Select Page

How to use Microsoft Authenticator as your password manager

How to use Microsoft Authenticator as your password manager
Laptop screen covered with sticky notes of passwords

iStockphoto/Getty Images

I use a password manager on my PC and mobile devices. For me, it’s still the best way, and really the only way, to juggle all the unique and complex passwords for my online accounts. I’d advise all website users to adopt a password manager for the same purpose. But if you don’t have a dedicated password manager and you already use Microsoft Authenticator for two-factor authentication, you can enlist that app for password management.

Microsoft Authenticator can generate, store, and apply passwords at websites via an autofill feature. Beyond supporting iOS, iPadOS, and Android devices, the autofill option works in the desktop flavors of Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge via an extension.

If you need to download Microsoft Authenticator on your mobile device, grab it for iOS, iPadOS, or Android. Open the app and tap the Passwords icon on the bottom toolbar. Your first job is to add the credentials for your online accounts. You can import them all in one shot from another browser or add each one manually.

Also: Windows will now warn when you do bad things with passwords

Import passwords from Chrome

To help you import them, a notice should automatically pop up asking if you already have passwords saved in other apps. Tap the notice. If the notice fails to appear, go to Settings, scroll down the screen, and select the setting for Import Passwords. For this process, you can import passwords from Google Chrome or from a CSV file. To go the Chrome route, tap the link or button for Import from Google Chrome. Follow the steps to run this process in Chrome.

Three screenshots showing the options to import from Google Chrome or import from CSV file.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

In Chrome on your mobile device, go to Settings > Passwords. Select the option for Export Passwords. Tap the button for Export Passwords. At the iOS or Android Share screen, choose Authenticator as the destination. You’re returned to Microsoft Authenticator where the imported passwords appear.

Three screenshots showing the option to export passwords to the Authenticator destination.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Import passwords from a CSV file

If you don’t use Chrome on your phone, or most of your passwords are stored in a different browser, you can import your credentials via a CSV file. For that, you first export your passwords from your chosen browser into the CSV format. The specific steps for this vary depending on the browser. In general, though, you’ll want to find the Passwords screen in your browser and look for a command for Export logins or Export passwords. Choose the CSV format.

Whether you export the passwords on your mobile device or PC, you’ll need to make the CSV file available for your device, which you can do by copying it to a backup and sharing service, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, or iCloud.

Also: Break up with LastPass: How to use iCloud as a password manager on Windows

In the Microsoft Authenticator app, tap the notice asking if you have passwords saved in other apps or go to Settings and select the setting for Import Passwords. This time, choose the option for Import from CSV. Navigate to the location and folder where you saved the CSV file and select it. Your imported passwords then appear.

Three screenshots showing option to import from CSV.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Manually add a password

Of course, you can also manually add a new account to the app. At the Passwords screen, tap the + (plus) sign to add a password. Then type the URL, username, and password for the website account you want to add. When done, tap Save.

Three screenshots showing how to manually add a password with Microsoft Authenticator.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Generate a password

Microsoft Authenticator can create a password for a new account or an existing account. In the iPhone app, tap the three-dot icon and select Password Generator. In the Android version, tap the + icon and select Generate password. Tap the link for Customize Password to set the complexity and length for the password, opting to include or exclude letters, numbers, and special characters. Tap the refresh icon to generate a different password. When done, tap the button for Copy Password to paste it elsewhere. Otherwise, tap the disk icon to use the password in a new account that you want to add to the app.

Three screenshots showing password generator in Microsoft Authenticator.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: How to protect and secure your password manager

Use Autofill

The Authenticator app will automatically fill in your username and password for saved online accounts. But first, you need to enable the feature. On an iPhone, go to Settings > Passwords > AutoFill Passwords. Turn on the switch for AutoFill Passwords and select Authenticator to make it the default autofill app. Also, uncheck any other apps in the autofill list. On an Android phone, go to Settings in the Authenticator app. Turn on the switches for Set as autofill provider and AutoFill on more apps and sites.

Three screenshots using autofill option for password.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

On an iPhone, autofill from third-party apps such as Microsoft Authenticator works only with Safari. But you can also use it with any app for that needs a login. Open Safari and browse to one of the websites or open one of the apps for which your credentials are stored in the Authenticator app. Tap the field for username. In some cases, a button for Authenticator will display your correct name. If so, tap that button. Tap the field for password and then tap the button for your account name.

Three screenshots showing Amazon sign in page.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

In other cases, a key icon appears just above the keyboard. Tap that icon, and the Authenticator app displays the account. Select your account name in the app. The fields for username and password are then populated. Tap the Sign in button, and you’re logged into the site or app.

Three screenshots showing the LinkedIn login page.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

On an Android phone, the autofill process is similar to that on an iPhone. Open your preferred browser or open a specific app. Tap the username field, and the account name from the Authenticator app will appear above or below the field. Tap that name. For the password field, the account name appears above the keyboard. Tap that name and then sign into the Authenticator app. The username and password fields should both be populated, allowing you to sign in to the site or app.

Three screenshots showing TechRepublic login page.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: The 6 best password managers: Easily maintain all your logins

Use Edge and Chrome on the desktop

Finally, you can use the Microsoft Authenticator autofill feature in the desktop versions of Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome via an extension. In Chrome or Edge, go to the Chrome web store link for Microsoft AutoFill and add the extension to the browser. Browse to a site for which the account is saved in Authenticator. Click the username field, and your account name should appear below it. Click the name, and Authenticator will sign you in to the site.

Zoom sign in page.