1Password 7 for Mac review: Password manager with small improvements that add up

1Password 7 for Mac has a variety of small
improvements and a fresher design that add up to a nice bump
justifying the version number. But because its maker,
AgileBits, switched to a subscription model as its dominant
method of offering software, the company is clearly less
obsessed with including the kitchen sink, as it tries to offer
ongoing updates and new features between major releases to
justify the cost to current subscribers. And that’s fine: a
rush to cram features—some half-baked—into new versions of
software where developers rely heavily on upgrade fees as part
of their revenue cycle doesn’t benefit users.

1password7macos redesigned interface agilebits AgileBits

A cleaner and crisper display organizes your passwords and
other information for quick access and higher legibility.

1Password provides a secure, central place to store your
password and account information, generate new strong passwords
uniquely for every site and service, and retrieve or fill them
into websites and apps. You can also store bank accounts,
credit cards, licenses (of the software and fishing
variety), secure notes, file attachments, and other bits and
pieces. The app also handles time-based one-time passwords
(TOTPs) used as second factors for some sites and ecosystems.

The latest version adds more support for inserting your account
login within native apps, as opposed to via plug-ins for
Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Instead of copying, you can just
drag and drop items from 1Password into the app’s login fields.
That’s a nice update, but what’s better is that 1Password can
detect if an app is presenting a password dialog, and shows
only entries for that app or by that software developer by name
at the top of the list of potential items to fill.

1password7macos app specific display
IDG

Bring up 1Password mini while viewing a login dialog, and
it shows passwords appropriate to the app and company.

1Password organizes your passwords into vaults, each of which
can have a unique password. Because of how strong the algorithm
is for locking the password, even having an archive stolen
would be of no utility to the thief. You can have just a single
vault, or many, depending on how you want to compartmentalize,
and with whom you want to share some of your secrets. Version 7
for Mac improves the presentation of multiple vaults in the
1Password interface, and gives you better access to switch
vaults, as well as move or copy entries among them using drag
and drop.

1password7macos better access to vaults blurred
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1Password 7 makes it easier to navigative among multiple
vaults, including moving and copying items.

This version has stepped up improvements for what’s called
1Password mini, a pop-up style interface available from the
system menu and from the browser plug-in menu. The previous
version was cramped and often made it hard to select among
multiple logins for the same site. For filling in financial
information, like credit cards or bank accounts, it also made
it difficult to reveal what you needed and to select those
details. With the new version, it’s not only better at
presenting information in a compact and accessible way, but you
can also opt to pop out a freestanding window for a given
entry. (Previously, that required navigating to the item,
viewing its pop-out window still attached to the mini menu, and
then clicking an anchor icon. The new process is much less
awkward.)

AgileBits started to integrate password warnings into 1Password
a few versions ago, and in this release, it lets you tap into
haveibeenpwned.com, a site run by Australian
security researcher Troy Hunt. When account data gets released
into the wild from site and service breaches, Hunt incorporates
the list of email addresses into his unfortunately increasingly
massive database. By opting in to check his list in 1Password,
you can see at a glance which of your accounts by site are
listed at his service. There’s no cost for this. You can also
sign up at haveibeenpwned.com to receive email notification of
future breaches, which I recommend, but it’s great to have that
correlated to your 1Password entries at a glance.

The most noticeable thing about version 7 is the crisper
interface—it’s also the least important, as the previous
approach was just fine. But as part of the ongoing evolution of
macOS apps that’s taken years to walk fully away from the
skeuomorphic approach that Apple once pursued, this new version
has more subtle shades of colors, more refined uses of type,
and more abstracted symbols than the previous release.

For those who like typographic design elements, AgileBits
licensed a custom version of a readable monospaced typeface,
which it calls Courier Prime Bits. This is used wherever a
password is shown. And when you create secure notes, you can
now use the Markdown text-formatting language to set the
appearance of items.

AgileBits subscription offerings revolve around 1Password.com,
an optional way to sync passwords with centrally hosted vaults
for which the company possesses none of the secrets necessary
to unlock. With an individual, family, team, business, or
enterprise license, you or a set of users can install 1Password
across platforms. With an individual subscription, a license
includes access to iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS apps for
the same set of vaults on an unlimited number of devices. For
multi-seat subscriptions, each user can access their own vaults
across multiple plaforms and have shared vaults, as well as
account recovery capabilities for others.

1password7macos terrible password
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How rude! But this password is truly terrible, as 1Password
notes.

Using 1Password.com lets you access passwords through a web
browser as well as the apps, and AgileBits performs all the
encryption and decryption the browser—it still doesn’t have
access to your keys.

However, even with a subscription there’s no requirement to use
1Password.com for storage. You can store nothing at all there,
and just use local vaults that are synced among your devices.
The latest version of the app retains syncing vaults using
iCloud (just a single vault plus macOS and iOS only), Dropbox,
a local wireless local area network (WLAN) server, or via a
local folder.

1Password.com subscriptions start at $2.99 a month for an
individual license. However, AgileBits also sells a standalone
version of 1Password with version 7, which is $50 at
introduction and $65 at some indeterminate point in the future.

Bottom line

Everyone should use a password manager, because there’s no
safety in re-using passwords across sites and services, nor in
using passwords that are too short and weak to prevent cracking
should the seeming inevitable occur, and the password database
is breached.

1Password continues its gradual improvement in ease of use,
especially with the addition of app-based password matching and
drag and drop entry. Improving its display of potentially
compromised passwords is a great help for users in
consolidating a security review as well.

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