Google Password Manager – that is something we all have used at least once in our lifetime. That is because almost all of us have a Google account and most of us use Google Chrome browser, and Google’s password manager is integrated with Google services. This means, you do not have to do anything extra to take advantage of the password manager.
It is quite simple and effective. It does stuff like saving your password, auto filling login forms, etc.
There is no need for downloading any additional application or installing a browser extension. It just happens to be present there in obscurity, doing its job whenever needed. And the best part is that it is completely free. It is open source with no strings attached.
But the lingering question is, just how good is it? Is it good enough to compete with dedicated password manager apps? How about the security?
There are several questions that must be answered. In this review, I am going to answer those question and give you a quick walkthrough of the process of using Google Password Manager. So, if you have some time, read through this writeup to gain valuable knowledge.
Let me start with the advantages and disadvantages!
The Pros and Cons of Google Password Manager
Just like every software application, Google Password Manager also comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages. What are those pros and cons?
Here is what you need to know:
- It is free and open source. It is present there by default.
- It is available on any device that runs Google Chrome.
- There are no device limitations. You can use it on as many devices as you want.
- It can capture login form values and autofill them.
- It can even save credit card numbers and addresses.
- It can generate strong and unique passwords.
- It will allow you to manage all your account information centrally.
- It gives proactive protection from phishing.
- There is some encryption available to prevent password theft.
- It can detect any password that has been previously compromised and asks you to change it immediately.
Could not understand a few points here? Do not worry! Detailed explanations will follow shortly, but before that, let us go through the cons.
- It is not compatible with any other browser except Google Chrome.
- It cannot work with desktop software products.
- There is no upgrade option available. What is there is there! You must stay happy with the limitations.
- It cannot be used offline.
- It will not allow you to share passwords with people you trust.
- It lacks two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
- It does not have a PBKDF2 key derivation function that can reduce vulnerabilities to brute force attacks.
- It does have some encryption available, but it is not 256-bit AES encryption.
Okay, now that you know the pros and cons of Google Password Manager, let us quickly go through the reasons why you should be using Google Password Manager.
Top Reasons for Using Google Password Manager
Auto Detection and Auto Fill
Google Password Manager can automatically detect the inputs of any registration or login form. It will immediately offer saving the username and password for future use.
If you agree, the password manager will store the details, and later, when you try to login to the same website, it will auto fill the login form with the credentials it had previously saved.
Strong Password Generation
Many people use identical or similar password for their online accounts. That is a terrible practice to say the least. While using the same or similar password for all online services is convenient, it is a security disaster from the standpoint of cybersecurity.
If a cyber criminal gets access to one account, he or she can get access to all accounts. That is the reason why you should be using different passwords for different accounts. Google Password Manager helps to get around this problem by generating strong and unique passwords for every site you use.
What is interesting is that Google will try to give you the best and strongest password that an online service will accept and then save it for one-click auto-fill so that you do not have to remember the passwords and that all accounts you have, have different passwords.
Problem Password Detection
Google Password Manager will check all your passwords and compare them with compromised passwords database. If it finds a match, it will warn you and ask you to change the username and password combination.
The Google Password Manager will arrange and organize all your account passwords and usernames in a single place allowing room for central management. You can access them directly from your Chrome browser.
If your Chrome browser is synced across different devices, you can access all your account details from all those devices.
Phishing attacks are a real threat. Cyber criminals are known to often clone entire website and redirect you to those sites. When you try to log in, those fake sites capture your username and passwords.
If you are using Google Password Manager, it will immediately recognize the site as a phishing site and prevent loading of username and password, thereby keeping you safe from phishing attacks.
The Major Problems of Google Password Manager
Encryption and Security
Standalone password managers take various security measures to keep your usernames and passwords safe. The usual protection features include zero-knowledge encryption, two-factor authentication and so on.
While Google Password Manager gives the necessary security, it does not offer specialized stuff that standalone password managers offer. Google’s offering is not a subscription-based system. It is a part of a bigger system. So, it gets the same protection as the rest of the Google infrastructure gets, including Gmail and other Google services.
The thing is that Google is not particularly well-known for transparency, and neither it is famous for privacy. In fact, Google is quite infamous when it comes to privacy protection.
So, if you think that Google will not read your username and password combinations, you may be demanding too much. In fact, zero-knowledge encryption is not even available for Google’s paid services like Google Drive (paid version). Only standalone subscription-based password managers will offer such a thing.
However, you can rest assured that Google has sophisticated security systems in place. There are various encryption techniques in use, and they also have strong internal controls to ensure that they keep user information safe from hackers.
In fact, Google has a Vulnerability Reward Program in which they invite hackers to find vulnerabilities in their systems and close those sneaky doors before trouble comes knocking in.
Google is quite famous providing secure emails, secure web searches and cloud storage. So, you can reasonably assume that they will keep your data protected from cyber criminals. However, you can never be sure about whether Google itself is snooping around or not!
Truth being told – Google knows every detail of your online presence if you are handing over your data to Google. They use that data to make money. Thus, do not be foolish in thinking that Google does not know your usernames and passwords. It does!
The Google Password Manager is designed to work within the Google ecosystem. It will not work outside that. This is where the subscription-based password managers come in. They can work with any service you can think of.
Well, Google will work with Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS if you are using Google products only. For instance, you may be using Google Chrome on your Mac or iOS. If your browser is synced across different devices, you will get to access your passwords and usernames.
However, you cannot get that benefit if you switch browser and user Firefox! Here is a quick list of app compatibility:
- Google Chrome / Chromium: Compatible
- Mozilla Firefox: Not Compatible
- Opera: Not Compatible
- Microsoft Edge: Not Compatible
- Safari: Not Compatible
- Internet Explorer (who the hell uses it now): Not Compatible
- Any other browser: Not Compatible
- Windows: Compatible only when you are using Chrome
- Mac: Compatible only when you are using Chrome
- Android: Compatible if you are using Chrome
- iOS: Compatible if you are using Chrome
- Linux: Compatible if you are using Chrome
- Chrome OS: Compatible
So, no matter which operating system or platform you are using, if you are using Google Chrome, you should be able to use Google Password Manager.
Out of your business needs or your personal requirements, you may need to share passwords safely and securely. The subscription-based standalone password managers allow you to share passwords with other users. This feature, along with the security measures they offer, make them insanely popular.
Unfortunately, Google Password Manager does not have any such feature. If you want to share password, you must copy it and find a mode to sending the password to the intended recipient. The problem is that none of the methods that you use can be as safe as the methods provided by standalone password managers.
How to Use Google Password Manager?
Using Google Password Manager is extremely simple.
When you register to a site for the first time through Google Chrome browser, the password manager will kick in and offer to save the password and username. You will see something like this:
You can choose to allow Google Password Manager to save the details, or you can make it never ask you again for saving the password and username.
The next time you try to log in, the password manager will kick in once again and offer auto fill. It will also give you a quick link to manage your passwords:
Clicking on the password (hidden) will fill in the password. If the username field is also blank, the password manager will fill that as well.
Once the fields are populated, you can click the login or the sign in button.
It is really that simple!
Unfortunately, the simplicity is restricted to and available only on Google Chrome browser. This will not work on any other browser. You can, however, use the password managers of other browsers.
In case you click on the Manage Passwords link during the autofill event, it will take you to Chrome’s autofill settings page (chrome://settings/passwords) where you can click on the vertical ellipsis menu to copy, edit, or remove password.
That page will also show you the list of websites for which you never saved the passwords. You can remove them one by one by clicking on the cross icon. Once you remove them from the Never Saved list, the next time you try to login to those website, Google Password Manager will offer saving the passwords.
Google Password Manager Pricing
Google Password Manager is a free product. You cannot buy it or upgrade to a higher or better version because there is no such version available.
There is no family and team plan available. If you are using Gmail for Business (Google Workspace), you can use the password manager without any additional charges.
Do I recommend using Google Password Manager? Well, it does give you a simple and effective method of saving and managing your passwords, and it is free! You can always use this password manager.
However, if you are looking for a traditional password manager, Google Password Manager is not the one you should be looking at. It is a browser-based tool compatible only with Google ecosystem.
If you want a password manager that works in every ecosystem, you are better off purchasing a subscription with one of the many popular password managers available in the market such as 1Password, NordPass, Dashlane, etc.
Not only will they give you cross-ecosystem compatibility, but at the same time you will get features like zero-knowledge encryption, two-factor authentication, and more!
Whether or not you should use Google Password Manager will depend on your specific needs. If you are not a big fan of Google ecosystem, you must look somewhere else.