(Credit: Dashlane)

Dashlane announced today that it's adding a feature called Inbox Security Scan to its password manager app and web browser extension to help us fix low-quality passwords that we may use for various website accounts that are tied to an email address. iOS users can get this feature for Gmail, and Android users get it for both Gmail and Outlook, the latter of which also covers email addresses from Microsoft's Hotmail and Windows Live Mail.

SEE: The Download.com guide to password security

Why you should care

Password managers can create long and complex passwords that would be nearly impossible for someone to guess without a computer to help them. All you need to remember is the one master password that you create for the manager itself to unlock the individual passwords.

In Dashlane's case, your individual account passwords are stored in a database that you access through its mobile app or a web browser extension. When you go to a website that Dashlane has matched an account to, it can fill in your user name and password with a few taps or clicks.

This database can be used offline, but it's synced in the cloud so that you can access it across different devices. Some folks understandably don't like storing this info on the Internet, so if you want something that's purely offline, we'd recommend checking out KeePass instead. If you like the cloud feature but you want something open-source, take a look at Bitwarden.

How Dashlane's Inbox Security Scan works

When you open Dashlane, tap the menu button in the Android version, or the Tools button in iOS, and you will see the new Inbox Scan function listed toward the bottom. When you tap this, you'll be asked to log into your Gmail our Outlook accounts from within the Dashlane app. From there, the app will analyze your inbox to detect and collect all the website accounts for which you've created a password that's tied to that Gmail account.

You can then import all of these accounts into the Dashlane app itself. Once these are in the manager, it can invite you to create a better password the next time you visit that website. It doesn't automatically correct your lazy passwords for you -- that still requires going through the website's own password-changing procedure. But now Dashlane can offer to generate something better, which it can auto-fill into the user name and password-entry fields for the next time you visit.

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The app does not keep your email login info; in case you're worried about the legitimacy of Dashlane itself, it's a respected security company whose password manager app won accolades from CNET earlier this year.

Dashlane offers a free account that you can use on one device. It pays the bills with the Premium tier priced at $40 a year, which adds support for unlimited devices and YubiKey two-factor authentication.

The takeaways

  1. It's pretty difficult to do stuff on the Internet without creating a website account that's tied to an email address. Commenting on an article, downloading an app, sending someone money, creating a wish list -- everybody seems to want a piece of your inbox. And if you're like most of us, you're using the same lazy password for most of these logins. Password managers like Dashlane can help save people from their own bad habits.
  2. That said, there are several other password managers that may be more cost-effective for you, like Bitwarden or KeePass.

See also

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.