First time checking out this series? You’ll get the most value by starting at the beginning and checking out the series overview. In our previous article we took a look at how to approach and manage passwords. Today we’ll jump into applying those ideas with 1Password.
Note for regular readers, the already tech savvy, and IT professionals: this series is designed as a resource you can share with those you are helping or for those looking to become tech savvy on their own.
Background, Expectations, & Best Practices
In last week’s post, Michael went into a high-level overview on the importance of password management and preparing to implement a strategy. A lot of the frustration with password management stems from how overwhelming it can feel to get started. With so many usernames, passwords, sites, and accounts out there, the prospect of organizing it all can seem like climbing a mountain.
So while there is a decent amount of work to get things going, it will pay big dividends in time savings and reduced frustration. We’ll help you see this is really doable by breaking down the process step by step.
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In today’s article we’ll take a look at getting started with password management using a 9to5Mac team favorite, 1Password. The AgileBits app has grown rapidly in recent years due to its integrations with multiple browsers, desktop operating systems, and even mobile devices. The ability to use, quite literally, one password to gain access to all your various passwords everywhere is extremely powerful and useful.
Note: While today’s post applies specifically to 1Password, the concepts shared at the bottom of the article apply to nearly all password managers. The point of today’s post is to show how easy it is to get started, without having to worry about feeling overwhelmed. You’ve got this!
Hopefully after having read Michael’s post from last week you’ve gotten a head start on organizing your myriad of passwords. If not, I suggest at least getting a handful of them together before diving into today’s post. We’ll want to use real usernames and passwords so you can see just how powerful and quick it is to get started. Once you’ve got that together, we’re ready to start!
Signing up for 1Password
For this tutorial, we’re going to sign up for the free trial of 1Password. The 30-day free trial, which requires no credit card to sign up, includes all the features you would find in the full-priced app. To get started, head over to 1Password’s site and follow through the steps laid out there.
Note: When signing up, 1Password will ask what type of account you’ll need. If you only plan to use 1Password for yourself, individual is fine. If you want use it for multiple family members, or even with a team at work select the appropriate options. You can change these later if need be.
Once your account is created, and you’ve logged into the 1Password site, you’ll have the option to save your Emergency Kit and to download the 1Password apps, do both! The Emergency Kit will help us quickly set up the apps once they are downloaded and is a critical piece of your 1Password account. Make sure to securely store your Emergency Kit somewhere, 1Password will offer some suggestions where and how to do so.
Here are direct links to download the apps for your convenience:
Signing in to 1Password
For the purposes of this post we’ll focus on getting up and running with 1Password on the Mac. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, go ahead and launch 1Password.
As it’s your first time running 1Password, the software will ask you how you’d like to sign in. We’ve already configured an account on 1Password.com, so go ahead and select that option. Now go ahead and open up the previously saved Emergency Kit on your Mac, we’ll be using it in the next step.
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If you’ve got the Emergency Kit open on your computer, you can select Scan your account details. This will make the 1Password app open a small window which you can drag over your Emergency Kit and read its data. If you’ve got the Emergency Kit printed out, you can select the second option Enter your account details manually and fill everything out. Regardless of what option you choose, you’ll have to manually fill in your Master Password.
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Almost done! After signing in to your 1Password account, the app will present you with a few options. Some of these options can significantly benefit you! For the Security pane, I make sure to select both options as I want 1Password to immediately lock when I close it.
For the next pane I make sure Rich Icons are on because I like the visual aesthetic. On the third pane, the one I consider most important, make sure to choose Yes, use 1Password mini (we’ll come back to this soon later). On the final pane, take your pick on whether or not you want to receive the newsletter.
You’re all done! You officially have a 1Password account with a free 30-day trial, have the program installed, and are now ready to go! The question you probably already have is, “How do I get my passwords in 1Password?!” That’s a great question, and one we’ll tackle in a way as to not overwhelm you on day one.
Thanks to the fact that you enabled 1Password mini we now have a small 1Password app that runs in the background ready to be used at any time. As the app runs, it keeps an eye out for whenever you might be logging into a website and offers to save that password if it’s never been saved before! This takes away some of the biggest frustrations with password management, so you can just keep doing what you’re doing and let the tool work for you.
Installing the browser extension
To take full advantage of 1Password mini, we’ll have to install the browser extension. After having installed 1Password for the first time, the next time you launch your favorite browser it will offer to install the 1Password browser extension. Let’s go ahead and manually install it though so you get a feel of where to go if you need to.
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While 1Password is open, head over to its preferences (1Password → Preferences or CMD + , on your keyboard). In the Preferences pane select Browsers, and then Install Browser Extension. Your default web browser will launch to 1Password’s browser extension page; hit the big green button to start downloading the extension and follow the instructions on how to install it.
Once installed, whenever you visit a site where you haven’t previously saved the password with 1Password, you’ll be offered the chance to save your credentials.
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Now that you’ve installed 1Password, enabled its mini app to run, and have the browser extension installed, you can slowly begin inputting your passwords into the app. To start, we suggest just going about your normal web browsing experience and logging into sites like you normally do, and saving the passwords whenever 1Password prompts you to do so.
This may seem tedious at first, but once you’ve saved your password into 1Password, it’ll remember them for the future. Once saved, all you have to hit is CMD + \ on the keyboard to have the 1Password browser extension automatically fill your passwords into the website.
Note: If your browser auto-filling your passwords because of previous visits, you may not get prompted by 1Password to save it. To get around this in Safari: open Preferences (Safari → Preferences or CMD + ,), head to the Passwords pane, and remove all the passwords in that list. Just make sure you know what the information is or have it saved somewhere down before removing from Safari.
There are various ways to save your passwords into 1Password, but today’s explained method should be the least tedious for newcomers to password management. If you’re ready to begin adding in a handful of passwords, you can also launch the 1Password app on your computer, hit the + sign in the 1Password window and select the appropriate category. (There are a lot to pick from, but if you’re adding in website logins, the Login option is your best bet).
For now, take the next week to slowly fill out your password management tool. When and if you come across questions and quandaries about how best to do something, let us know in the comments below! We know getting started may seem overwhelming, so we’ll help where we can!
Also if you need support from someone in person, don’t hesitate to ask. Just make sure they take the time to explain details thoroughly as they go and you’re fully involved in the process. Once a backup strategy and password management strategy are in place (or are even in the works), you’re on the upswing!
Note: If you ever have any issues with 1Password, they have a great support page here.
1. How is this password manager better than macOS’ iCloud Keychain?
You may have seen Safari or iOS offer to save your passwords with iCloud Keychain, which is a great way to keep accounts connected and your information saved and updated across all of your Apple products. While a great piece of the Apple ecosystem, it doesn’t offer you the flexibility and integrations that a password manager does.
For example, with 1Password’s password generator you can automatically generate random passwords to a very specific set of requirements. No more making up your own! iCloud Keychain can create passwords for you, but doesn’t offer control like 1Password. You can also save much more than just user names and passwords with 1Password, including memberships, ID’s, secure notes, and bank information, all with great organization built into the application.
If you’d like to read more about iCloud Keychain, you can do so here. We’ll cover more on this specifically in future articles in this series.
2. How is this better than a document I keep on an external drive?
Keeping a file on an external drive is not only insecure, but liable to be lost. Using a password manager allows you to take your passwords wherever you go: on your phone, on your watch, on your computer, and even online. 1Password’s security uses bank level end-to-end encryption; more information on it can be found here.
3. I have hundreds of passwords, where do I start?
Take it one site at a time. As you log into websites and your password manager asks if you’d like to save the credentials, do so. The next time you visit it will have remembered it and it makes everything much easier.
If you decide to enter them manually, stop before you become overwhelmed. It only took a few weeks to eventually move all my passwords into 1Password, and since doing so I’ve been password headache free!
Today’s post focused on 1Password, but there are plenty of alternative apps out there to use! I personally use 1Password because I trust the team behind the product, but if you’re looking for alternatives we’ve listed some of them below:
- LastPass (Free, upgrade to premium for $12/year)
- DashLane (Free, upgrade to premium for $39.99/year)
- KeePass (Free, Open Source)