How many of your website passwords do you actually remember? If you're like me, probably none. I have grown to rely on my browser saving my every login and password. There are just too many websites that I log in to all the time. And since different sites require different combinations of upper case letters, numbers and/or special characters, it's impossible to use one master password for every website (which is also not a safe practise). Your browser's autosave function is incredibly helpful in this regard, but it comes with its own problems.
Have you ever tried to change your password and not been able to remember what it is?
Have you ever been using a different computer or browser and not been able to remember your saved password?
Staring at those saved password asterisks doesn't help either - oftentimes they display a different number of asterisks than the actual length of your password.
The good news is, no matter what browser you are using, revealing the password saved behind those asterisks is only a few clicks away, making it easy to recover. So easy, in fact, you might want to rethink saving your passwords in your browser in the first place!
(Because if it's this easy for you to find every one of your saved passwords, then anybody with access to your computer can also find them!)
How to recover saved passwords in Chrome:
Just click on the Menu drop down (usually located in the top right of Chrome), then choose "settings."
-Under settings, scroll down (you may have to click on "show advanced settings") until you get to "passwords and forms."
-Click on "manage saved passwords," and this is where the magic happens! (see screenshot below) Here you will see a list of all the websites you have saved a password for. Simply click on the asterisks hiding the password, and then click on "show."
Those saved passwords are not so hidden now, are they?
In my opinion, Chrome is the most user-friendly browser and my favorite to use. The integration of Google search into the address bar makes it extremely useful and fast to use. Just remember how easy it is to use the next time Chrome prompts you to save a login! (If it was that easy for you to access your sensitive saved info, then anybody else with access to your computer could too.)
How to recover saved passwords in Firefox:
Much like in Chrome, you just need to click on the Menu drop down (usually located in the top right of Firefox), and then choose "options".
In the "options" pop up window, select the security tab.
Under the security tab, you will see the "Saved Passwords" button:
Simply click on this nefarious "Saved Passwords" button and Firefox will divulge all of your hidden info!
You'll see 4 columns: "site" , "username" , "last used" , "last changed" for every website that you have saved a login.
But where are your saved passwords, you ask?
They are hidden under an extra layer of super-secret security - you must click on yet another button labeled "Show Passwords," and a fifth column appears, right in between "username" and "last used."
Those saved passwords are still not very hidden in Firefox, are they?
How to recover saved passwords in IE (Internet Explorer):
Saved passwords in IE (Internet Explorer) are the hardest to find, but it is possible!
This is because Microsoft has integrated Internet Explorer with Windows and added an extra layer of security to hide those saved passwords, actually saving them in Windows instead of Internet Explorer.
But it's still not too difficult to find them, you just have to know where to look:
In Windows, simply start at the "start menu," then choose "control panel."
In the "control panel" window, select "user accounts and family safety", then select "user accounts" again.
(This path may be slightly different on your computer, depending on what version of Windows you are using, but the basic location remains the same - if you are finding yourself lost in Windows at this point, then just skip ahead to the Windows workaround solution next!)
You should find yourself on a screen that looks something like this:
Next, click on "manage your credentials" in the left menu as shown above. This is where it can get complicated. You will have to:
Click the vault that contains the credential that you want to manage.
Select the credential you want to manage.
Some people are able to see their saved logins here, and some people are not. It has to do with your Windows user account security settings.
Instead of drilling down further into the inner workings of Microsoft Windows and attempting to change these settings, if you are unable to find your saved logins here, just use the following workaround instead:
Recover saved passwords in IE (Internet Explorer) workaround:
Internet Explorer knows how to make finding your saved logins extremely difficult, in true Microsoft fashion. But as we've seen above, Chrome makes it extremely easy (in true Google fashion). So if you're struggling in Windows, why not just use the easy Google way? Try this:
1. If you haven't yet, download and install the newest Google Chrome. (then say goodbye to IE and use it forevermore!)
2. Open Chrome and under the menu drop down in the top right corner, choose "settings." Then, under the Users section, click "Import bookmarks and settings."
3. Make sure the "From:" box contains "Microsoft Internet Explorer", tick all of the boxes, then click "Import."
4. Restart Chrome, go to the website you want to retrieve a password for and login using the remembered credentials.
5. Next, repeat the steps outlined above on how to recover saved passwords in Chrome and Voilà!
You win, and Microsoft loses!
Is it safe to save passwords in my browser?
I'll let you answer that question for yourself!
It is my opinion that the latest internet virus or malware may not be the biggest threat out there - it could be your snoopy neighbors or office colleagues who have access to your computer that could do you the most harm.
As demonstrated above, your logins and saved passwords for accounts on Amazon or other sites that save your credit card information are only a few clicks away from being used by anybody with access to your computer.
Your saved logins in Chrome, Firefox, and even IE are definitely not secure and should not be trusted with this valuable information.
Of the three browsers, Firefox would probably be the most secure as it gives users the option to set one master password in order to access all of your saved passwords. Just remember, that once you've set a master password, you'll need to enter it the first time you go to use a saved login, and every time you want Firefox to remember a new password, for each Firefox session. And you'll need to enter this master password if you want to view and edit your saved passwords, but beware, because if you forget it, you'll be locked out of all your other passwords!
The next time your browser prompts you to save a password, you decide for yourself - personally, I don't think I'll be saving any more passwords in my browsers!
I'm going back to the old-fashioned "offline method" of saving passwords, writing them down in an address book that I can safely hide or carry around with me without worrying about who has access to my computer.