Creating strong passwords, unique for each Web site, is an indisputably valuable piece of advice. It's also indisputably difficult to do, since remembering a bunch of complicated passwords is a nightmare.
Dashlane is the latest of several programs — such as 1Password and RoboForm — that record what you type into a site the first time. Afterwards, clicking a single button on the Web browser fills in all the fields, such as username, password, address, credit card number and more.
A single password unlocks the program, so you need remember one password to log into any site. These apps also sync across computers and mobile devices over the Internet. Dashlane does it seamlessly, however, while 1Password, for example, requires setting up a Dropbox cloud storage account.
Dashlane stands out, though, for its focus on Web shopping. The free app is exceptionally good at figuring out the long forms for ecommerce Web sites, and it saves a record of everything you buy.
In a spot check against 1Passowrd, a favorite on Macs, Dashlane scored a few extra points. It filled in the apartment number of an address, which 1Password missed. Also, when entering the credit card data for a purchase on BestBuy.com, 1Password also started filling in the expiration date for a nonexistent gift card.
Another benefit of Dashlane: It's free. 1Password sells for $50 on Mac and Windows. RoboForm is $30 on either platform.
Dahslane's standout feature, though, came at the end of the purchase. It offered to save a record of the transaction, with vendor, amount, credit card used, shipping address and category (such as home, kids or travel).
The app also grabbed a screenshot of the confirmation page, which can serve as a receipt. This is incredibly valuable for completing expense reports itemizing business deductions on taxes. A service like the free Mint.com records and takes a stab at categorizing any purchases made with a debit card or credit card, but it doesn't save receipts.
Dashlane put all these receipts in a folder labeled "July 2012, which was right. But when we opened the individual records, they were all dated "24 May 2011."
There were other glitches as well. Though Dashlane remembered the username and password for Twitter, it could not record the password part for sites such as Facebook and Amazon. (Dashlane said that they have not heard of this problem from thier users.) And it offered no help when we set up a Pinterest account. After we opened the record for those sites and manually typed in the password, Dashlane was able to autofill the password afterwards, but manually fixing it was a pain.
Also, while Dashlane works on the Chrome, Firefox and Safari Web browsers, it doesn't yet support Interned Explorer, though the company says it will starting next Tuesday (July 24). Dashlane also expects to launch in a few weeks a revised mobile app that brigs all the functions of the desktop program.
While Dashlane still requires a to keep running smoothly, it indisputably saves time on passwords, and the recording of purchases is a truly useful feature. And at a price of zero, it's worth a shot.