Passwords are probably the worst part about connecting to the web. At Yahoo Finance, we’re asked to change our passwords several times a year, and they need to be incredibly long. Oh, and you can’t use the same phrase more than once.
And while those are the best ways to stay safe online, they’re still a hassle. To that end, Microsoft (MSFT) is releasing its passwordless login technology for all consumers.
Rather than logging in with a password, the company will now let you type in your username, then use either the Microsoft Authenticator app, Windows Hello, a physical security key, or a phone or email verification to access your Outlook, OneDrive, Microsoft Family Safety, and other apps. The company is also working on expanding this to additional services including Xbox accounts in the future.
You’ll need to set up the feature before you can start using it, though, which means you’ll have to set up the passwordless option yourself. To do so, you’ll have to download the Microsoft Authenticator app — it’s available for iOS and Android — and link it to your account.
Then you’ll need to sign in to your Microsoft account via a browser, and go to the Advanced Security Options page and turn on Passwordless Account. From there you can follow the on-screen instructions to determine how to use the feature.
I’ve been using passwordless sign in on my Microsoft account for a while now using the Authenticator app, and it’s proven far easier than forgetting my password and having to reset it every month. I type in my email, click log-in and get a prompt from the Authenticator app asking if I'm trying to sign in. Then I just follow the on-screen directions, and I'm in.
You can also choose to go back to using passwords at any time if you’d like. But that would be crazy.
Of course, there are other means of keeping yourself safe online too. LastPass is a service that acts as a master password for all of the sites that you log in to, eliminating the need to remember a boatload of different passwords.
Multi-factor authentication is also an option for people who aren’t quite finished with using passwords that allows you to sign into your account with a password and protect it with a text message or an app notification.
While Microsoft says its passwordless approach will only work with its own products for now, the company is working with other organizations to make the use of passwordless logins more readily available for services across the web.
If that becomes the case, you may never have to scramble to reset your password when you inevitably forget it again.
More from Dan
Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at email@example.com over via encrypted mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.