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Review: 1Password 5 for Mac offers state-of-the-art protection for your passwords and more

Marco Tabini | Nov. 5, 2014
The latest release of AgileBits' password manager is as good as ever—and a perfect companion for OS X Yosemite.

If you're a frequent reader, the topic of "good" passwords is unlikely to be new to you. My colleagues and I never seem to tire of recommending the use of a password manager to help you keep tabs on your digital secret handshakes--alongside other bits of private data like credit card numbers--and avoid falling into bad practices that can have dire consequences on everything from your job to your finances.

Luckily, Apple's software ecosystem suffers from no shortage of apps dedicated to this very goal; among these, AgileBits' 1Password (Mac App Store link) has always occupied a genre-defining role as one of the most comprehensive solutions available. Their latest release, 1Password 5.0, is no exception.

In with the new
One of the hardest feats to pull off in software development is designing a user experience that feels familiar and yet conforms to new paradigms: On one hand, you don't want the app to look dated or out of place in its intended running environment; on the other, you don't want to introduce changes so drastic that existing users will suddenly find themselves disoriented and incapable of performing tasks that were hitherto second nature to them.

Launched to coincide with the release of OS X Yosemite, 1Password 5.0 aces this particular problem by limiting its user interface changes to a fresh coat of paint that looks perfectly at home inside Apple's latest operating system. With the exception of a little more flatness, therefore, you can literally install the new version over the old one and continue using it without skipping a beat.

The 1Password Mini helper app (which sits in the menu bar and provides a quick way to grab a password or credit card number without having to launch 1Password), has received more significant interface changes. In its latest incarnation, the helper sports both dark and light interfaces to match Yosemite's menu bar, and can be quickly invoked with a global keyboard shortcut that makes it appear in the middle of your primary screen. Again, no paradigm-shifting changes, but a few nice touches that, as a frequent user of this feature, I've found very useful.

But also in with the old
Outside of these cosmetic changes, most of the functionality provided by 1Password remains unchanged--not a bad thing if you consider that the established user interface works very well. Of note, the iCloud sync functionality has been rewritten from scratch using the new CloudKit framework, which will hopefully bring increased stability to those who choose to store their 1Password vault using Apple's cloud storage solution.

One feature that I think will get more use is the ability to securely share passwords and other bits of private data. This has existed inside 1Password since at least version 3, but was rarely used by regular users, if only because online privacy and security issues affected just an unlucky few.

 

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