Security

How to use Android Marshmallow's Smart Lock for Passwords

If you need a password manager but don't want to rely on third-party software, here's the solution...so long as your Android device runs Marshmallow.

Image: iStockphoto.com/AntoinetteW

In the never-ending quest for better security on its flagship platform, Google rolled out an interesting service with Marshmallow (Android 6). This service is called Smart Lock for Passwords, and it saves and syncs your passwords from your mobile device to the new Google Passwords site. From that site you can view and delete passwords, enable auto-login, and even disable Smart Lock for Passwords.

This new service is slightly different than your run-of-the-mill password manager, because it doesn't include its own app for viewing and deleting passwords; instead, you enable the service on your device and then manage it on the Google Passwords site.

SEE: Android Marshmallow: The smart person's guide

A word of warning

You should have already enabled two-factor authentication with your Google account. Yes, Google has some of the best cloud security on the planet, but that security ends when the user hasn't taken the necessary steps to secure their account.

If your Google account password is password, chances are good your account will be hacked. If your account is hacked, someone could hop on over to passwords.google.com, log into your account, and see every password you've synced. To that end, two-factor authentication should not be considered an option.

Using Smart Lock for Passwords

It's quite simple to use Smart Lock for Passwords: go to Settings | Google and scroll down until you see Smart Lock For Passwords. Tap on the Smart Lock For Passwords entry, and you'll see all of the controls available (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen

Smart Lock for Passwords on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6.

Out of the box, Smart Lock for Passwords and Auto Sign-in will be enabled, though you can disable either and even add apps to exclude from the service. To add an app, tap the + sign and then select the app to be excluded from the popup list.

Using the Smart Lock for Passwords website

If you head on over to the Smart Lock for Passwords website, you'll see that you can disable the service or auto sign-in. Below the main controls, you'll see listings for every password you've used. Associated with each entry is a show password and a delete entry button. If you need to view a particular password, click the "eye" button. To remove an entry, click the associated X ( Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B
Image: Jack Wallen

Managing your password entries from the website.

Try it today

As long as you've enabled two-factor authentication (which you should), Smart Lock for Passwords can serve as an outstanding password manager for your entire Google ecosystem (Android, Chrome, Chrome OS). If you're not using two-factor authentication, you should stop now and set it up immediately...then use Smart Lock for Passwords.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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