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How to add two-factor authentication to the Bitwarden desktop client

If you’ve added two-factor authentication to Bitwarden, but are wondering why it’s not working on the desktop client, fear not. Jack Wallen shows you how to unlock this particular magic.

Bitwarden is a fantastic open source password manager. It has a web interface, a browser extension, a mobile app, and a desktop client. I’ve written about how to enable two factor authentication with Bitwarden, but that only applied to the web interface. It took a bit of digging (and a quick conversation with the company responsible for the application), but I did discover not only is it possible to use two-factor authentication (2FA) with the desktop client, it’s actually quite easy. 

Before we go through this, do note: You must enable 2FA for your Bitwarden account before it’ll work on the desktop client. Once you’ve taken care of that, you’re just a few clicks away from enjoying the added security of 2FA on the Bitwarden desktop client. 

Let me show you how to make this happen. 

How to add 2FA to the Bitwarden desktop client

  1. Open the Bitwarden desktop client and then go to File | Settings. In this window, you should see the Vault Timeout Action with two options: Lock and Log Out. You have to select Log Out for 2FA to take effect. 
  2. Click Log Out and, when prompted, click Yes to confirm the new Timeout Action. 
  3. Close the Settings window and you’ll be returned back to the Bitwarden main window.
  4. Wait for the configured timeout to kick in and go to log back in to the Bitwarden client. 
  5. Upon successful password authentication, you’ll then be prompted for the six-digit 2FA code. Unless you have that code, you cannot gain access to your Bitwarden database. 

For anyone looking to exact as much security as you can, adding 2FA to your Bitwarden account, and using it on the desktop client, is something you should consider a must do. Protect your passwords with multiple layers of security and hopefully those passwords will never find their way into the wrong hands.

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Image: Jack Wallen

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