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Using a password manager is basically internet security 101 these days, but that doesn’t make them any less intimidating. If you’ve never used a password manager, they’re annoying, cumbersome to use, and baffling at a glance. 1Password is one of the easiest to use options around, but that doesn’t mean you don’t some help setting it up.
Password managers create strong passwords that are difficult to crack, they keep track of those passwords so you don’t have to remember them, and they make it easy to change your passwords after a hack. You have a ton of great choices for password managers, but for this guide we’re concentrating on 1Password. With 1Password, you can sync your password across your devices using their cloud service. Dropbox, or iCloud, and it works on every major operating system. Unlike 1Password’s biggest competitor, LastPass, your passwords can also be stored locally instead of in the cloud. Which password manager you use is a matter of preference and depends on what you need; none are perfect, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
Regardless, assuming you’re here because you have 1Password already, let’s go ahead and get started using it.
Decide Which Payment Plan You Want and Create an Account
While 1Password has a trial version you can check out free for 30 days, it is a paid service after that. You can choose between two different payment models, a subscription or a one-time purchase. The one-time purchase is $65 and only works for Mac. You do not get password syncing between devices (like your phone and your desktop computer) with this purchase, though you can manually sync passwords between devices using Dropbox or iCloud.
Otherwise, you have two subscription options: $3/month for yourself, or $5/month for a family plan. The family plan includes up to five people. With a subscription plan, you get syncing using 1Password’s servers. Most people will likely want to go with the subscription plan.
Once you’ve made your choice, head to 1Password’s site and create your account. This takes a few steps, including verifying your email and downloading a special PDF file. That PDF is important for setting up 1Password, so don’t lose it. It includes a QR code you’ll need to add any apps to your 1Password account and your “Secret Key,” which is the only way to recover your 1Password account if you lose your password.
Download and Set Up 1Password for Your Computer, Browser, and Phone
Now that you’ve decided which payment option to use, it’s time to actually install your software. This process is a little different than what you’re probably used to.
- Download 1Password for Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android.
- Sign into your account.
- Click or tap Scan Account Details.
- Scan the Setup QR code in the PDF you downloaded when you created your account. If you don’t have it, you can get it on the 1Password web app.
- Download the 1Password browser extension for your browser. This is how you’ll actually use 1Password most of the time.
You’ll have to go through this process for each app on each operating system. Once it’s all set up, you can actually get to using 1Password.
Start Browsing and Save Your Login Information for Every Site
While you might feel inclined to go out of your way to add different login information to 1Password, the easiest thing to do is just use the internet as you normally do, and save your passwords as you log into each new site. This way, the 1Password browser extensions do the work for you. It’s a pretty simple process:
- When you arrive at a site, log in as you normally would.
- When 1Password prompts you, click Save Login.
That’s it as far as daily usage. Though, it’s worth remembering that one of the main reasons to use a password manager is to create new, strong passwords, so it’s worth thinking about changing your passwords as you go along as well.
Likewise, when you create a new account at any time in the future, you can let 1Password create the password for you by clicking the 1Password icon in your browser, then Password Generator. Once you fill in your new password, 1Password automatically detects and remembers the new password.
Use 1Password to Log Into Sites on Mobile Devices
While you probably don’t create a ton of accounts from your smartphone, you likely log into plenty of them. 1Password makes this pretty easy to do. You have a couple of different ways to do this.
With both Android and iOS, you can always simple copy/paste passwords from the app to your browser of choice. iPhone users can also use an extension to log into a site directly in Safari. When you’re on a log in page in Safari, just tap the share button, then 1Password, then select the login information to use. You may have to manually enable this button first by tapping the share button, then more, then tapping the 1Password toggle.
On Android, you’ll use the 1Password Keyboard to do this. Open 1Password, then tap Settings > Filling. Tap Enable Keyboard. Now, when you’re on a login page in any browser, switch over to the 1Password Keyboard by tapping the keyboard button, then tap the Fill Username and Fill Password buttons to enter in your login information.
Use 1Password to Audit Your Crappy Passwords
1Password includes a security audit feature that’s really worth checking out after you’ve got the bulk of your passwords entered in. The audit can check for duplicate passwords, weak passwords, and even lets you know if any site you have an account at has been breached.
In the 1Password app, click on Security Audit in the sidebar. Here, you’ll find another list. Watchtower is probably the coolest thing here. Click Watchtower, then click the Enable button to turn it on. Watchtower monitors for website vulnerabilities and alerts you if a problem is found. So, for example, if eBay was hacked, Watchtower would let you know that it’s time to change your eBay password. If this happens, you’ll see a red bar pop up on the page. You can click that to get more information about the hack, or just head off and change your password.
The security audit sections includes a few other different lists, including weak passwords, duplicate passwords, and old passwords. Click on any of these and 1Password will show you where to change your password. This is really helpful when you’re first starting out with a password manager, because you probably have a lot of duplicate or weak passwords. While it’s cumbersome at first to go through and fix all of these, it’s worth going through here and adding better passwords where need be. Eventually, once all your passwords are updated, the whole security audit section should be empty.
Add Personal Info for Quick Form Filling
On top of passwords, 1Password can also store a ton of other information. This includes auto form fill information on sites, like credit card numbers or your address, as well as a place to store any other personal information you want to keep handy.
Click on Identities in the sidebar, then click Edit. Here, you can add your address, phone number, birth date, and whatever else. Once you do, 1Password will be able to automatically fill out those details on web forms when you come across them. Likewise, if you click on Credit Cards in the sidebar, you can add in different credit card numbers so you don’t have to type those out every single time you buy something.
You can also use 1Password to store other personal information that you might need at any given point. In the desktop app, click File > New Item to find a dropdown menu for adding in details like your driver’s license number, software licenses, wireless passwords, and more. This is totally optional and doesn’t really help with the security of your passwords, but it is a handy way to keep a lot of your personal information handy.