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iCloud Keychain is a brand-new cloud service in OS X Mavericks and iOS 7.0.3 and launched with the new operating systems on October 22nd. iCloud Keychain stores your usernames, passwords, Wi-Fi networks, and credit card information so that you can easily fill in forms or logins whenever you need. This will sync across Safari and with third party apps that support iCloud Keychain. Your information is securely protected using 256-bit AES encryption, preventing unauthorized use of your information. iCloud Keychain also includes a powerful password generator, which will create unique passwords for your online accounts so that you no longer have to come up with secure or hard-to-guess passwords.

This article will teach you how to setup and use iCloud Keychain for iOS and OS X.

To setup iCloud Keychain on an iOS device, go into Settings and tap on iCloud, then scroll down and tap on Keychain.

 

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Tapping on the switch on the next screen enables iCloud Keychain. When you turn on Keychain you will be prompted to create a second passcode to use with iCloud Keychain. You have a couple of different options for this setting. The first option is to use the same passcode you use to unlock the device. The other option is to create a new code, which would be different from the passcode that is used to unlock into the device. I recommend the second option, as that is going to be more secure.

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By default, when pressing “Create Different Code,” you will be prompted for a four-digit code. You can make this more secure by pressing “advanced options,” which will allow you to create an alphanumeric passcode. This alphanumeric passcode can be something you create, or it can be a complex code that is automatically generated for you.

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After confirming the passcode you will be using with iCloud Keychain, you’ll need to enter your cell phone number. This adds another layer of security: in order to set up iCloud Keychain on other devices, Apple will send a text message containing a verification code to the cell phone you list. You can change this phone number at any point in your iCloud account details on both the iOS device and on the Mac.

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Now that iCloud Keychain is set up on the iOS Device, let’s look at how to set it up on the Mac. Open up System Preferences, and click on iCloud.

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Next, click on the checkbox next to Keychain to turn it on. If your computer does not require a password to unlock your screen it is recommended that you set one up at this point as an extra security measure. It is still optional to set up, but having one will make your Mac more secure and prevent other people from accessing your login information.

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After deciding whether or not to set up a password to wake your Mac you’ll need to enter your Apple ID.

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After entering in the Apple ID password, you need to request approval from one of your other devices in order to use iCloud Keychain. Pressing “Use Code” will send an iCloud security code to the cell number you setup earlier. Enter the verification code from the text message. Clicking on “Request Approval” will pop up a message on one of your other devices asking you to approve the new computer.

For example, after setting up iCloud Keychain on an iOS device and your Mac, you might want to set it up with another iOS device. In that case, Notification Center in Mavericks notifies you that another device has been activated on your iCloud Keychain account.

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Clicking on “View” opens up the iCloud panel in System Preferences. To finish this process, click on “Details” and then enter in the password for the Apple ID that is used with iCloud.

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Now that we have set up iCloud Keychain on both our iOS device and on our Mac, let’s discuss how to use it.  

When visiting websites for the first time on the iOS device using iCloud keychain, you will be asked to confirm whether or not you actually want to save the password in iCloud Keychain. This is a nice feature because you are able to decide which information is or is not being stored in iCloud Keychain.

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The next time you go to that site, Safari will automatically fill in your login information for you.

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Visiting the same site on your Mac will also automatically fill in the login information, even if you have never visited that site on your Mac before.

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When going to a website for the first time on the Mac using iCloud Keychain, it confirms whether or not you actually want to save the password in iCloud Keychain just like it did on iOS.

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The next time you go to that site, it is already automatically filled in with your information.

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As when going from iOS to OS X, any websites you setup on your Mac will automatically be synced to your iOS device and automatically fill in login information where appropriate.

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If you entered your credit card information into iCloud Keychain, it is very easy to pay for things online. Clicking inside the “Card Number” box shows which credit cards you have on file. Click on the one you want to use, and the only thing you have to do is enter the card’s security code. Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.41.13 PM

When using iCloud Keychain on the Mac with Safari, there is a featured called Password Generator. When you are creating an account online, the Password Generator generates a string of random characters and numbers. Using this string as your password will help keep your account more secure than using an easy-to-guess password. To use the generated password, just click on it and your Mac will automatically save the account and password information to your iCloud Keychain.

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iOS 7.0.3 also supports Password Generator but it is a two step process.

However, not all sites will let the Password Generator create random passwords due to the way they are designed. The Mac lets you know that Safari will not suggest a password and it will not be saved before you login. iOS 7, on the other hand, shows this alert after you have entered and saved your password.

You are able to override sites that do not want the passwords to be saved by making sure “Allow Autofill” is turned on in your Safari settings on both iOS and Mac. Continuing with the Yahoo example, this is how a site will look when you are overriding their preferences on both the Mac and in iOS 7.

Now that we discussed how to use iCloud Keychain, let’s discuss how to see what is actually stored in iCloud Keychain. On the iOS device, your iCloud Keychain data is located under Safari in the Settings app. To view the information, open the Safari settings and tap on “Passwords & AutoFill.”

This is where you will be able to see and edit the information. By turning on “Use Contact Info,” your device can automatically fill out forms online using the information in your own contact card. Tapping on “Saved Passwords” will show you what accounts you have stored in iCloud Keychain. Tapping on the account prompts you for the passcode you use to get into the iOS device. However, if you do not have a passcode set up on the iOS device, your password is easily shown. Tapping on “Edit” in the upper right hand corner only gives you the option to delete passwords. If you have “Always Allow” turned on, it will override the website’s preference of not storing your password, but doing this does require the iOS device to have a passcode enabled.

Scrolling down a little bit in the settings page gives you the option to store your credit card information. Tapping on “Saved Credit Cards” allows you to view any credit cards you have stored. To add more credit cards press the “Add Credit Card” button and fill out the form.

On the Mac, your iCloud Keychain data is located in the Safari preferences.To get to Safari Preferences, click on “Safari” in the upper left hand corner when the app is running, and then click “Preferences,” or press command and the comma key at the same time.

Next, click the “Autofill” button at the top of the preferences window.

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Enabling “Using info from my Contacts card” will automatically fill out forms online using your information in your contact card. Clicking on “Edit” opens up Contacts, selects your card, and enables editing. Clicking on “Edit” next to usernames and passwords shows you a list of what accounts that you have stored in iCloud Keychain.

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Enabling “Show passwords for selected websites” in the lower left hand corner prompts for your computer password. If you do not have a password for logging into the computer press just press the “OK” button and it will show you the password. To delete passwords, you can select them and press the delete key on the keyboard, or press the “Remove” button in the lower right hand corner. If you want iCloud Keychain to store passwords for websites that do not allow their passwords to be stored, you can force the feature to work by enabling “Allow AutoFill even for websites that request passwords not to be saved,” in the lower left hand corner.

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You are able to add credit cards by pressing “Edit” next to “Credit Cards,” and then hitting the “Add” button.

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That’s iCloud Keychain, a great and easy way to manage and sync your credit card information and passwords across your Apple devices.