Importing an exported vault

I exported my vault to an encrypted json file in Windows 11. I want to view the exported file, but I rather not import it to my Bitwarden vault. Can I import it to a csv file that will be stored on my PC?

The answer to your question depends on exactly which method you had used to export the encrypted JSON file. Did you export the data using the export tool in the Web Vault (vault.bitwarden.com), and if so, did you specifically select the “Password-Protected” file type option (and not the “Account-Restricted” file type option)?

If not (i.e., if you exported the encrypted JSON file directly from the browser extension, the mobile app, or the Desktop app, or if you did do export from the Web Vault but selected the “Account-Restricted” file type option), then the export cannot be used for anything except for importing into the exact same account that it was exported from — although you should be careful about actually attempting this, because it will create duplicates of all of your vault items.

If you did export a Password-Protected JSON file (and if you know the password that you used for encrypting the file), then the best way to change it into a CSV file is probably to create a new Bitwarden account, import the JSON file, and then create a CSV export of the new vault.

Is there a reason you can’t just create a CSV export to begin with?

Thanks. I exported the vault in BW in Windows and chose the encrypted json simply for security. I want to get into the file as it contains a password that no longer exists in my current vault. I just noted that I have an empty folder in my current vault. Can I import the encrypted file into that folder? I just don’t want to screw up or overwrite anything in my current vault.

Unfortunately, you’re in a bit of a bind. It will take some effort to recover your lost password. You would have to use a process along the lines of the following:

  1. From the Web Vault, create an encrypted JSON export to snapshot the current contents of your vault.

  2. If applicable, enter the advanced search query >attachments:* to find any vault items with file attachments, then download each of those files and make a note of which vault item each file was attached to (this is necessary because vault exports do not include file attachments).

  3. Purge the contents of your vault.

  4. Import the original encrypted JSON export (which has the password that you are trying to restore) into your vault.

  5. Bulk delete all vault items, except for the one item that has the password you want.

  6. Now import the more recent export (from Step 1) to restore the contents of your vault.

  7. If applicable, re-upload file attachments that you had saved in Step 2.

Because exports do not preserve all of the data in your vault, the above procedure will result in the loss of any contents in your trash, any “Sends”, metadata like item creation/modification dates, and password histories.

Thanks again! I’m working with the web site to simply let me recreate my account. Next time, I would be better off exporting to an unencrypted CSV file and storing it an something like an encrypted RAR archive.

1 Like

Wait, what? Did you lose your original account? Unfortunately, you will never be able to retrieve anything from an encrypted JSON that was exported from an account that you no longer have access to.

Edit: Maybe I read your comment too quickly. If you’re talking about resetting/recreating the account with the password that you are trying to retrieve from the encrypted JSON, then that’s fine. I thought you were saying that you lost access to your Bitwarden account, which would be a whole different story…

In the future, create your exports by logging in to the Web Vault (not using the Windows Desktop app), and make sure to select the “Password-Protected” file type for the encrypted JSON format. That will create a securely encrypted file, which you can import into any Bitwarden account (even a temporary account that you have set up only for the purpose of doing the import and extracting select information), and even decrypt outside of Bitwarden, with the help of 3rd-party tools.

Thanks very much for your guidance on this! I needed an earlier password from a web site stored as a login in my vault, which was the same vault that I have now.

1 Like