The best password managers of 2019 and how to use them
Stop trying to come up with clever, cryptic passwords that you struggle to keep in your head. With a secure and easy-to-use password manager, you can manage your login credentials across all your devices, keeping your passwords safe and automatically filling in forms and syncing your data across Windows, MacOS, Android phones and iPhones and iPads.
Simply, a password manager is an encrypted digital vault that stores the login information you use to access websites, apps and other services. Besides keeping your credentials, identity and sensitive data safe, a password manager can generate unique, strong passwords to ensure you aren’t reusing them across your services.and identity theft, using unique passwords can go a long way to ensuring if one site gets hacked, your stolen password can’t be used on other sites.
And with a manager, you don’t have to remember the various pieces of login information, such as credit-card information or shipping addresses. With just one master password — or in some cases a PIN or even your fingerprint you can autofill a form or password field. Some also feature online storage and an encrypted vault for storing documents.
All our best password manager picks come in free versions, which usually lets you securely store passwords for one device (although our pick for best free manager can be used across multiple devices). Our picks also feature subscription options that let you sync your log-in information across all your devices, share credentials with trusted family and friends and get access to secure online storage. And if transparency is important to you, several of our picks are open-source projects. We also look at what a password manager is and the basics of how to use one.
Note that these services are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
- Offers free version
- Base price beyond free: $36 per year
- Works with: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge and Opera.
Some of our other picks have a free option, but most lock you to just one device if you don’t pay up. The free version of LastPass stands out by giving you the ability to store passwords, user login info and credentials and sync all of it wherever you want — across desktop, mobile and browsers.
You can also share a login item with another person. For $36 a year, you can purchase the Premium version to share passwords, logins, memberships and other items with trusted emergency contacts, multifactor authentication through YubiKey and a fingerprint scanner and 1GB of encrypted storage.
And with a $48 annual subscription, you can sign up for the Families plan that gives you six individual accounts, shared folders and a dashboard interface for managing the accounts and keeping an eye on your account’s security.
- Offers trial version
- Base price: $35.88 per year
- Works with: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iPhone and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and Opera.
If you’re looking for a trusted password manager app to keep your login information private and secure, 1Password is up to the task, letting you access your accounts and services with one master password. It’s available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux and Chrome OS.
The nicely designed manager lacks a free version, but you can try for free for 30 days before signing up. An individual subscription runs $36 a year, and comes with 1GB of document storage and optional two-factor authentication for additional security. A travel mode lets you remove your 1Password sensitive data from your device when you travel and then restore it with one click when you return.
On Macs, you can use Touch ID to unlock 1Password, and on iOS devices, you can use Face ID too. For $60 a year, you can cover a family of five, sharing passwords, credit cards and anything else among the group. Each person gets their own vault, and it’s easy to control who you share information with and what they can do with it.
You can also create separate guest accounts to share Wi-Fi connection passwords, for example, or home alarm codes with guests.