Ask for biometrics on launch

I am using Bitwarden within Firefox on a Mac. There are two options in the settings:

  • Unlock with biometrics
  • Ask for biometrics on launch

I have searched these forums and the official documentation and can not find any explanation of what the expected behavior is for these settings.

I understand that Bitwarden does not support biometrics to work directly in the browser (seems like other password managers do) and requires the desktop app to be running and the only reason I’ve installed the desktop app is for this feature. I have no other desire or need for the desktop app. With both options enabled, I would expect that the desktop app is opened when it needs my biometrics and then quit once it’s been completed. What actually happens is my macOS dock shows as if the app is about to launch but is immediately quits before the icon even fully displays. The extension then complains with an error:

The Bitwarden desktop application needs to be started before unlock with biometrics can be used.

Bitwarden Biometrics Issue

Is this a known bug or is there an issue with my system? Without updated documentation, it’s hard to understand what the correct or expected behavior for this feature is.

The title of the linked article about 1Password includes the disclaimer “Biometrics require the desktop app to be installed”. How is this different from Bitwarden?

In the screen recording within the article, it shows how the browser can seamlessly prompt for biometrics without having to open the desktop app. That is the behavior I trying to accomplish within Bitwarden/Firefox/macOS.

You can’t tell from that screen recording whether the desktop app is already running or not. If course, if the desktop app is already running, you will not be prompted to open it.

By the way, you can configure the Bitwarden desktop app to launch on startup and to run minimized in the systray.

You are correct, I’m not sure how 1Password and others do it, buy my original concern with Bitwarden still stands. There is no documentation to explain how how the “Ask for biometrics on launch” is supposed to work. I personally don’t like the idea of keeping the desktop app running in the background. I would prefer the app to open and close when needed (which it appears to be trying to do) but just fails before it actually asks me to use the biometrics.

I agree with this post. I am newly migrated user from Lastpass and temporary Synology C2. Both managers allow for “Hello” to unlock and/or YubiKey without the need of a desktop app. I can’t say I appreciate a desktop app at all since there is a web app, chrome ext, and mobile app. why introduce a third app? When I do try to use a locked chrome extension, I have to make sure my desktop app is opened and unlocked and then they seem to bounce back and forth verifying each other several times. I have not had a desktop app since Roboform days and never once missed it. The locking feature on Lastpass and Synology C2 seemed more seamless. If you close the browser, it required the biometric or Yubikey with a prompt. I close my browser with BitWarden, sometimes it does not even lock. I might just be missing a configuration, but these are my experiences so far.