Password managers are a crucial part of modern user security. How can you use sufficiently complex passwords if you can’t remember them? If you’re getting started with a password manager, you’ll want the best password manager for every platform. Just about every password manager offers multi-platform sync and support, but that doesn’t mean one password manager can rule them all.
Why Use a Password Manager?
Passwords are a terrible means of securing data. But they’re mostly terrible because people use them incorrectly. They repeat passwords, use short passwords and create easily-guessed passwords. The best way to overcome this weakness is removing the human from the equation.
When you use a password manager, you’re substituting a computer for your own abilities. And computers are awesome at storing and creating data, which is exactly what passwords do. A password manager securely stores your existing passwords, generates new complex passwords, and auto-fills passwords when you want to sign in to user accounts.
The Best Password Manager for Every Platform
Each password manager has its own quirks, but there are some clear winners in the pack. We’ve stuck mostly to commercial offerings in this review: while good free open-source password managers exist, they’re often not easy for the less technical to implement. Commercial password managers aren’t perfect, but you don’t have to worry about fixing your own problems.
On Windows, Dashlane is our favorite password manager. It has a complete feature set, including storage for everything from passwords to bank accounts. The browser extensions have magic-level auto-fill skills and provide contextual options for generating and saving new and secure passwords. Dashlane includes clients for macOS, iOS, and Android and starts at $40 per year.
LastPass makes a strong runner-up. LastPass, which is primarily a browser extension, provides a feature-rich free version and supports two-factor authentication, a somewhat rare feature in our collection. Dashlane doesn’t support 2FA, but its overall usability is better.
Our favorite macOS password manager is 1Password. The app is beautifully integrated with macOS, with a friendly aesthetic that matches Apple’s core software. It relies on context menu hooks to generate and fill passwords, as well as a menu bar icon and a full-featured application. Killer features like Travel Mode protect your passwords while crossing borders, and family plans can share passwords between accounts easily. You can also upload up to 1 GB of data to your secure vault, a rare and extremely valuable feature among password managers.
Dashlane is a solid runner-up for macOS, but it’s not as reliable as 1Password. In several years of use, we found Dashlane often filled information incorrectly or tried to autofill fields that had nothing to do with personal or account information. While 1Password doesn’t offer the same near-magic autofill, it’s also free from annoying bugs in that system.
1Password includes clients for iOS and Android, as well as Windows. User accounts start a $3/month, including global sync and 365-day backup of your account information.
Enpass is free on desktop, so the Linux version is no cost and open source. A mobile version is available for a one-time payment of $10, but you’ll have to provide your own sync in the form of Dropbox or similar cloud storage.
KeePassX is a more mature password manager that has many fans on Linux. It’s completely free but doesn’t include any kind of sync or mobile application. Auto-fill is also a little hit or miss (it’s listed as “experimental” in the feature set), but that could improve over time.
As in macOS, 1Password is our favorite iOS password manager. It includes all the top features you’ll want in a password manager on your device. It’s easy to search for and copy passwords, there’s tight integration with Safari and apps that support password managers, and logging into the app supports both Face ID and Touch ID.
Dashlane is an excellent second option. It’s not as tightly integrated with the Apple ecosystem as 1Password, but it includes many of the same features. Choose your mobile password manager based on sync capabilities with your primary desktop device.
Keeper is a multi-platform password manager, but it’s especially effective on Android. You’ll find the same features of other mobile password managers like secure password management and generation, but Keeper also sports super-simple password sharing and support for two-factor authentication with KeeperFill. That’s a killer feature that dramatically simplifies using more secure login methods, which is what password managers are all about.
Finding the right password manager is all about what fits your needs. Whatever you choose, make sure the manager fits comfortably with your needs and current workflow process. Security that’s difficult to use is security you’ll ignore.