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How to Set Up Bitwarden

Bitwarden is a password manager that is Open Source, (aka Free as in Speech as well as Free as in Beer). The free portion is feature-rich and convenient for most purposes, containing all the features of a solid password manager, including encryption, and synchronizing between devices.

  1. First, you need to create a Bitwarden account. You can create this account on but be sure to store your Master Password in a safe space such as a safe, because this is what encrypts your other passwords.
  2. Next, you can optionally import your passwords from other password managers, including the built-in ones of browsers such as Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. Instructions for importing passwords from your existing password managers are available here:
  3. After you have imported your passwords, it’s a good idea to install the applications and extensions for Bitwarden on your computer, your web browser(s), and on your mobile devices. Download links for all of these are available here:
  4. To configure the Bitwarden Desktop application, be sure to set configure a PIN login and enable other forms of access, such as Windows Hello on which allows for biometric access on a Windows computer with a fingerprint sensor or a supported infrared camera. You can set the time limit for how long the program will stay accessible before locking out the vault.
  5. The browser extensions can be set to autofill passwords on websites, but this setting is turned off by default. Additionally, the extension has a time-out limit for how long before the extension will lock out access to the vault. Be sure to disable the built-in password managers on your web browser to ensure you don’t save passwords there in the future and be sure to disable any previous password managers you used to use.
  6. On your mobile device, if you are running Android, you can have Bitwarden auto-fill passwords into mobile applications. You can additionally have fingerprint authentication to allow easy access to your vault if you have a fingerprint sensor. Some additional accessibility settings will need to be enabled to give the app the ability to do this autofill capability. iOS devices aren’t currently capable, but the app will still allow you to copy/paste passwords to and from your clipboard.
  7. All websites and apps are listed in Bitwarden with a name, and the URL, and with fields for your username and password. Additionally, there are notes fields, and Bitwarden will keep a password history of previous passwords that were saved. The URL can be exact, or approximate, such as “starting with” or otherwise. For many uses, the default should be fine, but if you have duplicates, you can adjust your settings for individual sites or across the app you are using.
  8. You can protect your Bitwarden account with 2-Factor-Authentication using apps such as Authy and Google Authenticator. Be sure to store any backup codes offline, because if you lose access, you will not be able to restore your account.