I use many, many online services that require passwords access. Some for important stuff like online banking, or gmail, or collaboration tools, or travel arrangements, or Twitter. Others are less important, like news sites that require logins. I was starting to get concerned about password security for all of that, so I tried the Mac application 1Password, which several people recommended to me.
1Password seems pretty powerful. But it’s not for me.
Reason: 1Password only integrates with Web browsers, not with 3rd party applications. For 3rd-party applications, you can generate stronger passwords using 1Password — but then you have to store them in the OSX keychain or elsewhere. If you rely on such applications regularly, this vastly reduces the potential security benefit of 1Password.
This became a dealbreaker for me. Here’s why…
On my laptop I use the Twitter applications Twhirl and Tweetdeck daily. Which means that to use the complex passwords generated by this program, I’d need to either check 1Password and copy and paste each time I wanted to log in — which is a hassle. I’d quickly tire of that hassle and then either store the passwords in the applications, or in a separate file, or in the Mac OSX keychain — all of which would defeat the purpose of using a password-management program.
1Password actively touts the advantages of its keychain over the OSX keychain. Which is why I found it ironic that today a 1Password rep recommended to me that for 3rd party apps I could still use the Mac OSX keychain for password storage. That’s kind of like saying, “Well, you can’t order the chicken, but this rat tastes like chicken.”
1PASSWORD ON IPHONE: WHAT’S THE POINT?
1Password prominently touts its iPhone application, which syncs with your Mac. This lack of integration is an even bigger problem on the iPhone, which has no copy and paste. On the iPhone I primarily use applications other than the browser to access services I use daily — including e-mail. Since 1Password doesn’t integrate with any of those applications, I’d have to manually type in those complex passwords for access, and then store them in the apps.
The only purpose of the 1Password iPhone application apparently is to securely store on your phone sensitive data, like your Social Security number. It won’t let you, say, use the complex password for your BrightKite account, which you set up via 1Password on your laptop, to log in to the BrightKite app on your iPhone. You’d have to type it in manually, or store the password in the app — which again undermines the intended security benefit.
So although 1Password appears to be useful in some ways, for me it’s got too many dealbreakers. I’ve requested a refund.
MASTER KEYWORD WOES? HOW TO START FROM SCRATCH
Oh, and: When I first installed 1Password, I had a problem with the Master Password for the 1Password keychain (something you need to enter in order to be able to use your other passwords — supposedly the only password you’ll need to remember). 1Password was not recognizing the master keyword I’d set. This may have been due to something I did wrong; I’m not blaming 1Password for this.
I ended up having to ditch my original 1Password keychain and make a clean start. In case you need to do the same thing, here are the full instructions (which I couldn’t find on the 1Password site, but 1Password rep Jamie Phelps sent them to me:
First, let’s make sure we’re starting over with a clean slate of 1Password. Make sure that 1Password is installed in your Applications folder rather than running from the disk image or the Desktop or some other location. Second, drag the following files to your desktop if you find them:
- Home > Library > Keychains > 1Password.keychain
- Home > Library > Application Support > 1Password > 1Password.agilekeychain
- Home > Library > Preferences > com.1passwd.plist
Now, try launching 1Password and you should be presented with the blue setup screen again. Go through the initial setup and see if you continue to have trouble. If your master password does not work for you after this, please let us know and we’ll investigate further.
I post that in case anyone else is having the same problem, since I could only find the first step in that process on the 1Password site.
In summary — 1Password may be a great solution if you don’t rely regularly on applications other than your browser to access online services. As I said, several people I respect have recommended it. But if 3rd party applications are crucial to your online experience (on your computer or iPhone), then think twice before buying this software.