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1Password + Dropbox = Password Sync

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Welcome to Agile Web Solutions - Mozilla Firefox (Build 2008092414)Dropbox - Log in - Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy. - Mozilla Firefox (Build 2008092414)We always like a good utility here at WWD. But we like it even better when two of our favorite utilities start working well together. That’s the case with 1Password and Dropbox: if you’re storing your passwords (and other confidential information) in 1Password, you can now use Dropbox to keep those passwords synchronized across multiple computers. Here’s how.

The first thing you need to do is install 1Password on all the computers where you want to keep the same passwords. (Yes, this only applies to OS X users at the moment – though it seems that you can at least view the password file contents on a Windows box if you know the master password). Next, you need to step up to the most recent beta version of 1Password: open Preferences, go to the Updates tab, and turn on “Include Beta versions”. Then click the “Check Now” button and upgrade your copy of 1Password to the current beta. Remember to do this on all of the computers where you’re running 1Password.

After installing the update, you need to turn on the new Agile Keychain format in 1Password. Open a command prompt and run the command “defaults write com.1passwd EnableAgileKeychain -bool YES” (without the quotes, of course). Now reopen the 1Password Preferences and go to the Keychain tab. Click the “Switch to Agile Keychain Format” button. 1Password will take all of your existing data out of the Apple Keychain and put it in their own data format.

This is where Dropbox comes in. Click “Change Location” in 1Password preferences and move your new agile keychain into your dropbox (you can also use other sharing utilities like SugarSync or FolderShare – the key is to pick something that does automatic bidirectional synchronization).

Now, move to your other computer. Make sure that 1Password is upgraded to the beta version and that the agile keychain is enabled. Then open your dropbox in Finder and double-click on the synchronized keychain file. Confirm to 1Password that you want to load this file, and voila!: all of the passwords from computer #1 will be available on computer #2. If either one adds a new password, it will synchronize to the other via Dropbox.

There are, as we’ve pointed out before, many options for password management. To my way of thinking, this setup – using a native client-side password manager with encrypted synchronization over the web – is one of the slickest ways to set things up.

14 Responses to “1Password + Dropbox = Password Sync”

  1. Hi,

    Thanx for the great tutorial!

    You write: “double-click on the synchronized keychain file.”

    In my dropbox there is a folder named: 1Password.agilekeychain

    Double-clicking that just opens the folder that contains other folders. If I try to click the actual password files 1password don’t regonize the file. I tried the import function in the 1password menu with no luck.

    Should “1Password.agilekeychain” be a clickable file or a folder?



  2. Hi Mike. Full disclosure here: I work for, which offers small businesses (or nomadic professionals, as we like to call ourselves) an innovative way to share documents and work together on a “virtual fileserver.” I read your post on Dropbox and 1Password and how you use it to synchronize passwords, with great interest.
    I just wanted to add NomaDesk to the mix, because it comes with security features specifically geared towards the digital nomad, such as local encryption and “remote shredding” with TheftGuard. That means that your password file will actually be encrypted on each of your PCs. You only need to remember the NomaDesk password to unlock the virtual fileserver. In the event that one of your PCs gets stolen you can simply shred it remotely.
    Anyway, I would appreciate your review – in due time.


  3. Glad to hear that it works with KeePass. There’s more to it than letting you pick where to store the file: it’s also not keeping the file locked, and re-reading it on every change. I’ve run into several password applications that failed on one or the other of those counts.

  4. This should basically work with all password management apps that allow you to freely choose where to save the password file, right? (The novelty being for 1password that it can now bypass Apple’s keychain).
    I’ll definitely have to try this with SecretBook.

  5. Piethein – No, I’ve been doing this with KeePass and Dropbox for months. It works perfectly. I no longer have to use my USB stick to keep my KeePass file in sync with my home and work machines.