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Password Management Roundup: 5 Apps to Keep Your Passwords Safe

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passwordappsLet’s say you’re trying to take over the world and bring all governments under your control. You have to keep records of all this stuff on your computer, of course. Now what if your plan is almost foiled because you chose a stupid password like the Egyptian variant of your Greek name? That’s not very smart, is it? You may be the World’s Smartest Man, but you may still want to look into password management software for your Mac to help you choose good, strong passwords and keep them organized.

In my business, I need to keep track of logins for clients as well as for my own use. I keep all my client information in Daylite forms or notes, where it’s linked to all the other information about that client. But what if you just want to keep passwords secure? And what if you want to share those passwords between machines? Or what if you want your password manager to integrate into your web browser? Or keep that info with you on your iPhone (s aapl)? Well then, here are five password management solutions for the Mac that may work for you.


I have been avoiding using a password management app for a long time. I guess I was a little suspicious of them, or reluctant to trust one app with all that info. I bought 1Password last year, and now I’m a total convert. The desktop app integrates directly into Safari and Firefox, as well as other browsers like Camino and apps like NetNewsWire. The plug-ins help you to capture login information as you enter it, or generate strong passwords as you create logins online. You can also quickly fill out logins and other forms with personal information like your address and/or credit card information that you store in 1Password. This integration with Safari and Firefox is what has me sold on 1Password. It’s so easy to use that I don’t notice it and I love that I don’t have to leave the browser to pull up my passwords like I do with the other solutions.


The iPhone app syncs with the desktop over Wi-Fi as long as both devices can see each other on the same network. The iPhone app implements a browser inside the app to enable auto-fill. You can also sync javascript bookmarklets to Safari that will launch in Safari on the iPhone and auto-fill your password on sites in the native browser. While this isn’t as secure as some other choices, it does make it possible to avoid having to switch back and forth between the password app and the Safari browser on your iPhone to type in a username and password manually.

You can sync your password file between multiple Macs by using the Mac OS X Keychain and MobileMe syncing (not recommended) or by using file-based syncing with Agile Keychain format (recommended). Instructions for file-based syncing using a couple of solutions are provided on the Agile Web Solutions web site.

1Password is $39.95 for a single user license or $69.95 for a five-license family pack. The iPhone app is free. There is a Palm OS app available as well.


SplashID has been around a long time and is very well respected in Palm and Windows Mobile circles. The desktop app for the Mac provides password generation and syncing with the SplashID iPhone app. You can create items with custom fields and set the labels as you like. Several types are provided to group and organize items. You can launch web sites from within the app and it will auto-fill the form on the page (at least with Safari). It doesn’t capture login information from the browser like 1Password does.


While I was using it, I found myself missing the Safari and Firefox plugins from 1Password. The variety of items that you can store compares favorably, but I think the interface is a little rough. The iPhone app will sync with the desktop and includes a strong password generator. If you want to sync your info between your Mac and a Windows Mobile, BlackBerry or Symbian device, this is your only choice.

SplashID Desktop can compare entries between two password databases and sync the results to both copies.

The cost for the desktop app is $20. The iPhone app is $9.99. There is a free Lite version of the iPhone app that is limited to 15 entries to try it out.

Password Wallet

Password Wallet works with your desktop and iPhone. The desktop interface is minimal and unobtrusive. Some may like the narrow window used to list items stored in the wallet file. You can also keep multiple wallet files, each with their own master password, if you have need for that feature. Clicking on a URL will open the page in the default browser and hover a window with auto-fill options over the browser. This works great for launching sites from within Password Wallet, but I still resent having to leave the browser to start that process. Seriously, once you’ve tried 1Password’s method on the desktop, there is no going back.


The Password Wallet iPhone app implements its own browser in the app to enable auto-fill. If you want to use Mobile Safari, you’ll have to switch back and forth.

The Password Wallet desktop app is $20 and the iPhone app is currently free.

Wallet 3

Wallet is one of the most polished desktop apps on the Mac. The user interface is very accessible and will look familiar to anyone who has used Address Book on the Mac. It follows the same three-column layout with large “+” buttons at the bottom of the first two columns and an edit button below the third. You can create custom folders in the first column to group entries, but an entry can only belong in one group. You can use the notes to tag entries as the search bar will look in there along with other fields.


The desktop app will auto-fill login forms for your default browser if you launch the page from within Wallet. The iPhone app syncs with the desktop app through MobileMe. If you don’t have a MobileMe account, you are out of luck for Mac-to-Mac syncing. iPhone syncing can still be accomplished over Wi-Fi.

The Wallet desktop app is $20 and the iPhone app is $3.99.


KeePassX is an open-source GPL project that is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. There is no iPhone app and there is no integration with web browsers on the Mac. Still, the databases are compatible between different platforms so KeyPassX is a good solution if you need to copy your password database around for access from different systems. It’s also free, which could be a huge plus for some.


1Password is for Me

1Password is definitely the best solution for my needs. It lets me capture login information in the browser itself, I don’t have to leave the browser to use auto-fill, and I can use it for web forms that need other information like my home address or credit card (I’m still not using the credit-card section; old habits, I guess). The iPhone app will do auto-fill with an embedded browser or the native Safari browser with the javascript bookmarklet (less secure but more convenient). If you need BlackBerry or Windows Mobile support, check out SplashID. Wallet works great if you have MobileMe and KeePassX is perfect for those that want to keep their password database in sync across platforms.

If you’ve been holding out for something like RoboForm on Windows, 1Password is as close as it gets — at least until RoboForm finally fills this Senior Mac Developer position they’ve had open for a while now.

For the next versions of these products, I would love to see a tagging feature so I can keep a taxonomy of tags for entries rather than just free-form notes. I would also like to to see a system where an entry can belong to multiple groups so I could file an entry under both a client name, a project, and a service provider, though tagging would accomplish the same thing.

What password management app do you use?

33 Responses to “Password Management Roundup: 5 Apps to Keep Your Passwords Safe”

  1. I used 1Password exclusively until they screwed it up with version 3.0.

    The interface is now very cumbersome, with too much time spent making 3-D buttons and HUGE subwindows and lots of dead space everywhere. Cannot be made small enough; the splash-screen takes up your whole monitor.

    Also, at the moment at least, it no longer syncs reliably with MobileMe, and feels very un-Mac like.

    Too bad. It was a great app.

  2. Hey, Nice list you’ve got there! I would recommend Billeo . I’ve been using this handy toolbar to manage my passwords. Also has some cool features that help pay bills, auto fill forms and shop online. Works for me.

  3. KeePassX – This is the way to go if you have windows and linux machines as well. Wish there was an iPhone version though..

    FYI : I used WebConfidential for several years. However, it’s slow and hasn’t been updated in a long time. It’s Mac only as well; so, I had to move on.

  4. Ferdinand

    I used Keepass on a Windows PC, but since I am working now on different PCs (Windows, OSX) I switched to an IMHO perfect online solution:

    Passpack has a very well designed interface, is very secure (two passwords needed to open it) and it can be used offline as well. And it’s free.

  5. 1Password… Nuff said.

    Fact I can sync it between my iPhone and the desktop version means all my Passwords go with me wherever I am.

    And its easy to use no messing around all within the browser.

  6. Another one to consider is It uses images that are easier to recall rather than burdening the user with words. Its free and also fills out forms for you automatically.

  7. I use 1Password exclusively. One thing i miss though is a Sync to a Windows App, so i could have cross-platform syncing. One thing i would like to add is the very frequent updates and very engaged developers.
    Just have a look at their forum.

  8. I actually love the RoboForm software myself. I use it all of the time and it takes all of the menial everyday tasks that I have to perform on my computer daily and shortens them extremely! What once took me fifteen minutes to complete now takes me only one second because RoboForm does the same task with just one click. In fact I wrote a Report about a lot of RoboForm’s capabilities for use that aren’t even touched on in the User’s Manual for RoboForm. You can get that Report here:

    There is also a FREE version of RoboForm that you can download on this web page, just to test the RoboForm software out for yourself! I highly recommend it!

  9. 1Password does it all including filling forms (not just passwords). Great integration and synchronization with iPhone. For cross-platform syncing I use foxmarks with Firefox.

  10. Before I was a mac-convert I used KeyPass on windows, windows mobile and linux. Now its 1Password all the way on my Macs and iPhone for is sleek integration with everything. Couldn’t be easier or more convenient.

  11. What about SecretBox from It’s an application based on the source code of SecretBook that have been on the market for a while already.

  12. I’m using KeePassX. Recently I won on MacHeist a serial for AllSecure. I like KeePass because I’ve got Linux and Windows machines too and I prefer portability between systems as well it offers a very good security.

  13. I use Keepass and like it. It has the ability to “tag” although it is just a notes section but I have found the search engine it employs to be incredibly good. I have somewhere around 500 passwords in it and I find the password I am looking for in less than 5 sec everytime. D
    If you use it in conjuction with another free tool called Dropbox you can sync your keepass database across multiple computers if you put the database in the Dropbox folder.

    Also keepass can boot from an external drive like a USB key.

    If I had the money I would probably buy 1password because of the extra usability but I like free and am not sure if 1password will sync across multiple computers like Keepass does.

  14. Same here, 1Password is for me too, I’ve tried Wallet, it’s sleek but not as feature full or as convenient as 1Password. To think of it I don’t think I can ever live without it.

  15. I use 1Password and like the fact it will only passy, say, your eBay credentials to the correct eBay website.

    However, I am thinking whether using a separate Keychain with its own password and Safari’s autofill would be a secure alternative to 1Password.