How to Use the Firefox Password Manager

Plus, why you should set a master password



Using Firefox's built-in password manager may not give you the ability to create strong, randomized passwords, but it will let you view all the passwords you've saved with the browser, without having to use a third-party tool.

A Warning On Saving Passwords

Having your browser save your passwords isn’t always the best option. Why? Because if someone were to gain access to your account, they would also have access to all of your stored passwords. For those truly concerned about security, your best bet is to never allow your browser to save your passwords and make use of a traditional password manager.

Using the Firefox Password Manager

To make use of the Firefox Password Manager, follow these steps:

  1. Open Firefox.

  2. Click the Menu button.

    Screenshot of the Firefox menu button.
  3. Click Preferences.

    Screenshot of the Firefox Preferences menu entry.
  4. In the Preferences window, click Privacy & Security.

    Screenshot of the Privacy & Security entry.
  5. Scroll down to Logins & Passwords and click Saved Logins.

    Screenshot of the Saved Logins button.
  6. In the resulting window click Show Passwords.

    Screenshot of the Show Passwords button.
  7. When prompted, click Yes.

    Screenshot of the Yes/No prompt.
  8. Locate the entry you want to view, and the username and password is ready.

When you’ve finished, make sure to click Hide Passwords and then Close, to exit out of the Saved Logins window.

Protecting Those Logins

Hopefully, at this point, you see the flaw in this system. As it stands, anyone can access your saved passwords in Firefox. How do you prevent that? You enable the Firefox Master Password feature. With this enabled, no one will be able to view your passwords, unless they have the Master Password. In other words, once you’ve set that Master Password, the only way to access those saved passwords, is by entering the Master. This should be considered a must-use tool.

How do you set the Master Password? Simple:

  1. Open Firefox.

  2. Click the Menu button.

  3. Click Preferences.

  4. In the Preferences window, click Privacy & Security.

  5. Click the checkbox for Use a master password.

    Screenshot of the User a master password checkbox.
  6. When prompted, enter and verify a new password.

    Screenshot of the Master Password entry screen.
  7. Click OK.

That’s it. You’ve just secured your saved login credentials behind a master password. Just don’t forget that master password. If you do, you won’t have access to your stored login credentials.

Why Use a Password Manager

Passwords have become quite a hot topic over the last few years. Why? Because how they are typically used is most often insecure. This is mostly due to the fact that end-users opt to go the simple route. Passwords like password, password123, and 12345 are not only easy to crack but far more common than you might think.

That’s where a standard password manager comes into play. With a password manager like Enpass or 1Password, you can create very strong passwords (like #tUi89#_x) and have the password manager store that in a safe location. When you need to use that password, open the manager, type the password used to lock the vault, and you can copy that hard-to-memorize, strong password and paste it where you need it.

Why View Your Passwords

This is actually quite simple. Say you’ve saved usernames and passwords while using the Firefox browser. That means the browser will have stored your credentials, so you don’t always have to enter them every time you go to log into a website. What if you want to make use of those login credentials in either another browser or a mobile app? With the ability to view those credentials in Firefox, you can then easily copy them into the other tools. Without the ability to view them from within Firefox, you’d either have to guess the credentials or (if you’ve forgotten them) click the tried and true “Forgot Password”. Once you’ve reset that password, you can then use it with the other apps.

The best method, of course, is using a standard password manager. If you’re not up to that just yet (and you should eventually), the next best thing would be to work with the built-in Firefox password manager, as above.

Consider a Real Password Manager

Although the built-in Firefox Password Manager is a nice start (only if you protect it with a Master Password). If you’re serious about your security, you should consider adopting a real password manager (like the aforementioned Enpass or 1Password).