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What is a Password Hint?

Lukas Grigas

Passwords. You can’t remember them all, but you can’t live without them. We’ve all been there: trying to get every single brain cell to work just to remember that one password. It can be annoying, frustrating, and even anxiety-inducing. But once you get the slightest hint about what that password was, there’s this click, with which comes the amazing, all-consuming feeling of relief and achievement. Today, we’re taking a close look at password hints and all things related to them.

Password hints explained

It is what it sounds like. Put plainly, a password hint is a sort of reminder that helps the user remember their password. A hint could be anything from a single word that reminds you of your password to a full-fledged sentence, a string of characters, or anything else that helps you jump-start your associative memory. The one thing that should not be in your password hint is your actual password, obviously.

To help users remember their passwords, various login systems allow users to set up password hints to be displayed on a login screen each time they enter their credentials. You’ve probably seen these while logging in to your Windows PC or Mac. Usually, they appear as an icon next to the password field.

How to come up with a good and secure password hint

If you have a tendency to forget your passwords (like many of us do), creating hints for them will save you time and frustration.

We’ll say it again — the most important thing is not to make your password hint your actual password. Second, don’t make it obvious. Let’s say, if you use your birthdate as your password (which, by the way, you shouldn’t, but that’s another topic entirely), the hint shouldn't be “my birth date”.

When coming up with a hint, think of things that relate to your password but are only obvious to you. It might be random phrases, proverbs, quotes, or anything else that is in a very obscure way associated with your password. A good and secure password hint must accomplish two things: it should be an instant reminder and obvious only to you.

Nowadays, remembering all your passwords is unrealistic, to put it mildly. Research reports that an average internet user has to juggle around 100 passwords. In most instances, we’re also mandated to use passwords that are long, include upper- and lower-case letters, as well as numbers and special symbols. Words or phrases we can easily remember are no longer a viable option to protect our online accounts since they're extremely vulnerable to brute-force attacks.

In the digital world that we live in, a password manager is the easiest way to protect your login credentials and other sensitive information. Not only does a password manager such as NordPass provide a secure vault for your passwords but also remembers them for you so you can have the most complex passwords protecting your favorite online accounts. Consider adopting NordPass for a simpler, smoother, and a much more secure online experience.

How to set a password hint on your Mac device

If you don’t have a password hint enabled on your Mac device, you will need to change your password to enable the hint. Here’s how it’s done:

  • On your Mac, select the Apple menu icon located in the top-left corner of the screen.

  • Now, select System Preferences.

  • Go to Users & Groups.

  • Select Change Password.

  • Enter your current password in the Old password field.

  • Enter and verify your new password.

  • Enter your password hint.

  • Click Change Password.

How to set a password hint on Windows 10

To set a password hint on your Windows 10, you will also have to change your password. Here’s a quick rundown of how to do it:

  • Open the Settings app by pressing the Win + I simultaneously or left-clicking the Windows icon at the lower-left of your desktop screen and selecting Settings.

  • Go to Accounts.

  • Locate and select Sign-in options on the left side of the menu screen.

  • Select Passwords from the Sign-in option screen and click Change.

  • Enter your current password and click Next.

  • Enter your new password, confirm it, and set your password hint.

  • Click Next to finalize the procedure.

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