Using Apple’s iCloud Passwords Outside Safari

Originally published at: Using Apple’s iCloud Passwords Outside Safari - TidBITS

Password managers like 1Password have long provided a deep set of features for creating, storing, and entering passwords and other confidential information. The iCloud Passwords extension for Chromium browsers makes Apple’s built-in password management features available outside Safari, but how do they compare to independent password managers?


Since I use Safari 99% of the time and have simple needs for a password manager, keychain works very well for me. I also don’t use any non-Apple platforms or Chromium browsers.

My objection to 1Password is based on two principles I try to adhere to: I really don’t like subscription apps and like even less electron based apps, which I consider to be poor Mac citizens. Even though I have 36 GB of RAM on my M3 Pro, it irks me to use a lazily created app which uses electron and, to add insult to injury, needs a subscription fee (even if it is not large).

So far, these principles have not inhibited me in any way in my choice of apps I run on my Mac.


Thank you for yet another thoughtful and informative article.

Don’t beat around the bush, tell me what you really think.

While I agree with you, I would emphasize that what makes “using + and ••• to label menus” a capital crime is to have no hint appear when one hovers over the cryptic symbol.

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  • Supports only logins, unlike other password managers, which can store many other types of private information, such as identity cards, medical record cards, bank accounts, API credentials, secure notes, and even documents.

The Keychain app has for years supported secure notes which offers a safe haven for that kind of information. However, it is true that it unfortunately does not sync to an iOS front-end even when users have iCloud Keychain turned on. So that makes it Mac-only which limits its usefulness I guess.

Of course Notes also offers secure notes and they can hold all kinds of information (including images, PDFs, etc.) and they sync very nicely across iCloud to other devices you have connected to your Apple ID.

I have yet to encounter a true need for a 3rd-party password manager. But then again, I do use Safari as my primary browser and I do not need any of my data to sync to a Windows box. With iCloud Keychain and secure notes I am all set. Especially now that I don’t even need a dedicated app for MFA anymore because iCloud Keychain has even that part covered these days. :+1: :slight_smile:


For me the greatest limitation of Apple’s inbuilt password manager / keychain is that it is secured by your Mac password. This means that if you take your Mac in for repairs and the technician needs your computer password, they can access all your Keychain passwords as well. In many cases this can be prevented by setting up a separate administrator account, but most home users don’t know to do this and technicians rarely encourage it.


My customers with password managers have bigger issues with passwords than my customers just using keychain-password settings. I juse keychain because I would rather change a password than somehow “find” one and reuse. (this happens more often than expected) - How secure is Chrome/Firefox/etc password management ? You only know of security of these things in past tense. None of these managers resolve the bigger problem - when stuff is breached or a password is ‘uncoordinated’ - there is no AI crawler to remove breachs or faulted passwords. My wife’s online stock manager password system routinely locks you out forever if three attempts fail and then you have to contact a PERSON who then generates a new password request via snailmail. I have their system fail on my (with the correct password-so i imagine an acceptance glitch on their end creates this havoc) The availability of Password in a browser is inherently a security issue in itself. (small bias: don’t entirely feel anything from Alphabet is 'reliable" as to security - my old edict “The Google giveth - the Google taketh away” still stands.) I do trust Apple’s “values system” though.

I use to use 1 Password Application but switched to Enpass and have had no real problems with it on my Mac Studio running Sonoma. I have used it for over two years now and am wondering why you haven’t mentioned it yet? I also use it on my iPhone and Love the fact that is keeps everything updated on both my desk top computer and my iPhone. Is there some potential problem with this software that I am not aware of?

Respectfully yours
Timothy Freitas

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Thanks - this is a great introduction to something I didn’t realize was built into Ventura; I had been using Keychain and the Password Manager built into Firefox. Since I find it loaded with the contents of Keychain, I now have a nicer interface to work with. I wish it worked with Firefox.

I did find one thing I consider a problem. All the passwords I checked were listed as last modified 11/28/21, which presumably was the date the password file was created. That unfortunately wiped out the earlier dates when the passwords were created, so I have lost any indication of how old the passwords were created. I often find I need that to pick out passwords that are obsolete because the web site has been redesigned and no longer uses that page.

Purely because I have no experience with Enpass and it doesn’t come up in discussions here as a common choice for password managers. I’ve never heard anything particularly bad about it, though.

As you can see, there are a LOT of options.

Have you tried the iCloud Passwords add-on I mention briefly in the article?

Thanks for your input.
BTW I have always respected TidBITS and trusted their reviews and advice.

Respectfully Yours
Timothy Freitas

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I’m still on Ventura, and you said the add-on required Sonora. The last I have heard, Mail still has problems in Sonora, and I don’t want to risk Mail problems.

Ah, sorry, missed that fact. I suspect the iCloud Passwords extension and add-on leverage some new API in Sonoma, but I don’t know for sure.

Hey Adam, Thanks for the article.

My opinion: Apple is providing too little (or too much), too late.

Like you, I am perfectly happy with my 1Password app. Also, while you mention the Apple iClouds Passwords is “free”, this means no financial purchase is necessary. But the feature is not free, in terms of the effort of moving one’s entire set of passwords over to the Apple feature, which apparently would include a learning curve, as well.

Wishing you clear skies on 08 Apr 2024.

I stopped using Apples password manager and went to a app called Strong Password. It has what I need, but eventually passcodes with take over as they have on Gmail

Hey Adam – In the Password Options paragraph, you wrote: “… I’m intrigued by the “Use passwords and passkeys from” section. iCloud Keychain is the only option here … Perhaps Apple will open up macOS to others in the future.”

Well Sonoma actually does have this:

I use Strongbox (by Phoebe Code Ltd.) on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. The option shown in the screenshot allows me to use Strongbox to autofill on Safari. Plus Strongbox has extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

I believe you still have to have iCloud Keychain enabled as well (and Apple makes it a little clunky when adding new entries from a website). But the overall UX with Strongbox is quite nice.


Yup, essentially going to say this. Strongbox already has an extension, but it’s nice to have options. I don’t like Apple’s extension very much because it’s invasive (turns off Chrome’s autofill until you configure it otherwise, constant prompt for the verification code from the system) but otherwise it’s serviceable enough. Naturally the Safari experience is a great deal more luscious.

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Interesting! I wonder what other password managers do this—1Password does not. Perhaps it’s a way that apps that haven’t already put effort into autofill can take advantage of Apple’s built-in code.

I think I’ve tried out several that supported it. I know KeePassium does because I just checked for other apps showing up there on my computer.

For those of you who are using Apple’s password manager and are looking for an easier way to access the password database without digging through Settings, here is a link to a video that shows how to make a password app using Shortcuts and put it right in your Dock.
Password app for iPhone and Mac



I live in password hell as competing programs across devices snatch (autostore) and try to competitively Auto-fill in ways I cannot track.
Often get locked out as a consequence.
“Conflicts” between Windows, Edge, Firefox, 1Password, MacOs/Safari make changes and legacy password management a constant burden.

Note: there are 16+ “What’s my F___ing Password?!” log books for writing them down on Amazon alone.

Complexity without utility,
and the burden to elderly and impaired users “forced to go digital” is pernicious.