Core Fruition

Review: 1Password

Overview

1passwdicon1Password, by Agile Web Solutions, can best be described as OS X’s Keychain concept on steroids.  To quote their website:

1Password takes care of all your online passwords so you can use strong and unique passwords for every site and never forget any of them!  …  In short, 1Password keeps track of all your web passwords, automates sign-in, guards from identity theft, and allows you to stop worrying about your safety while online.

I was skeptical of this utility before using it, willing to give it a shot after watching their 3 minute movie, and totally sold after using it for a week.

The Good

 

[caption id=“attachment_182” align=“alignleft” width=“310” caption=“After installing, 1Password looks right at home in the Safari toolbar, providing access to a wealth of functionality.”]After installing, 1Password looks right at home in the Safari toolbar, providing access to a wealth of functionality.[/caption]

Whenever I try out new utility software I want it to integrate into my current workflow as seamlessly as possible.  This area is one in which 1Password excels: after installing it I didn’t have to change the way I worked.  1Password just stepped in and took the place of Safari’s keychain integration.  It would have been nice for 1Password to offer to import my keychain passwords, but on the other hand it was nice that it just got out of the way and let me keep working.  Importing your Safari passwords into 1Password is accessible through a menu item.

 

The wallets feature is a fantastic implementation of something that I’ve shoehorned into Keychain Access for years.  It provides a simple, intuitive way to store credit and bank card numbers, software serial numbers, and much more.

[caption id=“attachment_181” align=“alignright” width=“470” caption=“Wallets at work”]Wallets at Work[/caption]

1Password also provides a feature called Identities, which allows you to set up different sets of personal information that you can use to automatically fill in web forms.  For instance, I currently have two identities set up: Trusted Info and Untrusted Source.  When I visit a site that asks me for registration information I can simply click on the 1Password icon in Safari and fill in the form on that site with my real information (Trusted Info), or, if I think they might spam me relentlessly, my mostly-real information (Untrusted Source).  It’s a fantastic feature that expands upon Safari’s AutoFill functionality in a great way.

One of the mini-workflows that I have put in place for myself recently goes something like this:

  1. Come across a site where I need to register an account, so I choose a user name.

  2. Open Keychain Access and create a new entry for this particular registration.

  3. Use the password generation feature to create a new, random password for that entry.

  4. Copy that password into the clipboard, switch back to Safari and paste the password into the registration field.

Now, with 1Password I have been able to turn those four steps into two: I click the 1Password button in Safari, choose Strong Password Generator from the menu, and, assuming I don’t want to configure my password, hit the Fill button.  When viewing your passwords in the 1Password application you also get a nice password strength indicator for all your passwords so that you can see which ones you may need to beef up a bit.

[caption id=“attachment_184” align=“aligncenter” width=“527” caption=“Four steps reduced to two.”]Four steps reduced to two.[/caption]

 

 

There are many more features that 1Password touts that I have yet to even touch (Palm and iPhone syncing, Secure Notes and smart categories).  While I can’t vouch for them, if these features have been given the same attention to detail as the rest of the app I’m sure they are fantastic.

The Bad

 

[caption id=“attachment_183” align=“alignright” width=“547” caption=“A plethora of import options await you, just not one for the OS X keychain.”]A plethora of import options await you, just not one for the OS X keychain.[/caption]

One issue that I found a bit frustrating was that there was no way to import my entire OS X keychain.  As I said above, I have shoehorned a lot of information into my keychain over the years and it would have been great to see an intelligent import feature.  The omission is particularly glaring in the face of all the importing that is available.

 

 I tried for a while to come up with additional “bad” things to say about 1Password, but it really is a solid app that has very few poor qualities.

Final Thoughts

Like I said at the beginning of this review, before using 1Password I was pretty sure it had very little to offer me.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  In a world where time has become a very precious commodity 1Password has streamlined a lot of my workflow.  It may not sound like much, but I find myself navigating the monstrous number of passwords, numbers, and serials much faster and easier than I ever have with OS X’s Keychain Access app.  If you are looking for a beautifully designed, easy to use app that integrates perfectly with, and improves the way you presently work look no further than 1Password.

You can buy 1Password from their website for $39.95 for a single user license, or $69.95 for a family license.

Links

1Password’s site