Bitwarden Desktop App released

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 1, 2018
Updated • Mar 2, 2018

The makers of the password manager Bitwarden have released desktop versions of the application for Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

The password manager was previously available as a browser extension for major web browsers, as mobile applications for Android and iOS, and a web-version that users could access using any modern browser.

The installer, at least the installer for Windows is offered as a web-installer. This means that the installer requires an active Internet connection to download program components during setup.

The size of the full package, a 30 Megabyte download, hints at the use of Electron. A quick check on GitHub confirms it: "The Bitwarden desktop app is written using Electron and Angular". Electron is a popular choice for the development community but some users feel that it bloats programs and impacts performance.

Bitwarden Desktop App

Existing Bitwarden users can sign in using the account's email address and master password to sync account data; new users can create a new account from within the application.

The interface offers the same functionality as the web-based version of Bitwarden. The layout is different in some regards, but the core functionality is present.

Tip: You can disable analytics under File > Settings. Bitwarden states that all data that is collected is anonymous but fails to list what it collects or at least link to a help file that reveals it.

The desktop client lists all available logins in its interface. You can run a search to find a login quickly, or filter by type by clicking on one of the type filters.

When you select a data set, you may edit it, copy the URL, username or password, or launch the website URL in the default browser.

Notes and file attachments are listed as well if they do exist; the latter is a premium feature that is not available in the free version. The family price is reasonable, however, as you get a self-hosting option and 1 Gigabyte of storage for attachments for $1 per month.

The password manager includes a handful of additional options. You may use the password generator to generate new passwords based on parameters such as length and the use of characters, use folders for better separation of accounts, or access the password generation history.

The desktop app lacks some features that the web-based version of Bitwarden offers. I could not locate import and export options, nor options to deauthorize sessions or purge the vault. The option to create domain rules, associate multiple domain names with each other, is also missing in the desktop version.

Closing Words

Bitwarden's desktop applications work reasonably well. They don't seem to be intended as the main app that users of the service work with as they lack browser integration or auto-fill options.

My favorite password manager, KeePass, is a standalone desktop program as well, but it does support a global shortcut to sign in to sites and supports extensions and add-ons to extend its functionality.

I don't see much reason to use the desktop version of Bitwarden if you use browser extensions, apps or the web-version already. Things may be different if you use a self-hosted version but the extensions seem more comfortable to use right now, and the web-version offers what the desktop version offers.

Now You: Do you use a password manager?

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  1. GoogliciousBytes said on May 28, 2018 at 12:06 am

    I’m really glad BitWarden is adding a ‘Desktop App’ of it software. I love BitWarden…when the new Windows ‘Edge Extensions’ came out…it was (1) of the 1st PWM ext(s) available…I tried a few of them out, but found BitWarden worked across all my OS/iOS Platforms seamlessly. Where I think the ‘Desktop App’ will SHINE is when I need to open a ‘Task Bar’ or ‘Pin(d) to Start’ Icon & don’t wanna have to be online or grab my phone to use it.

    John F: I also use BW to store ‘Other’ Code(s)/Info – When you open ‘Add Login’ it asks (1) Login (2) Card (3) iD (4) Secure Note – each category has it’s own easy set of input fields.

    BrownGeek: I have found that depending on the websites ‘Login’ setup – BW may not always auto-fill info; but it’s easy to copy…98% of the time it asks me if I want it to keep ‘New’ PW…but I can easily add them manually so it’s usually OK.

    SummerG: BW also has the ‘Only You’ can access feature…Their staff nor server saves your password, so if you lose your Master that’s on you.

    I’ve been trying to figure out a better way to use it on my Android phone & tablet when split screen isn’t available; but overall I have to say I really LOVE it. The updates have been very helpful so far & I look forward to what BW brings to the table in the future. Between work & personal accounts that I must be able to access on a pretty irregular basis it’s been a life saver;-()

    Semper Fi…

  2. ramsam said on March 8, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I use roboform- the only software I have paid for. I use free software otherwise

  3. Curtis K said on March 4, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I use Notepad for passwords.

  4. rob42 said on March 4, 2018 at 11:20 am

    A PWM is a ‘must have’, but I’ve never been a fan of any of the On-Line offerings. For some time now, I’ve been using Bruce Schneier’s Password Safe on my Win7 and Android devices, but I’ve started to migrate to a Linux Platform, for a few reasons that I’ll not go into here. I’ve been using KeePassX, but it’s early days and I’m unsure if I’ll be staying with that.

    It’ll be interesting to come back here and read other comments.

  5. Tony said on March 2, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Portability and convenience is important to me for my passwords. Currently I am using Lastpass. I did install keepass and for me it would seem fine if I only need to access my password on that PC. Correct me if I am wrong but to use Keepass remotely, I would need keepass, a cloud storage like dropbox and a 3rd party app on my android. That seems like to many hands in the cookie jar and a cumbersome process.

  6. Heimen Stoffels said on March 2, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    The desktop app is helpful if you’re using a browser for which the extension is not available. So if you’re using e.g. Falkon (formerly QupZilla), Eolie or GNOME Web, you have to open up the web interface of Bitwarden (but it doesn’t really remember the password) or open up a supported browser (which kind of defeats the purpose of using a different browser). The desktop app is more convenient then. Also, it’ll probably receive more features in future versions.

  7. SummerGiraffe said on March 2, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Use Cyclonis Password Manager.
    Cyclonis says my password won’t be stored on their server so that the staffs can’t even access to the data. I download, install and love it.

  8. browngeek said on March 2, 2018 at 6:31 am

    I have been looking for an alternative to LastPass for some time now and am testing out Bitwarden at the moment. I generally do like it, but a few things that are slightly annoying, and wonder if others have noticed this as well (I should point out as a longtime LastPass user, it might be more just a case of getting used to a new set-up):

    – Android app doesn’t seem to have add copy notifications (a good fall back when the autofill api isn’t working)
    – The chrome extension doesn’t seem to support the saving of new sites and passwords automatically, seems this has to be inputted manually

    I am also looking at a service called with interest, but can’t find much information on it in terms of testing and detailed user reviews.

    1. Sam said on March 2, 2018 at 11:19 am

      You can try Enpass. Their android app, I think, is gold standard. On desktop, you need to install a client, besides browser extension, though.

  9. hahahah said on March 2, 2018 at 4:17 am

    I use keepass only.

  10. P2d said on March 2, 2018 at 12:45 am

    Keepass in PC and phone…and with plugins, it becomes a beast. Sure it has outdated or retro look (in PC) but in terms of features…I hardly see any other alternative. I have moved from lastpass to this.

  11. Juha T said on March 1, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Yes of course I use a password manager. I´ve moved from Lastpass to Bitwarden and couldnt be happier. Bitwarden feels more intuitive. I am quite satisfied with the browser extension but I guess a desktop app will be handy too

  12. John Fenderson said on March 1, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    ” Do you use a password manager?”

    Indeed! Since I’m a stickler about using random passwords, uniquely generated for each different logon, a password manager is pretty much essential. But I don’t use one on the desktop, I use it on my smartphone — that way, I have access to my passwords regardless of what machine I happen to be using.

    The app I’m currently using for this is Universal Password Manager (I also use it to store non-computer “passwords” such as lock combinations, gate codes, etc.)

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