Back to 1Password

Back in December, I talked about switching to Apple Keychain/iOS Password manager:

So after 8 months of trying to use the built-in password manager from Apple, I finally gave up and paid for a 1Password subscription. The truth is that the iOS password manager is pretty good, but the macOS Keychain app is a pile of unusable garbage. There are so many bad things about it, but here are a few that standout:

  1. When you have two-factor authentication enabled on a website, the kind that sends you a text message, the Keychain app will helpfully store the random text message code as the username for this website. The next time you login it will offer this nonsense as your username. So it because a constant headache of going into the Keychain app and deleting these garbage entries.
  2. If you want to look at the password, you have to check a box, which pops up a dialog where you enter your password, if you’re lucky it shows you the password. But most of the time, it does nothing, so you click the box and enter your password, 2, 3 or 4 times before Keychain finally decides you’ve been tortured enough and it will finally show you the password.
  3. Sometimes when you sign up for a new website, keychain will offer up a strong password. Usually the password gets saved in keychain, but sometimes the password is just lost. You then have to go through a password reset on a website you just signed up for.
  4. Keychain is very eager to update the password on the website. You might be filling out some other fields on a website and then it asks if you want to update the password on that website. A few times I mistakenly said OK and lost the password for that site since there is no history of passwords in Keychain.

There are many other problems, but I think I can stop here. 1Password handles all of these situations much better. I don’t expect macOS to be as full featured as a power user app like 1Password, but it should be better at the basic job of keeping and protecting your password. The Keychain app might be the worst Apple app I’ve ever used. They really should be embarrassed at how bad it is especially for something as critical in modern day computing as password management.

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1Password is the right choice for people who want a mature app with a well-deserved reputation for reliability, who need to share data with colleagues and family, who are willing to keep their data on 1Password’s servers, who are willing to pay for the service with an ongoing subscription, and who can put up with a certain amount of lowest-common-denominator user interface design as 1Password attempts to support the widest possible range of operating systems and devices.

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Do you know if any of these issues are resolved in Monterey? I’m on 1P now and I’m considering leaving it once Monterey comes out.

Keychain is bad enough that Apple provided 1Password to its employees.

I wonder what mail app they use?

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Keychain isn’t really intended as an enterprise tool, whereas many of the frustrations people are having with 1Password may ultimately stem from it’s movement in an enterprisey direction.

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I have to say I’ve used Keychain for a long time, and never had this (or the other three problems mentioned) occur.

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Yeah, these problems are familiar to me.

Maybe I’m just used to ignoring or denying Keychain’s prompts to store things.

I really hate the suggested “strong passwords”.

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I think 1Password continues to be a good tool for many of its customers, but their “enterprisey direction” is what has caused me to move my data to the Strongbox app.

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Thanks for doing this experiment. I guess I’ll stay with 1p for awhile longer.

I’ve had problems 1, 3 and 4. Thank you for reminding me! I don’t recall having problem 2, but I do remember being frustrated at the number of steps it requires just to see and/or copy your danged password.

do you use web browser other than Safari? If so, how do you use the Strongbox/Keepass in those browser? Thanks

I’m back to only using the Safari browser. And I happily do without an autofill/autologin extension. I click the “copy password and open URL” button in the Strongbox app, look things over, paste my password, and hit Return. This is the workflow that suits me perfectly.

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What OS are you running on your Mac? Is it Big Sur or did you do this testing with the Monterey Beta? The reason I ask is because the Password Management system is to be majorly revamped and modernized in Monterey.

I’m using Big Sur, I haven’t tried the beta. I’m eager to see what they have in store. Hopefully dropping Keychain for a different app.

Yeah, by all reports is a fully fledged password manager. Here is an article on it from MacRumors:

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This sounds promising.

More and more, while I still value the ecosystem interoperability, Apple’s own software seems to be mostly not as good as the alternatives. The wife and her one iPhone for everything will be fine w/ any keychain Apple offers up. Syncing between four devices, 2FA, etc., I’ll stick to 1PW, Fastmail and Firefox.

Looks like I might have abandoned macOS password management too soon.

You said that you had to to get a subscription to get 1Password 7. I have a new M1 Mac Mini and I was able to get the stand alone license for 1Password 7. It was just hard to find on their web site. I am not a fan of subscriptions but will consider it when that is all that is available.