I Switched From 1Password to Keychain — Here's Why

Not only have I switched from 1Password to Keychain, but I’m not looking back

I Switched From 1Password to Keychain — Here's Why
Photo by Jozsef Hocza / Unsplash

1Password was my go-to app for more than a decade. It was the first app installed on every new device and something I recommended to everyone I knew. However, when I buy a new iPhone later this week, I won’t download 1Password. Instead, I’ve switched from 1Password to Keychain.

A few weeks ago, 1Password announced their next version, 1Password 8, and released a public beta. Loving the software, I was interested in new features and functionality. Instead, I stumbled into a world of controversy surrounding the next iteration.

1Password 8 Controversy

1Password 8 uses Electron, an app framework designed for cross-platform support. It’s also a framework that uses significant resources on my machine. Upon installing 1Password 8, the memory usage was more than 400% higher than 1Password 7. Granted, it was a beta installation, but that kind of jump is significant.

The other issue people seemed concerned about is 1Password 8 requiring a subscription. In reality, 1Password has offered a subscription for years. The new version will be the first to require the service. I have no issues with software subscriptions that provide ongoing support to developers. I currently pay for a 1Password subscription, so this wasn’t an issue for me.

Given these two controversies, is Electron really worth leaving 1Password over? Not really. In fact, it’s not the ultimate reason I decided to leave the crucial service I’ve used since its inception. So, why did I choose to leave 1Password? Convenience.

Keychain Is A Convenient Option

I love third-party software that provides enhanced functions over the tools that ship with the operating system. When something new comes out, I’m quick to try it and see if it’s something to adopt into my daily usage. When 1Password was born, I moved to it because it provided many more features than Apple’s built-in Keychain.

With iOS 15 and Monterey, Apple’s latest operating system updates, Keychain adds two-factor authentication support. This was the single largest feature 1Password offered that Keychain did not. Frankly, it’s a game-changer for Apple’s Keychain. But is Apple’s integration better than 1Password? I ventured to find out.

Moving From 1Password To Keychain

A few weeks ago, I installed the iOS 15 beta on my iPad and the Safari Technology Preview on my Mac. Safari Technology Preview is like a beta for the next version of Safari, providing access to future features — in this case, the updated Keychain with 2FA support.

I spent a weekend moving all 350 or so of my passwords from 1Password to Keychain. Granted, it could have taken about three minutes since I didn’t realize 1Password offered an export feature and the new Keychain offers an import. Also, I like doing things the hard way. I went to each website I have credentials for and logged in, saving the password into Keychain and, where necessary, adding the 2FA code. My credit cards also went into Safari’s Keychain.

I also use 1Password to secure important details — insurance numbers, license plates, rewards program account numbers, and other things you can never find when they’re needed. For each of these, I created locked notes in Apple’s Notes app.

Once everything from 1Password moved to Apple’s native apps, I turned off 1Password autofill on both of my devices and started to see how life depending on Keychain worked.

Using Apple’s Keychain Instead Of 1Password

Life with Keychain is much simpler than relying on 1Password. Passwords and logins are automatically on all of my Apple devices; no app is required. While Keychain in iOS 14 and Big Sur do not support 2FA codes, they’re still synced through iCloud. When my non-beta devices update, they’ll be ready to use without any work necessary. That next iPhone I buy this week, it’ll have all my passwords and 2FA codes waiting for me.

Saving passwords into Keychain is also simpler, as Apple automatically recommends generated passwords. Granted, they’re not as complicated as my 25-character 1Password setting, but they still will take 42 quintillion years to crack (that’s 42 1018 years). In other words, this is not something to lose any sleep over.

Over the last few weeks of my testing, there were two instances where I needed to open 1Password. In both instances, I somehow saved the wrong password into Keychain.

There are also a few (maybe five or so) websites I’ve run into that do not prompt Apple’s Keychain to show the saved password prompt. In these cases, I need to open the Passwords and manually copy them. While not ideal, I’m guessing the issue lies with poorly coded websites.

The other issue I’ve run into with Keychain is the most frustrating: Apple doesn’t save credit card CVV security codes in Safari. For the card I regularly use online, I’ve had to memorize the code. I don’t know why Apple doesn’t save these numbers, considering passwords and autofill details are secured with a password and a biometric identifier (FaceID in iOS and Apple Watch or TouchID in macOS). Memorizing the CVV code is not ideal but not a deal-breaker considering all the additional integration and benefits of using Keychain.

Sticking With Keychain

Through my testing, I realized 1Password no longer provides enhanced functionality over Keychain. Sure, having things in one place is better than using Keychain and Notes. Like the CVV codes, however, it’s not a deal-breaker. I don’t use Windows, so 1Password’s cross-platform support is not a necessary feature (plus, iCloud for Windows now supports Keychain). All in all, Keychain just works. It’s simple, it’s integrated, and it doesn’t require any additional resources.

1Password is still a fantastic product, and I hope they continue to do well. However, they no longer offer features I need or can’t get anywhere else. For that reason, I switched from 1Password to Keychain, and I’m not looking back.

This piece was inspired by Mark Ellis’ article, I’m Switching to 1Password — Here’s Why.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!