Apples’ favorite password manager goes toe to toe with a sea of challengers. Is it still as great as it once was? Spoiler alert: Yes.
1Password is the gold standard in password managers. Affordable family pricing, easy sharing options, and wide platform support make this a great choice for most people.
1Password was the first password manager I’d ever heard of. I began using it around 2008 or 2009, back when it was a standalone application without any type of cloud sync.
Spoiler alert: 1Password is still the password manager I use today, and I’m completely fine with that.
It’s been a real treat to watch the company behind 1Password (AgileBits) evolve into a gigantic team, and to watch the product go through countless iterations and enhancements.
Recently, it was announced that 1Password inked a deal with Apple that will roll out the password manager to all of Apple’s 123,000+ employees.
That’s a pretty strong endorsement, to say the least.
So, let’s dig into the product and see how it stacks up.
In terms of “doing the thing that password managers have to do” — 1Password fares very well. It gets its’ namesake from the notion of having one password to rule them all.
You can save any number of complex, crazy hard to remember passwords into a vault and retrieve them with one single master password.
In addition to this core utility, 1Password also has support for a handful of non-password things.
Typically you’ll access your logins on an as-needed basis. It’s not often that I find myself scrolling through the list of hundreds of passwords I’ve saved. Mostly I just visit the sites I want to visit, and when prompted to log in, utilize the browser extension to gain access.
Note that at the time of writing there are two browser extensions:
1Password and 1Password X.
1Password X is currently available as a browser extension for both Chrome and Firefox.
The extension aims to become a standalone 1Password integration for your web browser. This means that you don’t have to have the desktop version installed and that your operating system isn’t in charge of handling your logins.
It also means that 1Password works well on Chromebooks and Linux (assuming you’re on Firefox or Chrome).
The extension works quite a bit differently than the default 1password extension. Instead of clicking on the extension icon in the navigation bar, there’s a little 1password icon on the form you’re trying to log into.
Clicking on this icon allows you to access your saved logins. If you haven’t yet saved a login for the current site, it’ll prompt you to do so in a little popover.
One of my favorite features of the new extension is that it can suggest a secure password when creating an account or updating your password. This is an excellent, time-saving addition, as the older version required you to click on the navigation bar icon and select the password generator.
One thing I did not like is that when you edit a login, it takes you to the web interface.
Watchtower is a service that is included in every 1Password subscription. It’ll alert you about things like weak passwords, re-used or duplicated passwords, and that certain sites support two-factor authentication.
My favorite thing about Watchtower though, is that it checks haveibeenpwned.com and alerts you if any of your passwords have appeared in data breaches. This is a pretty killer feature.
Based on some feedback from the Basecamp employee handbook, AgileBits added a new mode where you can remove your sensitive data from your device until a later date.
This is especially useful during international travel, when you may be asked to unlock 1Password and share your data.
The idea is that you mark specific logins as ‘safe for travel’ and activate travel mode. Then, when you’re subject to a search, the investigator won’t be able to find the majority of your sensitive data — and they won’t even know that travel mode is enabled.
You can turn it off again by simply logging in after you arrive at your destination.
1Password has both iOS and Android mobile apps. I’ve used both of them extensively and am happy to report that they work just fine.
It’s always a bit cumbersome to deal with copy/paste and passwords on mobile devices in general, but the apps do make it as simple as can be expected. That said, I do wish it were easier to generate a new password or save a new login. This seems more like an operating system issue than something that AgileBits can do though.
I’ve found that both apps work best when you disable the built-in browser / iCloud style password saving features on your device.
If you’re on a team or family plan, sharing logins or documents is pretty straightforward. You create a new “shared” vault and then invite members to access.
Note that people do not need to be on the same team or family as you, but they do need a 1Password account.
It’s also easy to manage permissions and add/remove logins or people as time goes on.
1Password used to be a standalone app, without cloud sync and was a one-time purchase. I still have friends that use this version and swear by it.
However, the company now only offers the subscription version, which gives you access to 1Password.com and their cloud sync service. I’ve found the service to be reliable and worth the money.
Pricing is $2.99 per month (when billed annually) for single users and $4.99 per month (again, when billed annually) for Families (up to 5 members). You can add additional family members for $1 each per month.
There’s a one-month free trial available for both.
Business pricing starts at $3.99 per user per month.