managers offer two-factor authentication for keeping that account safe from a hacker. Similar to 2FA options for other sites (like Twitter), your manager might send you a notification with a code to scan or enter in addition to typing in your password, before letting you access your account. These notifications will also double as a handy alert in the event someone else attempts to log in to one of your accounts.
Because password managers already know your log in info, it makes sense that they should also be able to scan the web (including the dark web) to see if it comes up in a known security breach. Certain managers offer this feature and will alert you in the event one of your passwords is thought to be compromised. This keeps you ahead of the curve and gives you the opportunity to change a breached password before the hacker has a chance to use the one they uncovered.
The best password managers will also actively protect you against phishing. They’ll remember the original site you created an account on, and prevent you from entering your information if you somehow end up on a different account posing as the original. While your manager won’t pop up with a huge red flag, you’ll be able to know it’s a phishing site as it won’t autofill your credentials.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of how robust and awesome password managers are. They’re worthwhile even if you just use them to store your passwords, but their artillery of convenient security features is what really makes password managers worth the cost.