Keeping all your personal and online passwords handy and safe - that's the promise of the 1Password cross-platform password manager from Agile Web Solutions
1Password doesn't quite meet all of the criteria for anywhere, anytime, any platform access to your password data. However, it's a breeze to use and an especially good choice if you're in a Mac-centric household.
It will also work if you just need to synchronize passwords with a Windows machine at work and an iPhone on the road. It supports the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Palm and Android smartphones. But if you want access from your BlackBerry or from a Linux computer, or if you want a version that runs from a USB key, look elsewhere.
To back up and synchronize your data you'll need to set up an account with storage-as-a-service vendor Dropbox. (You can get up to 2GB of storage for free, which should be plenty for password data).
Dropbox creates a folder on each computer and then synchronizes among them. Configuring 1Password to work with Dropbox is easy: you simply move your 1Password database to your local Dropbox folder.
Technically you can view your password data directly on the Dropbox website using a browser, but it's not an obvious process. You have to go to Dropbox, log into your account, click on the "Files" tab, and click on the 1Password.agilekeychain file, which exposes the 1Password.html file.
Clicking on that brings up the 1Password "Unlock" screen so you can decrypt the file and view your password data. Because you must log into Dropbox first, you can't just create a browser bookmark to go directly to your 1Password data.
The Mac version of 1Password includes a standalone application to manage your data and a browser extension that provides access to your passwords by way of either an embedded "1P" button on the navigation tool bar or controls on a 1Password toolbar.
iPassword can also create strong passwords for you
The toolbar includes a context-sensitive shortcut button that determines what site you're currently visiting and suggests the appropriate account credentials when clicked.
We tested other password managers, including LastPass, Clipperz and RoboForm. On the Mac, iPad and iPhone versions, 1Password has easily the prettiest user interface in the group, and it's simple to use as well.
The versions for the iPhone and iPad include an integrated browser. Both automatically fill in credentials but don't automatically submit them to the site. You can also copy and paste credentials into a Safari window.
One irritation on the iPad: switch away from 1Password by clicking the iPad's Home button and you're logged out (RoboForm performed the same way).
LastPass did preserve our sessions on the iPad until they timed out, regardless of how many times we switched away. The developer says it will support multitasking with Apple's release of iOS 4.2 when it appears in November 2010, so you won't get logged out every time you press the home button.
A Windows version of 1Password, still in beta, provides the same basic functions, although the pop-up user interface for Windows browsers (Firefox or Internet Explorer only) has a different look and feel.
And unlike the Mac version, in Windows you need to use the browser add-on to log into websites. You click the 1P icon to bring up the dialogue box, click the "Go and Fill Login" button, and then pick the site from a list. The pop-up dialog fills in credentials but doesn't automatically submit them unless you have checked the "Auto-Submit Logins" box (it is turned off by default).
Agile Software licenses 1Password by the user rather than the device, but you do need a license for each platform. The license for the Mac version costs $39.95. The Windows version currently costs $19.95 while it's in beta; on release, it will also cost $39.95.
You'll pay £5.99 for the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch – a Pro version for £8.99 lets you install 1Password on all three iOS devices.
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