Password managers are great for when I don't want to remember dozens of logins, keys, passwords and more. But what if I have a few mobile devices lying around? They unlock with a swipe pattern but there's no real way to represent that in a password manager.

Do I just write out the pattern in the password field? How can I do that without expecting my future self to remember that LR stands for lower-right and not left-to-right?

Or should I just forget about this and skip straight to a password unlock if I forgot the pattern? I guess that's fine for current devices, but what if they start introducing pattern-unlocks on other access controls or this isn't available? It seems Android 5.0 removed the option to unlock with a Google account.

  • 1
    Well unless password managers start supporting swipe patterns, I guess you're stuck with creating your own representation. If you think you won't remember it, write it down (or add a note to the password, if applicable), or just write lower-right instead of LR. It seems to me like this is very dependent on your password manager. What answer are you expecting?
    – Neta
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 17:50

3 Answers 3


I would suggest giving each phone a name, then for the password use the keys on the num pad to represent the dots to hit.

For example, if you have a swipe pattern in the shape of an L (starting on top left), your password would be 74123. If you go with every dot in a "Z" shape (starting on top left), the password would be 789654123.

Most can't store pictures, but that would be another option. Take a picture of dots or draw them out on Paint, then draw the lines showing the dots to hit. Then you can just name the file something to do with the phone it's for, then store it somewhere only you have access to.

Example of "Z" Shape as a picture

"Z" Pattern

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    this is the most common technique that is used by normal users to remember the swipes. But without the knowledge how to interpret the letter into the swipe, since it might not be unambiguous (for example the Z might be written directly with diagonal swipe).
    – Jakuje
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 20:11
  • 2
    @Jakuje - he's not suggesting using the shape of the letter to remember the pattern, but to number the dots 1 - 9 and use the those numbers to describe the pattern. He just mentioned the "Z" because that's the shape of his sample pattern. Using the numbers, a "diagonal pattern Z" would be 7895123. The only ambiguity is remembering how the dots are numbered (i.e. with 123 at the top like a phone keypad or at the bottom like a computer or calculator keypad). The answer would probably be more clear if the diagram included the numbers for each position.
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 3:55
  • @Johnny True, but paint's text tools are annoying. So they were left out because of laziness :)
    – dakre18
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 0:12

Number the dots 1-n like a phone key pad and record the sequence of numbers.

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    Is that a question or an answer? Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 17:58

The swipe grid can be thought of as a two-dimensional array:

A 2-D graph in the a-n,n representation

Which means you can pick whichever representation of an array you like. Graph theory and computer science have many ways to abstractly represent the data, especially data structures like a directed graph, a linked list, etc. You don't have to write code, but you could list something like [0][0], [0][1], [1][2] and so on.

  • This doesn't really feel like a complete answer. Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 22:13
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    To make this method a bit simpler, just give each dot a single digit number. i.e. 1 is the top left dot and 9 is the bottom right dot. In the password manager just store the number for each dot that is hit. That takes care of direction and location at the same time. Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 22:57

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