The picture passwords first appeared on Windows 8 to allow users more diversity in the use of security patterns. This feature is still available on the newer Windows 10. Though few security experts meet it with approval. Picture passwords might not be the safest password alternative, but they do offer a couple of benefits too.

How to Enable Picture Passwords on Windows 10

You’ll read all about the pros and cons of using picture passwords in a moment. But before, there are few things you need to understand.

Picture passwords represent a password alternative where the user can make any three gestures on a photo of their choice to unlock their device. The said gestures can include any combination of swiping movements, including:

  • circles,
  • straight lines,
  • and taps.

For instance, if you choose a picture of a face, the security gestures can be a swipe between the eyes and two taps on the nose. Every time you want to unlock the device, you will have to perform these three gestures in the right order.

Now that you understand how picture passwords work, you can enable them on your device.

  1. Access “Windows Settings” on your device.
  2. Click on the “Accounts” settings and select “Sign-in options.”
  3. Scroll to find the “Picture password” option and click on “Add.”
  4. Enter your current password for security purposes.
  5. Follow the given instructions to choose or upload a picture and perform the swiping gestures.
  6. Once complete, your picture password will serve much like any other pattern lock with its pros and cons.

The Pros and Cons of Picture Passwords

No doubt, remembering three gestures in a photo is much easier than remembering a password. It’s especially true when you need to remember one that consists of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. But it is debatable whether this convenience is worth it. Picture passwords might not be as safe as numerical/character passwords your password manager helps to generate.

The two main issues with picture passwords are the low number of gesture points and predictability. This security alternative allows users to create only three gestures. If there were six or more gestures available, the security of this system would be on a whole different level. But with three gestures only, these passwords are pretty easy to hack.

Predictability is another issue when it comes to picture passwords. Users tend to pick some of the most common points in the photo. If the image features a face, users tend to go for the most apparent gestures around the eyes and the nose. It makes it easier to remember.

Keep in mind that anyone can play around with these gestures like any other pattern lock. If the gestures are too simple and too predictable, the chances are that the intruder will be able to guess them quite soon. It is up to you to decide whether setting up more complex gestures is worth the time.

Choose Secure Passwords

While picture passwords might be easier to remember, the good old letter/number combo passwords are much more secure. Hackers are far more likely to guess your picture password gestures. In this case, complicated combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols work a lot better. Besides, there are other safety measures you can take to enhance the security of ordinary passwords. For example, using a Windows password manager.

A password manager stores your credentials in a secure and encrypted location. It also helps you create more complicated and practically unhackable passwords. A tool like this comes in handy when it comes to logging in faster and ensuring security between all your online accounts. Most password managers also enable backup and syncing. So in case you forget it, you can always check your Windows password in the password manager app on your phone.

Other Security Measures to Consider

There are always many safety measures you can look into to protect your data and device. It doesn’t matter whether you opt for picture passwords as your pattern lock. Make sure to consider activating a powerful anti-malware and antivirus software that has scanning capabilities. Get yourself a trustworthy encryption program that will make your data inaccessible to anyone.

If you opt for the picture password feature on Windows, try to use gestures that no one could guess easily. Don’t use any photos with faces, since those tend to be way too predictable. And always remember that usual passwords might be a more secure alternative after all.