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Unlock with PIN

You can set a PIN code as a method for unlocking your vault. PINs can only be used to unlock your vault, you will still be required to use your master password and any enabled two-step login method when you log in.

If you are not sure of the difference, see Understanding unlock vs. log in.

note

After five failed PIN attempts, the app will automatically log out of your account.

Enable unlock with PIN

Unlock with PIN can be enabled for the Bitwarden browser extension, mobile app, and desktop app:

To enable unlock with PIN for your browser extension:

  1. Open the Settings tab.

  2. Scroll down to the Security section and check the Unlock with PIN checkbox.

  3. Enter the desired PIN code in the input box. Your PIN can be any combination of characters (a-z, 0-9, $, #, etc.).

    tip

    If you share your device, it's important to create a strong PIN by avoiding easily guessable digits like date of birth or by using a PIN that's more than four digits.

  4. The pre-checked option Lock with master password on browser restart will require you to enter your master password instead of the PIN when your browser restarts. If you want the ability to unlock with a PIN even when the browser restarts, uncheck the option.

Once set, you can change your PIN by disabling and re-enabling unlock with PIN.

When you log out of your browser extension, your unlock with PIN settings will be wiped and you will need to re-enable unlock with PIN.

To enable unlock with PIN for your mobile app:

  1. Open the Settings tab.

  2. Scroll down to the security section and tap the Unlock with PIN Code option.

  3. Enter the the desired PIN code in the input box. Your PIN can be any combination of numbers (0-9).

    tip

    If you share your device, it's important to create a strong PIN by avoiding easily guessable digits like date of birth or by using a PIN that's more than four digits.

  4. A dialog box will appear asking whether you want to require unlocking with your master password when the application is restarted. Tap Yes to require your master password instead of PIN when the app restarts. Tap No for the ability to unlock with the PIN when the app restarts.

Once set, you can change your PIN by disabling and re-enabling Unlock with PIN.

When you log out of your mobile app, your unlock with PIN settings will be wiped and you will need to re-enable Unlock with PIN.

Unlock with PIN is set separately for each account logged in to the desktop app. To enable unlock with PIN:

  1. Open your Settings (on Windows, FileSettings) (on macOS, BitwardenPreferences).

  2. Scroll down to the Security section and check the Unlock with PIN checkbox.

  3. Enter the desired PIN code in the input box. Your PIN can be any combination of characters (a-z, 0-9, $, #, etc.).

    tip

    If you share your device, it's important to create a strong PIN by avoiding easily guessable digits like date of birth or by using a PIN that's more than four digits.

  4. The pre-checked option Lock with master password on restart will require you to enter your master password instead of the PIN when the app restarts. If you want the ability to unlock with a PIN when the app restarts, uncheck this option.

Once set, you can change your PIN by disabling and re-enabling unlock with PIN.

When you log out of your desktop app, your unlock with PIN settings will be wiped and you will need to re-enable unlock with PIN.

note

If you turn off the Lock with master password on restart option, the Bitwarden application may not fully purge sensitive data from application memory when entering a locked state. If you are concerned about your device's local memory being compromised, you should keep the Lock with master password on restart option turned on.

Understanding unlock vs. log in

In order to understand why unlocking and logging in are not the same, it's important to remember that Bitwarden never stores unencrypted data on its servers. When your vault is neither unlocked nor logged in, your vault data only exists on the server in its encrypted form.

Logging in to Bitwarden decrypts your vault data to your device. In practice, that means two things:

  1. Logging in will always require your master password, because your master password is the source of the key needed to decrypt your vault data. Additionally, because decryption is an operation that needs to be protected, this stage is where any enabled two-step login methods would be required.

  2. Logging in will always require you to be connected to the internet (or, if you are self-hosting, connected to the server), because you need access to the encrypted vault in order to decrypt it.

Unlocking can only be done when you are already logged in. In other words, only when your vault data is already stored (encrypted) on your device. Because your vault is already downloaded and your decryption key stored in memory:

  1. You don't need the decryption key derived from your master password, so you are free to use other access methods, such as PIN codes and biometrics.

  2. You don't need to be connected to the internet (or, if you are self-hosting, connected to the server).

warning

Using a PIN can weaken the level of encryption that protects your application's local vault database. If you are worried about attack vectors that involve your device's local data being compromised, you may want to reconsider the convenience of using a PIN.


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