1Password makes it easy to remember

Just the other day I wrote about the importance of using different passwords with different systems to protect yourself against someone effectively stealing your identity. Several folks recommended that I take a look at 1Password, a utility for managing passwords to different web sites.

I've never been a big fan of password utilities. The main reason behind this is that I have a pretty large number of machines I use on a frequent basis and knowing my passwords is just something I want to keep stored in my aging grey matter. The problem with "just knowing" your passwords is that it's quite easy to become lazy and not change your passwords very often because they can be a pain in the ass if you forget them.

Writing them down is always a big no-no too so you need some place to record them. What that justification out of the way I figured I'd try out 1Password. Nice, simple install. You access 1Password from your browser menu - it places a little button labeled 1p directly to the left of the address box in your browsers.  I have both Safari and Firefox installed and it installed into them without any problems.

I won't go too much into the basics of 1Password because they have an excellent video that walks you through the basic usage. Here it is if you are interested:

1Password does a lot more than just save passwords. In playing around with it I noticed that I could store identities in it. I plugged in my name, mailing address, birthdate, etc.  When I come across a form on the web that I want to fill out I simply click the 1P button and select Fill in with Identity and then select my name. Most, though not all, of the fields will quickly populate. Some, like the pull downs for dates, don't work - but I understand why that would be tough from a programatic standpoint.

You can also store other data inside the secure wallet that is 1Password. It has places for things like your credit cards, which I find useful because I hate going on a 1am buying spree and having to run upstairs to grab my wallet to get my credit card number. Now it's right here in 1Password.

Reportedly 1Password will also allow you to synchronize your information on several machines using a .Mac account. I'm about to become a multi-Mac owner so I purchased the 3 seat license for 1Password; I don't have a .Mac account and don't plan on getting one so it will be interesting to see how I will be synchronizing the data between two different machines. If someone has a tip on that please let me know!

Overall it seems like a really great little application and one that I'm glad people recommended it to me. Paul - thanks for recommending it several times :-)


tzs said...

Note that you only need the multiple licenses if you are going to have more than one PERSON use 1Password. E.g., if you need a copy for you and your wife. If, on the other hand, it is just you, using it on more than one computer, then you need only 1 license.

As far as syncing without .Mac goes, you can do it manually. You can export your passwords using the 1Password Interchange File format, and (at least according to the documentation--I have not actually tried this), you can import that on another machine, and it merges things. Note that the 1Password Interchange Format is NOT encrypted, so protect that file carefully! I'd suggest taking a look at encrypted disk images. Make a small encrypted read/write disk image and store it on a thumb drive, protected by a good password. You can use this to transport your 1Password Interchange Format files around.

Alternatively, Google for notMac. There was a reward offered a while ago for a complete non-Apple free replacement for .Mac, and the winner was notMac. From what I've read, it is still quite rough in some areas, but I believe they have syncing working.

bdavidson said...

I love 1Password and use it on all my Macs. .Mac syncing works great and it can also export an iPhone bookmarklet that allowes be to have all of my passwords on my phone. (Blowfish encripted and password proected of course)

Having the passwords on my iPhone works great when I need to get a password and all I have is a sticking Windows machine.

Hendrik said...

You can just copy the keychain from one Mac to another. Constantly keeping it in sync might be a little harder because once it is unlocked I believe the keychain is kept in memory and not necessarily reread from disk if the file on disk changes. I don't change passwords often enough to be bothered by the occasional manual copy.

In general for synchronization across different machines Unison is what you want to use.
It is donationware and works amazingly well. I previously used (and bought) Chronosync and Synk, but Unison is just so much better for my needs. You do have to write a configuration text file to set things up, but it is actually really easy. For the syncing there is a surprisingly nice GUI that shows what will be copied or deleted and lets you resolve any conflicts.

Hendrik said...

Regarding notMac: I did Google it. Apparently one guy worked really hard to win the competition back then. He made the source code open source and nobody has picked it up to fix bugs or make it work on Leopard.
See this post on the notMac forum.

Paul said...

No problem David!


David Alison said...

@Tzs: Thanks for the info man. I checked out notMac and, as Hendrik points out below it looks like it's not active any longer.

@Hendrik: Thanks for all the info. I've downloaded and installed Unison and it looks promising. Parts of the new Mac Pro have started to come in (HD, Mem), though the main box doesn't arrive until Friday. In the meantime I'm going to try and synch my Windows machines to my Mac using Unison. Looks like a great tool.

Vasque said...

Excellent blog David, I've been a windows developer for 11 years and converted to a MacBook in February. It's so amusing to see your posts as they seem to mirror my experiences exactly.

1Password is great - especially registering the license (you'll see what I mean if/when you purchase it). I've used RoboForm for windows for many years and the inability to use it on OSX was one of my biggest worries before moving over to a mac - but 1Password has addressed all my concerns.

The 1Password app will also work with your iPhone (no additional cost) and they also provide a Web service so you can even share your links on any machine which has web-access (see their website for details)

David Alison said...

@Vasque: Sounds like we are going to through similar experiences - that's when I bought my MacBook. I don't have an iPhone yet because I don't want to pay Sprint a ransom to get out of my current contract so I'm having to be a bit patient on this one.

Anonymous said...

As for me,i prefer use LoginTrap.It’s prog can capture every login events.I use this tool and I know who logs on my Mac. It’s really good program. Try)