Q: You often recommend password manager services, and I understand the security benefits of these but have been reluctant to subscribe to one for three reasons.

  • The cost. I already pay for internet, TV, streaming services, Microsoft Office, Norton security, etc. I’m not thrilled about adding another paid subscription service. Are there reliable free password manager providers? If so, can they be used with both Windows and Apple iOS devices? I have a mixture of both. 
  • It seems like once you sign up for a password manager you can never get out of it. What happens to your passwords if you ever want to stop the service or switch to another provider? I have more than 200 website passwords. Would I ever be able to access them again?
  • I could use the password manager service that comes with my Norton 360 subscription, but that only covers five devices. I currently have three unprotected devices. Wouldn’t every device I own that accesses websites need the password manager service?

John Sprague, Bothell

A: The good news is that all the major web browsers now offer password management so, no, you don’t have to pay for a password management service if all you want to do is to save your passwords.

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And every password manager that I’m aware of — whether built into your browser or a separate application — allows you to export passwords so, yes, you can move to a different password manager.

So why pay money for a third-party password manager? Several reasons. First, I use several different browsers and I don’t want to have to replicate all my passwords in each built-in password manager.

Secondly, I like the ability to assign emergency access to another person in case I’m disabled or worse. That way it’s not a super pain for my family to access my important accounts.

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Third, I like to be able to selectively share passwords with others.

Fourth, yes, I don’t want these abilities tied to a program that has limits on how many devices are supported.

Finally, I like my password manager’s ability to automatically generate unique and strong passwords.

I use LastPass, but there are other programs available. All the password managers I know of work on both Apple and Windows devices.

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Q: I write using LibreOffice Writer. In most cases it’s fairly well behaved, with the exception of two bugs: One, it fails to clear the clipboard so you can only cut and paste text once. Only by completely closing the document and then reopening it will it clear.

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The most frustrating bug, though, is its insistence on italicizing text unbidden. I use italics often for my scientific writing, but LibreOffice Writer will just arbitrarily start a new sentence in italics. You’re constantly having to unclick the “i” icon.

“Reporting a bug” is almost impossible, I am not a tech-geek so I don’t understand all the steps LibreOffice demands to report a bug. Apparently, you have to compose the bug report in Ubuntu. I have no idea what that is.

I’m not the only one I’ve seen in my research that has this problem and throughout several updates and iterations of LOW, the bug has been ignored.

Can you help me figure out how to stop the unwanted italicizing?

Michelle Blanchard, Olympia

A: I’m afraid that’s the trade off. LibreOffice has a lot going for it, starting with the fact that it’s available for free. And it offers file compatibility with other office suites such as Microsoft Office. The suite is generally well regarded, though it doesn’t score as high as Microsoft Office in any comparison reviews I’ve seen.

As for your particular problems using LibreOffice, yes, I have seen similar reports of unwelcome issues with the suite’s clipboard and italicizing. And I’m afraid I don’t have a solution for you.

There is no official consumer support for LibreOffice. I can, however, suggest that if you want to continue using LibreOffice you may want to engage with other users. Instead of trying to create bug reports you can chat with users and search FAQs here: libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/.