Issue with usage for a non-technical user

Despite setting my mom up with Bitwarden for password manager, my mom still calls me at least once a week to ask for help in signing into a website. This is because unless the site is autofilled, she doesn’t know what to do. I tried teaching her to just click on the bitwarden icon on the upper right corner and then selecting the website, but she just forget about how to do it the next time it happens. I thought of leaving a link on the her home page to a video on how to do it. Anyone have any additional ideas?

Meant for real: How about if you make a dot onto Ctrl, Shift and L using correction fluid like Tipp-Ex ?

If you also turn off the built in auto-fill so that she has to press ctrl+shift+L each time, she is more likely to remember through repetition.

For users at work, I don’t let them use unlock with PIN/biometric, cause they keep forgetting their master password if they are not always typing it in.


The CTRL Shift L is a good idea, it appears it’s not setup by default though. We can see if we can get her to remember it. However, I would not bet on it.

The biometric does work work though. She has no problems using her Android with biometrics. However, chromeboxes do not have biometrics.

No go. She is unable to do a 3 key combination for some reason. I thought this wouldn’t be an issue since cut and paste is CTRL-C and V, but she has never been able to figure out how to do that, too. We will just have to stick with autofill with the bitwarden extension icon as a method to fill if autofill fails. For her setup, I have:

  1. setup the bitwarden not to never logout. If bitwarden logs out, she calls me to remote in and relogin because she can’t type in the password even when it’s written down. She apparently can’t type in an exact combination if it’s more than 5 characters.

  2. Bitwarden is setup to autofill by pageload, which fortunately works 99% of the time.

  3. If that fails, she has to click on the bitwarden icon to fill but she may not remember and may have to call.

On android, all that is handled by the fingerprint reader, so it’s not an issue.

Could she type a passphase? See here for what I mean:

It could also be a series of five or six random words of four-to-five letters each depending on how secure you need her Master passwords to be.

I was thinking that being normal English words, typing it would be a more normal behavior pattern.

Her master password is a sentence, which she type one character at a time from a piece of paper. However, despite typing slowly she seems to be missing characters along the way. Part of the issue may be that the password field is hidden, so she can’t tell if she made a mistake.

One way around it would be to type out the password to notepad, and copy and paste it. However, it appears that she cannot figure out how to cut and paste.

As a backup, I programmed a Yubikey to emit a partial master password. She types in the first 5 character of the password and press the Yubikey and it emits the rest of the password. I have managed to get her to login using this method. I can’t however set this up as a default login method. The reason is that she doesn’t understand the concept of control focus. To enter the password you have to click inside the password field to enter the password. She does not understand this concept.

In this case i would just install the desktop app and ask my mom just copy paste the credentials instead. She have to remember only the user id and password. There are many sites where auto-fill won’t work. Just don’t forget to enable erase clipboard!

Also if she has problems remembering master password. I would suggest to use numbers that shes familiar with and add some symbols to it to make it more secure. Write them down in codes beside the PC so she can remember them.

Hi Kat,

I don’t think the copy and paste will work. My mom cannot cut and paste. She thinks of a password manager as a magical black box that automatically logs her into her website because she can’t remember her user name or password. She doesn’t know how to look up an entry in the password manager. She does not even know how to type in a URL. We basically setup a home page where she access her site via large icons. If the home page fails, then she cannot type in the URL to go to the site. She clicks on the site and it takes her there and log her in automatically. If the automatic login does not work, she is supposed to click on the bitwarden icon and select auto-fill. This is where she is stuck at.

The android apps are even better since most require her to use the fingerprint reader, which bypass the issue of typing in passwords.

I added the following to her home page as a reminder on how to autofill:

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Well, now i can clearly understand the situation. See i dont think BW is suitable for your mom. If i were you i will just use the builtin PW manager in Firefox. You open a site, the credentials are auto-filled and ready for login. I believe that would solve the issue. Please do try it. Firefox also has some good bookmarking options and some good extentions.

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Sorry in advance if this question sounds inappropriate, but I just have to ask: How old is your mom? She is so non-technical that I actually would recommend a different solution. I don’t know what that might be, but from what I read, a password manager is a bit too advanced for her.

Also, I got a little curious about something else: How many websites does she visit? I mean…she doesn’t know copy/paste and can barely write on a keyboard. Are there so many logins and/or sensitive information that a password manager is needed?

EDIT: what @Kat said

she’s nearly 80. Keep in mind that while older people tend to be more technically challenged, this isn’t always the case. My father in law for example has no problems using the a computer even if he in the similar age group.

My mom should probably avoid computers, but she cannot because today’s world demands it. She has to schedule stuff online. Social security appears to need some sort of online presence. She’s also heavily into facebook and Whatsapp and wants to check on her bank account value daily and need access to her coupons.

According to Bitwarden, she has about 30+ sites. However, most of them are infrequently accessed. She really only have a dozen sites that she visit frequently, which are all on her home page. The reason for a password manager is because I need the password management to extend to her different devices (which we limit it to a phone, a tablet, and a computer). She also off-loads task that are too challenging for her to her kids, which means we have to login as her using the password manager. Prior to the password manager, she kept password with loose pieces of paper which are organized in no particular fashion, which means she can never find the password and kept calling her kids for the password that we or course do not have. She’s also been hacked a few times because she uses the same 5 character password for all of her sites, which means her kids will also need to fix the aftermath.

Booksmark will not work because they require user to select from a menu which she cannot do for some reason. We have Speed dial which allow us to setup links as a big picture of the website she is going to.

One big challenge is get her not to off-load too much. My sibling and are busy with our own family. We don’t have the time to help her constantly especially simple things take an hour or so. I have notice that she is super good with whatsapp because she want so keep in touch with her siblings, so she can learn stuff is she is willing but she is not.

In general, bitwarden work most of the time it can autofill. For android device, it is used to setup the applications ahead of time. i just need a way to minimize issues in the 5% of the time when it doesn’t work.


I see. Well, I can’t really think of a way to help.

True. Still, the majority of them just can’t work with computers. Your mom, however, could have been worse. Once I managed to convince my grandma (she is nearly 90 now) to sit on a computer. The entire experience was about 20 seconds and this is how it went:

Me: This is a computer mouse. Move it and watch the white pointer on the screen.
Her: Proceeds to slowly lift the mouse in the air and do circular motions with it
Me: ok, that’s enough

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For the 5% of accounts that don’t autofill correctly, I found that custom fields help for situations like yours.

I set up the account and custom fields and have autofill turned on to make it as easy as possible for them. When this has failed I’ve come to the realization I’m just going to have to remote in and help. Usually, the website changed something, and doing a new custom field fixes it so I don’t have to remote in as often.

Ha ha, when I first introduce computers to my mom, her complain was that it was confusing because you move the mouse horizontally but the cursor moves around vertically and that there was no way she can grasp that. I then ask “How do you drive?” In any case, computing services have improve greatly over the decades. I can’t imagine my mom using text interface that dominated my younger years. Things like tablets are actually more usable by her. Now if they can move a bit further and have bioimetric login and may be voice command.

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Awesome. I will see if this will fix some of the issue she has. Actually the biggest problem I have notice is that websites and apps (more apps than site) often make changes that break the password manager, resulting in of course calls.


Yep I’ve really been impressed with how good custom fields are now I’ve started to get into them! I’ve also found being more specific with match detection has also helped with sites that have different logins for different parts (e.g., forums vs main site).

Although the upside with text interfaces was the ability to write down a list of what to do. I still find my Mum doesn’t have the concept of the Desktop or folders!