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How to enable biometric login with Bitwarden

If you’d rather not have to enter your password every time you open the Bitwarden password manager on your mobile device, Jack Wallen shows you how to enable biometric login.


Image: Jack Wallen

I want to kick this year off by first reminding everyone they should be using a password manager to save credentials that are too challenging to memorize and, therefore, a bit harder to hack. Not impossible, but more of a challenge. Why do I remind you of this yet again? Because too many people are still holding out and using passwords that are too simple. 

If you can rattle off a single password from memory, that password is too easy. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, you might eventually memorize those challenging passwords that you have to enter multiple times per day. Or, you might have an eidetic memory–in which case, I envy you.

The lesson here is that a password manager should be considered a must.

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With that out of the way, let’s turn our focus on one particular password manager–Bitwarden.

Bitwarden is an open source option that does an outstanding job of keeping your passwords locked away and does so with a user interface that is easy enough for any user, regardless of experience.

If you happen to have a phone that includes a biometric login option (such as a fingerprint scanner), you can make it even easier to use the tool. Instead of having to enter your Bitwarden database unlock code every time you want to use the app, you can simply tap your finger to the fingerprint scanner (or look at your screen, in the case of facial recognition) and the app opens, ready to use.

How do you enable biometric login? It’s actually incredibly simple. Let me show you. 

Note: Taking screenshots of Bitwarden isn’t allowed for security reasons. To get around that, I’ve taken the images with another phone, which isn’t ideal, but it’ll help you see what you’re looking for.

With that said, let’s enable biometrics in Bitwarden.

What you’ll need

  • Bitwarden installed on your mobile device (either Android or iOS)

  • A device with a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition

How to enable biometric login

Open Bitwarden and tap the Settings tab at the bottom of the window. Under Security, tap Unlock with Biometrics (Figure A). Do note, this might also say Unlock With Facial Recognition or Face ID, depending on your device.

Figure A


The Biometrics option in the Bitwarden settings.

Tap the Biometrics or Face ID entry and, when prompted, either tap your finger to the fingerprint scanner or look at your device screen (Figure B).

Figure B


Prompted for a fingerprint scan on a Google Pixel 5.

Once you’ve successfully authenticated with biometrics, the setting is enabled. Now, every time you open Bitwarden, you’ll be prompted for a biometric scan, instead of having to enter your database passphrase.

The caveat

By enabling biometrics, it would be possible for anyone to take your phone and press your finger against the scanner or hold it up to your face to gain access to your passwords. Because of that, if you truly want your passwords safely locked away, you’ll not enable this feature and keep plugging away at typing your passphrase as normal.

However, if you feel safe that no one is going to force your hand (literally and figuratively), go ahead and enable biometrics. Of course, even if you don’t enable biometrics, if someone really wanted to get to those passwords, they probably would.

Either way, be safe out there–use your mobile device with a constant nod to security and caution.

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