Before I began using Dashlane, I used to stash my passwords everywhere, from random pieces of paper to the deepest corners of my computer to my sock drawer. As you can imagine, I had a difficult time rounding up the passwords I didn’t have saved in my web browsers. 

Fortunately, I learned (the hard way) from my bad password storage habits, and decided to create this simple guide to help you easily find all of your long-lost passwords and consolidate them in your password manager

1. Search your web browsers

Begin your search by combing through each of your web browsers for passwords you may have stored. There are two main strategies you can use to collect passwords from a web browser:

Let your password manager do it for you. Dashlane can import passwords from your web browser quickly and easily. Begin by opening the Dashlane application from your Windows menu or by clicking on the shortcut. Next, select “File,” followed by “import passwords.” Choose your browser and Dashlane will take care of the rest for you.

Importing passwords from Google Chrome into Dashlane's Password Manager

Do it manually. – If you don’t want to let Dashlane import passwords for you, you can track them down on your own. The procedure for each browser is slightly different:

  • Internet Explorer – To find your passwords, navigate to Control Panel > Credential Manager > Manage Web Credentials. Next, expand each site you want to view and select “show.” After you provide your Windows password, you will be able to view the credentials.
  • Firefox – To collect passwords on Firefox, head to Options > Options > Security > Saved Passwords. Once the database has launched, you can view all of your accounts in a list format. Select “Show Passwords” to reveal the information you need.
  • Chrome – Find your passwords on Chrome by selecting Settings > Show advanced settings > Manage passwords. Click on each entry and select “Show” to view the password.
  • Safari – Locate the passwords you have stored in Apple’s Safari browser by navigating to Preferences > Passwords from within the Safari menu. Browse through the list of entries, select the ones you need and click the box labeled “show passwords for selected websites.” You will need to input your account password at this time.

2. Search for passwords stored in text documents

Searching for text files on Windows computers

Photo credit: wikiHow

Many people organize their passwords in a Word or Excel document stored on their computer. If you have such a file and you know where it is located, find it and add all of the passwords to Dashlane. Once you have added all passwords, be sure to permanently delete the document to prevent theft or fraud.

If you don’t know the location or name of your file, you can search for the text inside the file on Windows desktop computers, as well as Mac.

To search for text inside of a file on a Windows desktop computer, you simply use Windows Search with “File Contents” selected. However, by default, this program won’t search all of the files on your computer.

To ensure that all relevant files are included in the Windows Search:

  • Go to the Control Panel.
  • Open Indexing Options. If you can’t find it, search “indexing” from within the Control Panel.
  • Select Advanced > File Types.
  • Choose the extensions of the file types you want to search. If the extensions you need are not on the list, add them.
  • Mark the circle next to “Index Properties and File Contents.”
  • Click the “Search” tab. Mark the circle next to “Always search file names and contents.”

After you have completed these steps, all of the file types you selected will be included in future searches.

To search for text within a file on a Mac:

  • Click on the magnifying glass found in the upper-right corner of your menu bar to open Spotlight.
  • Type your query into the search bar.
  • Browse through results until you find what you need.

By default, Spotlight will search outside of your Mac. To disable this feature and search only the files contained on your computer, navigate to System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results. Deselect the types of results you don’t want to see when you search.

3. Collect passwords from the mobile Notes app

Searching Evernote for passwords

Photo credit:

Before you invested in a password manager, you may have used Notes to keep your passwords with you on-the-go. However, now that you have Dashlane, it’s time to transfer this information.

If you used the Notes app on your iPhone, you can find specific files using Spotlight Search, which can be accessed by swiping down on any Home screen. However, Spotlight will only search Notes if you enable Notes in your Spotlight Search Settings.

To change your Spotlight search Settings:

  • Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search.
  • Scroll through the list and locate Notes.
  • Toggle it on.

If you are using Evernote, follow these steps to search for passwords.

  • Locate the “search notes” box near the top of the screen from within the app.
  • Type your query into the box.
  • Select the “everything” button below the search field to include all notebooks in the search.

4. Comb through cloud storage

Search Google Drive

Photo credit: PC Magazine 

Although it is far from secure, many people use the cloud to store and share their passwords. Some of the most common cloud storage tools used for this purpose include Dropbox, Apple iCloud, and Google Drive. This is an extremely dangerous practice that has led to several data breaches in the past. For example, in 2016, Dropbox announced a data breach that affected approximately 68 million records. Likewise, hackers were recently able to exploit a flaw in iCloud’s security that allowed them to unlock any iPhone. Thus, these tools can’t be trusted to keep your passwords safe.

It is possible to get your passwords off of Google Drive even if you don’t know the name of the file. However, the procedure you must use depends on the device. You can search Google Drive on Android using Google Now. From either the default Google Now search bar or from within Drive, simply type your search terms or tap the microphone icon and say “Search Drive for” followed by your search terms. To search Google Drive on iOS, simply use the iOS universal search bar.

By default, Google Drive will search for your keyword in document titles, document contents, and images, including PDFs. However, this can sometimes provide too many results. If you want to search titles only, simply type “title:” followed immediately by your search terms.

5. Search images and PDFs

If you used images or PDFs to store your passwords, finding them may be more difficult. However, thanks to optical character recognition (OCR), it isn’t impossible. OCR is a technology that allows programs to convert images of typed, printed or handwritten text into machine-encoded text. This technology can be used to search non-traditional sources of text, including PDFs. OCR is available in several programs, including Google Drive, Evernote, and OneNote.

6. Find passwords contained in email

Your email inbox is a pot of gold for hackers! If you have shared your passwords with family, friends or colleagues via email, copies of this information are still available for hackers to use. In addition, if you have received password reset emails from companies in which your password was included, your accounts are extremely vulnerable.

To search inside messages on Outlook with Windows:

  • Double-click the message you want to open so that it appears in its own window.
  • Press F4 or click “Find” on the message toolbar.
  • Select your search options.

The procedure for searching emails on Outlook is slightly different with a Mac. Instructions can be found here.

To search for passwords in Gmail:

  • Type your search terms into the box found at the top of the page.
  • Click the down arrow inside the search box to select your desired filters.
  • Click the search icon.

To search for passwords within Hotmail, simply type your search terms into the “search email” field and press enter. For a more advanced search, click “Show advanced search” and make use of the filters available.

To search for messages in Yahoo Mail, simply type your search terms into the “Search” box found at the top of the page. You can filter your search using the menu found in front of the search box.

Regardless of the email provider you’re using, it’s easy to get bogged down in large numbers of search results. To make the process simpler, consider filtering your search by the subject line, name of the sender or another keyword, like “login” or “credential” instead of “password”. Most email providers also offer advanced search operators that can help you narrow down your results.

7. Look for passwords around your home.

Over the years, you may have written down passwords on loose paper, in notebooks or on post-it notes. These papers can be located almost anywhere, but you need to find them in order to protect your security.Looking for passwords in your workspace at home

To find passwords in your home, be sure to check all of the following areas:

  • Workspaces – Check your work area at home and in your office. Look for passwords stuck on computer screens, tucked under computer monitors, stashed under keyboards and in piles of papers on your desk.
  • Kitchen area – Look for passwords on sticky notes or paper, especially under the magnets on your refrigerator.
  • Wireless routers – In many cases, your Wifi password will be visible on your wireless router. Don’t forget to add that credential to Dashlane’s Secure Notes for easy sharing, and then hide the Wifi credentials on your router so that others can’t see them.
  • Important files/documents – Another popular place to store passwords is with your other sensitive information, like your social security card, tax documents, financial statements and medical records. Check these files carefully to find any passwords you may have tucked away.
  • The mail pile – Some people write passwords down on old bills or empty envelopes. Be sure to check your mail pile for any credentials you may have misplaced.

Once you have stored all of your handwritten passwords in Dashlane, be sure to shred the original documents to prevent breaches.

8. Think hard

The last place you need to check for passwords is your own brain. If you have any passwords stored in your memory that haven’t already been uploaded to Dashlane, add them manually using these simple instructions:

  • From inside Dashlane, go to Passwords > Add new.
  • Fill in the website, username, and password.
  • Click “OK” to save.

Adding passwords to Dashlane's password manager

We all know exactly how difficult is to remember so many passwords. Luckily, after you complete this process, you’ll never have to struggle with memorizing or storing them ever again! Once you have gathered all your passwords using the steps above, it’s time to make sure they are all secure. Follow these five steps to secure your passwords and protect your accounts.

Enjoyed this guide? Then we’re sure you’ll love these articles too! 

A Beginner’s Guide to Using Two-Factor Authentication and U2F to Secure Your Passwords

Get the Productivity-Boosting Benefits of a Password Manger in 7 Days or Less! Here’s how.

The Birds, Bees, and Facebook: How to Have the Tech Talk with Your Kids

5 Quick Tricks to Improve Your Online Security in 5 Minutes

Here’s How to Make Online Shopping a Breeze with Dashlane’s Digital Wallet