A quick search on MacUpdate the other day revealed a dozen Mac password managers. Some are free. Some are cross platform. Many are apps that store and manage more than login IDs and passwords. And most have some kind of encryption for security.
Which Mac password manager do I use and why?
First, let me explain the criteria. I’m on my Mac constantly When I’m not on the Mac, I’m in front of a PC. My job requires me to login to dozens of sites each day. That means many URLs, many login IDs, and many, many different passwords.
No Stickies for me. I need muscle. Login ID and passwords must sync between devices, therefore, always available, even on my iPhone. They must be encrypted for security. Once it’s set up, the whole system needs to be seamless, yet easy to add new IDs and passwords.
Does that sound like the criteria on your list?
1Password is the tool of choice at the Mincey household and on the job. Here’s why.
Must. Work. Always.
It works. 1Password is an app that stores more than expected, and makes it easier to obtain what’s there than most apps, thanks to extensions for the most popular Mac browsers.
When you visit a web site that requires a login ID and password, 1Password prompts you to save both, including the login URL. That starts the collection process. With 1Password open, all that’s required is to click the icon of a specific site, the web page opens, and 1Password automatically enters login ID and password. You simply watch it happen.
The 1Password secure vault holds Logins, Accounts, multiple Identities, and Secure Notes. In other words, there are places for more information.
There is a section for software serial numbers. And a Wallet that holds credit card numbers, bank account information, and more. It’s stored securely and a master or individual password is required to view the data.
More complex passwords can be generated with a click on the built-in password utility. After awhile, you may find 1Password stores plenty of data that needs to be organized. The Sidebar holds folders which hold sites and other information, making both easier to obtain.
Complex Setup, Sync Easy
The key for me is 1Password’s ability to sync between Macs using Dropbox (you’ll need a free Dropbox account), and sync between Mac and iPhone (an Android phone version is also available) via Wi-Fi. That way my important data is always with me, yet always secure. Without the master password, 1Password won’t open.
Unfortunately, 1Password is not really simple to set up. Fortunately, the 1Password instructions are top notch. Unfortunately, 1Password comes with a healthy price tag. In this case, you get what you pay for. Each browser requires a free 1Password extension so login IDs and passwords can be entered automatically on a web site. You’ll need to follow the directions to install the extensions.
If all you need is a password manager to keep track of half a dozen login ID’s and passwords, 1Password is overkill. Otherwise, I’ve not used one that is better for Mac users (a Windows version is available) with a little hunger for power and more extensive requirements. Support is very good and updates are frequent to keep up with browser changes.