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Using 1Password to Keep Passwords Secure on iOS


Passwords protect almost everything about our digital lives. From online banking to a Netflix account, a password is usually the only thing that stops someone else getting in and playing havoc. 

While a bank account is a little more important than a Netflix queue, the principle is the same: without a strong password the accounts just aren’t secure.

The problem with passwords is that they are not designed to be easy to use for humans. A secure password should be long, complex and unique. While there are some strategies and workarounds, the simple fact is that trying to remember the 50 or more passwords you’re meant to be using is next to impossible; everyone takes shortcuts. 

People use the same, insecure—but easy to remember—passwords for all their accounts. When someone manages to get the Netflix password, they’re also into the bank accounts.

The best solution to this problem is to take all the password management out of your hands by using a password manager. 

I don’t know my Facebook password, my Amazon password or any others. They’re all 20 character strings of random letters, numbers and symbols. It would take me months to memorise them all. I only know the password for my password management app: 1Password.

1Password by Agile Bits is the best password management app avaialble on OS X and iOS. It costs $49.99 for the Mac app and the iOS app is free with a $9.99 in app purchase for Pro features.

We’ve covered the Mac app in detail before so in this tutorial I’ll show you how 1Password keeps passwords secure on an iPhone.

1Password for iOS

Before iOS 8, the 1Password iOS app was good but limited. It didn’t integrate with other apps and you couldn’t use it in Safari. To get the most out of it, you had to use the app’s built in browser. 

Fortunately, with the Extensions Apple added in iOS 8, it’s now possible for 1Password to communicate directly with Safari and other iOS apps. This has dramatically changed how useful it is.

interface ios
The 1Password iOS app.

The basic iOS app is free but to the most out of 1Password you’ll also need to use the OS X app. 

There’s no point generating secure passwords with an iPhone and then having to enter them manually whenever you use a Mac. A good password management strategy is all or nothing.

To get started, download the 1Password iOS app. When you first open it you’ll be required to create a password. This should be something you won’t forget but also be strong. This is the only password you need to remember so it can be more complex than you’d normally select. 

If the iPhone supports it, you’ll also be given the opportunity to use TouchID to log into 1Password. I’d recommend it as this allows you to use an even more complex password because you won’t have to enter it too often.

osx preferences
The Sync preferences on OS X.

If you’re already using the Mac app, you can sync all the stored passwords across. Head to Preferences on the Mac app and select Sync. You can then choose either iCloud or Dropbox as the sync service. I would recommend iCloud.

On the iOS app, go to Settings and select Sync. You’ll need to choose the same sync method as the OS X app. Enter the password of the OS X vault and the two apps will sync.

Once setup, they’ll automatically sync in the background whenever something changes so the passwords will always be up to date.

Using 1Password With Safari

The most useful feature of the 1Password iOS app is that you can access it in mobile Safari.

login with 1password
The Extensions menu.

Whenever you are browsing the Internet and want to log in to a site, tap the Extensions icon and select 1Password. Either scan a fingerprint or enter the password to access the Vault. Select the login you want and 1Password will autofill the information.

login safari ios
Logging in with 1Password.

You can also use 1Password to generate secure logins. Whenever you are signing up for a new site, tap the Extensions icon and select 1Password. Enter the required log in details and then tap Generate New Password

1Password will create a secure password for you to use. 

creating login
Creating a new login with 1Password.

Select Save and 1Password will autofill the login information while also saving it to the Vault so you can access it anytime.

Using 1Password With Other Apps

Safari isn’t the only app that can use 1Password’s stored passwords. Through the same extension interface any other iOS app can add support for 1Password logins. 

Not every app supports this but plenty of major ones do. You can find the full list on Agile Bits’ site. Some of the many apps that have added 1Password logins are:

  • Slack
  • Basecamp
  • Twitter
  • Tweetbot
  • Day One
  • Uber
  • Airmail
  • Trello
  • OneDrive
  • Dropbox
Logging into dropbox
Logging into Dropbox with 1Password.

The process can be slightly different in each app but for most, you tap the 1Password or lock icon, log in to 1Password and then select the relevant account. 1Password does the rest.

Wrapping Up

A strong password is the only way to keep information safe online. It’s too easy for bad passwords to fall into the wrong hands or be bypassed entirely. The only way to ensure you are using long, strong and unique passwords is to use an app like 1Password

A few years ago you might have only had a handful of passwords but now everyone has countless ones all of which should be distinct from the others.

Having secure passwords on one device and insecure ones on another just isn’t enough. Password security needs to be consistent across everything. That’s why a cross-platform solution like 1Password is so important; every login on all of your devices is secure.

If you’re setting up 1Password for the first time, one of the most important steps is to conduct a password security audit. There’s no point saving bad passwords in you 1Password vault. For more information, check out my tutorial on the subject.

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