Windows 10 and 11 come with a handy credential manager that lets users manage their passwords and login credentials right on their PC, which isn’t widely known.
In this article, we’ll cover the Credential Manager, its types, how to access it and manage your password, and everything it offers. Let’s start.
What is the Credential Manager in Windows?
As its name suggests, Credential Manager is a password manager built into the Windows operating system. It allows users to store login information for websites, apps, and networks, and you can change the saved information at any time.
This feature was first introduced in Windows 7 and added to the next version of Windows. Windows 10 and 11 come with this feature, and it’s almost the same in both operating systems. Therefore, you will find this article useful no matter what operating system you are using.
How to Access Credential Manager in Windows
There are many ways to access Credential Manager, just like any other Windows feature. Here are the two easiest ways:
1. How to Access Credential Manager from Control Panel
Follow the steps below to access Credential Manager from Control Panel:
- Open Control Panel by typing “Control Panel” in Windows search.
- From “Seen by” drop-down menu in the upper right corner, select an option other than “Category.”
- Click on Credential Manager.
2. How to use Windows Search to access Credential Manager
You can also access the Credential Manager directly from Windows Search. To open it with Windows Search, follow these steps:
- In Windows search, type “Credentials Manager.”
- Click the entity in the results to open it.
If Windows Search cannot retrieve search results for Credential Manager, you should try the first method.
Types of credentials that Credential Manager can save
The Windows built-in credential manager can store two types of credentials: web credentials and Windows credentials. Let’s explore what information each login logs and how you can manage your passwords for each category.
1. Web IDs
Web credentials store login information for portals and websites that you connect to through Microsoft products, such as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. By registering, you will no longer have to enter usernames and passwords for websites. Instead, they will autofill.
To view saved credentials, click Web credentials in the credential manager. After clicking on any saved ID, you will see the stored information, including username, password, website URL, and the Microsoft product that saved the password.
Click on Spectacle and verify your identity to verify the saved password. To permanently delete an identifier, click on Remove.
2. Windows credentials
Unlike web credentials, Windows credentials are used only by Windows and its services to store login information. If Windows credentials are configured correctly, accessing shared folders on any computer on the same network is a breeze. This is especially useful for individuals and teams working on a shared network.
If you want to create a new Windows ID, follow the steps below:
- Go to Credential Manager in Control Panel.
- Click on Add Windows ID.
- Enter the Internet address or network with the username and Passwordand click OKAY.
Similarly, to edit or permanently delete a saved ID, open the ID and click the Edit Where Remove button.
In the same way Windows credentialsyou will find two other categories; Certificate-Based Credentials and Generic credentials. While generic credentials store login information for Windows and third-party applications such as Grammarly, certificate-based credentials are less likely to be used unless you work in a complex network environment.
The Main Differences in Accessing Windows Credentials and Web Credentials
In terms of managing your saved Windows and web credentials, there are two main differences:
- You can manually add new Windows, certificate-based, and wildcard credentials in the Credential Manager, but not new web credentials.
- You can change or delete Windows credentials and credentials for the other two categories, but you cannot change Web credentials manually. However, as with Windows credentials, you can also remove web credentials.
How to Backup and Restore Windows Credentials in Credential Manager App
You can also back up your saved credentials in Credential Manager and restore them later in the event of a disaster. Follow the steps below to back up your Windows credentials:
- Open the Credential Manager feature.
- Select Windows credentials.
- Click on the Save credentials link.
- Choose the destination location to save the backup by clicking Browse.
- Click on Next after adding the location.
- Once done, press CTRL+ALT+Del and enter a password to password protect your backup.
- Click on Nextthen Finish.
Follow the steps below to restore the backup:
- Open the Credential Manager function.
- Select Windows credentials.
- Click on the Restore Identifiers link.
- Select Browse and specify the location to retrieve your backup.
- Click on Next once the backup file is selected.
- Hurry CTRL+ALT+Del and enter the password you set when creating the backup.
- Then click Next and Finish.
To note: Any changes you make to Credential Manager will not be automatically saved. Instead, you’ll need to create a manual backup.
Cons of Credential Manager
Credential Manager allows Windows users to save login credentials for sites, applications, and networks. However, since this is a native feature, anyone with administrative access can access your saved credentials. These could be family members or friends who you share a computer with, or an experienced hacker who has had a successful hacking campaign.
The bottom line is that even a small breach in your system’s security can expose your saved passwords. If you are concerned about this, do not save sensitive passwords in Windows Credential Manager.
Get the most out of Windows Credential Manager
Now that you know how Windows Credential Manager works, you can take advantage of Windows’ built-in password manager. While this is a useful feature, you should consider the security risks it poses.
Although it’s a handy password manager, Windows Credential Manager doesn’t meet all the criteria to be considered a great alternative to third-party password managers. So, if you want cross-platform support, ease of use, and advanced encryption and security, you should consider using a third-party password manager.