I can lift it from outside, but it's just there's not much grip so it's hard to do. The cord does not really release anything, it just pulls on the chain which pulls the door up/down. I can also just grab one of the center hinges of the door and pull up.
Sounds like you need a new opener.
I have installed and repaired hundreds of openers and have never seen one that would allow the door to be lifted manually without first tripping the emergency release. Either something is broken, worn out or not installed correctly. Most would not even close the door without the door solidly connected to the opener trolley. A properly adjusted door wants to stay open, the opener has to push it at least partway down before gravity will take over.
The timer mechanism and all the extra locking chains kinda negate the purpose of even having the door opener. If you have to get out to unlock, then close and re-lock you may as well just remove it and install a slide latch. Not saying that is a bad thing but I kinda like just pushing the button when it is sub zero or pouring rain.
A modern basic opener will have rolling code technology, auto reversing, and safety photo eyes. It will actually lock the door in the closed position, can be had for around $130 and is an easy diy project.