True Key Password Manager Review

True Key is a rebranded update of PasswordBox, an innovative and well-regarded password manager that Intel bought in 2014. Among all the password managers we recently tested, True Key offers some of the best multifactor authentication available, including facial and fingerprint recognition. It also offers telephone tech support, a rarity among password managers.

True Key is still missing some features we'd like, such as an extension for the desktop version of the Apple Safari browser and the ability to fill out names, addresses and credit-card numbers in online forms. But it's already a challenger to the dual dominance of LastPass and Dashlane as the best overall password managers.

Costs and What's Covered

The free version of True Key lets you use the service among an unlimited number of devices, but there's a catch: You can store only up to 15 sets of usernames and passwords. The Premium version gives you "unlimited" (read the fine print, and it's actually 10,000) sets of credentials for $20 per year.

True Key is available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices, and has extensions for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers. (A Microsoft Edge extension was added after we first published this review.) There's no extension for the desktop version of Apple Safari (there is one for iOS) or for the desktop version of Opera.

For this review, we tested out True Key on two laptops, one running Windows 8 and the other Windows 10, and on an iPad Mini tablet and a OnePlus One smartphone.

MORE: How to Create and Remember Super-Secure Passwords

Setup

Installing True Key was quick and easy. The desktop version is a stand-alone application, in contrast to some other password managers, such as LastPass, that live solely in web browsers. The mobile apps are available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Setting up your account is as simple as entering your name, email address and master password. (Users seeking maximum privacy should know that unlike True Key, most password managers don't ask for your real name.) The service asked us to verify our identity by sending us an email, and we had to click on the link embedded in the email to continue the setup process.

We really appreciated True Key's automatic import of our logins from Chrome. It can also import from Firefox and Internet Explorer, as well as from other password managers such as Dashlane, LastPass and McAfee's SafeKey utility.

Once you've organized and uploaded your logins, you have the option of adding wallet items, for which there are six templates: addresses, credit card numbers, driver's licenses, memberships, passports and Social Security numbers.

Multifactor Authentication

True Key's multifactor-authentication features really do give it a leg up over other password managers like 1Password, which doesn't have two-factor authentication at all. It's convenient to choose how you want to log in on each device, and you can add as many levels of security as you want, on as many devices as you want.

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To sign into your True Key account, you must use verify your identity by using two of six different methods: using a recognized "trusted device" (i.e., your computer, smartphone or tablet); facial recognition; fingerprint recognition; verification on a second "trusted device" that has True Key installed; logging in with your master password; or clicking a link that has been sent to your email address.

On your trusted devices, you can simply use your face or fingerprint to sign in, but on unrecognized devices you'll be required to go through at least two factors of authentication.

Because the service has so many means of personal authentication, you can reset your master password by verifying your identity with two or more of the six factors listed above. You can't recover a lost password, however; you'll have to create a new one.

The facial-recognition feature has two levels of security. The "Convenient" setting simply relies on a snapshot of your face.  But the "Enhanced" one asks you to turn your head from side to side, verifying that your image isn't just a photograph.

True Key's stand-alone desktop application is clearly made for touch screens.

Facial recognition is available on any device equipped with a camera, and fingerprint recognition is available on any device with a fingerprint reader. Both features are fully supported by True Key's Windows, Mac, iOS and Android software.

True Key Desktop and Mobile Apps

Many password managers' desktop applications look and feel different from the mobile versions, but not True Key's. Its stand-alone desktop application is clearly made for touchscreens, with large icons, fingertip-size buttons and fat category boxes in lots of open space. It looks remarkably like the iPad version of the mobile app.

In fact, True Key's mobile apps are easier to use than the desktop version. The password generator is easier to find in the mobile apps, for example, and the settings menu, especially in Android, is much richer.

The Android version lets you log in with Enhanced Face, set a default username for new accounts, clear your browser history and choose whether to display passwords. It also blocks screenshots from being taken, and can manage passwords for other apps on the same device.

The iOS app recently added Enhanced Face, but does few of the other things the Android app can do.

Nevertheless, the True Key mobile app was as functional on our iPad as it was when we used the browser on our laptop. The built-in browser allowed us to save and auto-fill logins quickly and easily.

MORE: 10 Best Mobile Password Managers

We found that facial recognition worked well for logging in to True Key in Windows, iOS and Android alike. We tested the fingerprint recognition on an iPhone 6s Plus, and it worked flawlessly.

There seemed to be a bit of a syncing problem among the iOS, Android and Windows applications. Accounts added to the Android app showed up instantly on iOS devices, but not Windows. The iOS and Windows accounts synced changes instantly with each other, but we had to restart the Android app to get changes made on iOS or Windows systems to show up.  

Overall Performance

True Key claims it is on a mission to eliminate passwords completely, and it's making good headway. It was pretty effortless to log into websites. We also had the option of using True Key's password generator, which creates a strong password up to 30 characters in length for a website if you choose.

Most of our credentials were smoothly imported from browsers and other password managers, but whenever we did have to create a new web account, we'd just have to create a new password — or better yet, have True Key make one for us — and it would be in the database forever.

We were pleased to discover that True Key offers 24/7 English-language telephone tech support, and business-hours telephone support in more than a dozen other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, German, French and Dutch. Email and chat tech support is available for those languages as well. We don't know of any other password managers that offer telephone support.

True Key claims it's on a mission to eliminate passwords completely, and it's making headway.

We wish True Key offered form filling, but as of yet, it's not available. There's also no way to securely share passwords with other people, as you can with Dashlane, Keeper and LastPass.

Bottom Line

True Key has a solid interface and features, and great potential to become one of the best password managers out there, as Intel is constantly adding more features. Even without a few important capabilities, such as automatic form filling and password sharing, True Key is well worth the $20 yearly fee, and should only improve over time.

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  • Paul_174
    What are you talking about. "This is good, this is not good"?
    It simply does not work on the win 10 initial login. Intermittent problems about 80% of the times.
    Forget the recognition problems, the True Key problems. What are you selling?
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  • orphan annie
    Just got off the phone with customer support. After being asked to try to log in, I was told I tried too many times to log in. I was blamed for doing what the CSR asked me to do.
    The solution? Wait 24 hours so they can reset my master password. I was given no reason for having to wait, except that it was the only solution. I was told if I tried to log in, one more time, it would lock my account and create more problems; that TrueKey couldn't fix. Once an account becomes locked, one needs to wait 48+ hours to get the account deleted. Then one can try to re-open a new account with one's email.
    As an offering to appease my frustration, CSR did offer to extend my subscription for a month. Seriously? If I'm not happy with it now, adding another month isn't going to improve the program.
    I'm thankful I didn't get this program set up completely. I'm going to uninstall it.
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