How to install and use Firefox Lockbox

Firefox Lockbox allows you to easily view your saved Firefox passwords and is a viable tool for certain users.

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Image: Jack Wallen

In today's world, not using a password manager is akin to going back to dial-up networking. It's outdated thinking that could land you in a steaming pile of frustration. Fortunately, there are quite a large number of password managers out there, ready to steal your attention. Many of those password managers are great tools.

Personally, I use Enpass to not only secure my passwords but to generate strong, complicated strings of characters that I cannot memorize. But to some, password managers like Enpass are overkill. Certain users types want simplicity and ease of use. That's where the likes of Firefox Lockbox comes in handy.

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)

Firefox Lockbox (available for both Android and iOS) is seamlessly integrated into the Mozilla browser, so if you're already using Firefox with a Firefox account, you're one step ahead than with any other password manager.

But Lockbox does come with a couple of caveats, the first of which is that it is severely limited in features. With Lockbox, you cannot create new login entries, or generate random passwords. The second is that Firefox Lockbox only integrates with its namesake, the Firefox Browser. So ultimately, Firefox Lockbox is nothing more than a simple means of viewing and copying saved passwords from the Firefox browser.

To some, that can still be a handy tool.

Let's install Firefox Lockbox and see what it has to offer. I'll demonstrate on Android Pie. Although the installation on iOS will differ, the usage of the app will be the same.

Installation

The first thing to do is to install the app. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
  2. Search for Firefox Lockbox.
  3. Locate and tap the entry by Mozilla.
  4. Tap Install.
  5. Allow the installation to complete.

Once installed, you'll find a launcher for the app on the home screen or in the App Drawer (or both). Tap the launcher and you're ready to go.

Usage

Note: Firefox Lockbox disables the taking of screenshots, so the following instructions will be text-only.

The first thing you must do is sign into your Firefox account. This is the same account used to sync instances of Firefox. Once you've authenticated with your account, you will be asked which autofill service to use. What services are offered will depend on if you have a password manager installed. By default, you will be offered:

  • None
  • Google
  • Lockbox

If you have a third-party password manager (such as Enpass), it will be offered as well. For the purpose of this article, we'll select Google (as it is the default). Once you've selected your autofill service, tap the back button and then tap FINISH.

At this point, every password you have saved in the Firefox browser will be available to view and copy. Tap on an entry and either tap the view button (eye icon) to see the password, or the copy icon, so you can paste the password into a password field.

That's where the functionality of Firefox Lockbox ends. You may ask yourself, "Then why bother?" That, my friends, is a good question. As it stands, Firefox Lockbox is really nothing more than a way to view the passwords saved in Firefox. That's a fairly limited feature set. You cannot create new entries (a task which must be handled in Firefox). However, there is a benefit to having Firefox Lockbox.

There are times when you want to use an app for a service (instead of the website). When you do that, you're going to need those credentials. Instead of having to open the Firefox browser and go through the motions of viewing your passwords, just install Lockbox and take those passwords with you. Of course, if you already have the Firefox browser installed on your mobile device, Lockbox only really serves as a redundancy. If, on the other hand, you only use Firefox on the desktop, and Chrome as your go-to mobile browser, Lockbox makes it possible to gain access to those Firefox passwords, without having the Mozilla browser installed.

A weak choice—with possibility

That's a fairly thin justification for installing yet another app on your device. Given how little Firefox Lockbox actually does at the moment, it's a hard sell. With this app, you cannot create new logins, generate strong passwords, export passwords, or sync to third-party services. Because of that, I'll stick with Enpass as my password manager. After all, the goal should be to not save passwords in your browser (at least for the strongest possible security). But then, Firefox Lockbox isn't really a password manager, but rather a password viewer.

Fortunately, Mozilla stated they are exploring options for future releases. Hopefully those options will help make Firefox Lockbox a more useful tool. Until then, if you're a Firefox user and want a faster way of viewing/copying saved passwords, Firefox Lockbox might just be the tool for you.

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By Jack Wallen

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 jackwallen.com.