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Hands-on: New 1Password 4 looks like a worthy update to a great OS X app

Marco Tabini | Oct. 4, 2013
Despite having to contend with a market that's increasingly crowded by competitors, AgileBits' 1Password is still my go-to repository for every last bit of information that I want to keep safe and secure, like my passwords, software licenses, and banking data.

Despite having to contend with a market that's increasingly crowded by competitors, AgileBits' 1Password is still my go-to repository for every last bit of information that I want to keep safe and secure, like my passwords, software licenses, and banking data.

Luckily, the folks behind 1Password aren't slacking off. Now that even Apple is baking password management right into its operating systems, they are responding by releasing a new version of their popular app that includes more goodies than ever.

Better and the same
Let's start with the basics. Despite sporting dozens of new features and having received a new coat of paint, 1Password 4 feels much like its predecessors, which makes the transition very easy to manage for existing users. Considering how often I pull the app up during a typical workday, this seems like a very smart move--particularly when you consider that the app's user interface was very slick to start with.

In addition to its traditional full-size window interface, the app now also includes a convenient "mini" version that sits in your menu and keeps your passwords and other private information ready at hand, without having to launch the full app. As a nice touch, you can even "pin" an item so that it always remains on top of other windows; this allows you to copy and paste multiple pieces of information without having to open the menu item too many times.

A number of other refinements round out the user interface, including support for favorites, the ability to open and maintain multiple vaults, new filtering options, and even a complete set of professionally-designed icons for the kinds of items you are most likely to store in your vault.

Browser integration
Browser support is probably the one area of the app that benefits the most from the latest update. Like before, 1Password comes with extensions for all three major browsers (Safari, Chrome, and Firefox); without fail, their interfaces have been redesigned to make using them significantly easier.

For example, when you come across a Web page that requires authentication, 1Password now opens a dialog box asking you if you want to use a stored password (or if you want to create a new one), whereas the previous version used to slide a new panel right in the browser's chrome.

This may seem like a minor change, but it has the effect of reminding you that 1Password is always at your fingertips. As a result, you'll use the app more often, ending up with a larger database of more secure passwords that you need to type in less often. When I first came across this feature, I thought that I was going to annoyed by it, but, perhaps counterintuitively, it has made my life much easier.

 

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