Do you have passwords or credit card information stored on Stickies in Mac OS X? Me, too. Well, I did.
Stickies are handy though anything but safe. Once you get too much info and the sticky grows, it’s not even handy anymore. Is there a better solution?
Enter the word “Passwords” into MacUpdate’s search field and you’ll have a page load of Mac applications that handle passwords securely on your Mac.
Which ones are good? Which are not? What criteria should you use for selecting a quality application to handle passwords? Should it also handle credit card information?
For web site passwords, I use Mac OS X’s built-in Keychain and Safari. That works well, is reasonably secure since a special password is required to get info.
It’s priced right. It’s handy. There’s even a secure notes section where you could store other information, like credit card numbers.
Not good enough. Should someone ever get into my Mac, locally or remotely, the first place they’ll head is Keychain. What to do?
Last spring I started looking at, and trying, various password storage utilities. Whew. What a process. I could NOT find one that fit my needs, and my needs kept changing as I found and tried new applications.
My needs for security seemed to boil down to about three major areas.
Passwords and LoginIDs for various web sites. I have a few dozen. Some are servers and web pages, some are logins for content, some are something else. Keychain does well for the web pages, but not all sites; same with the auto-fill in function.
Credit Card Information. For online purchases, I use only two credit cards. For years I had the card numbers on a Sticky, and after hearing a few horror stories, dispensed with the practice. Still, there’s a need for balance between security and handy usefulness.
Serial Numbers for Mac applications. I have many, many OS X applications, some from years ago. Apple. Adobe. Macromedia. Microsoft. And dozens of Mac utilities which require serial numbers.
See the picture? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a central application that handles all three of those major areas of need?
Look at the list of password applications on MacUpdate and prepare to be depressed. There’s a few dozen.
The good news is that most of them are not what you need. The bad news is trying to figure out which ones. The good news is that I’ve narrowed my list down. The bad news is that I haven’t decided on a single app that does all three. Yet.
Some of the applications haven’t been updated in six or eight months or a year or so. Discard those from the search. A developer MUST update the password application every couple of months, if anything, just to let the customer know you’re still around.
After all, who wants to load up an application with serial numbers, passwords, web site lists, and credit card information, only to have the developer graduate from college and move on to a paying job?
The application should be regularly updated and from a developer with some sense of long term responsibility.
Right now, I’m looking at a handful of applications, though only one seems to cover most of my major criteria requirements.
Password Retriever from Koingo. This is a mature application from a developer who’s been around for years, Koingo. They have other applications, too, so they appear to be a good commercial operation. PR is loaded with features and nominally priced at about $20.
I like PR because it does import and export, has unlimited records, categories, fields, and works both on Mac and Windows using the same database. The user interface is a bit confusing, but that could be a learning curve issue.
Password Wallet from Selznick Scientific. For $2 less, PW is similar, comes from a well known developer, and is mature. There’s also Palm synchronization. Again, I found the interface to be a bit clunky, but PW works, though doesn’t cover all my criteria.
iSafe. You’ll like iSafe because of the simplicity and price. Free. I worry about a free product that contains such sensitive information, though. It’s important to have regular updates and improvements. No one needs to have data secured in an application that dies on the vine.
But iSafe is decent, handles credit card info, bank data, serial numbers, and web site LoginIDs and passwords in a single brushed aluminum application that takes no time to master.
Wallet 2.0 from Waterfall Software. This one surprised me and is worth a try. I used it quite awhile. Wallet holds all the above, though the interface is more intuitive and straightforward.
On the left of Wallet’s screen, are the types of content; web sites, passwords and loginIDs, serial numbers, and credit card info, the list of each in a center frame, and detail in a right frame. Simple.
Wallet is the only application which stores LoginIDs and passwords and will auto login to sites that even Safari and Keychain don’t work.
Wallet is a bit quirky, though. You can’t tab from field to field when entering data. My iPods keep showing up in the left column. Little things like that keep me from saying, “Yes, this is it.” At $14.95, it’s not a bad price.
For the moment, I’m torn between Steel, which is highly functional, and Secret Book, which, well, it works and it’s nice looking (except for the icons). Steel hasn’t been updated in awhile, and that bothers me. Secret Book’s import function fails when trying to import files from Steel. Go figure.
All these applications are worth a view. There are others, though none of them impressed me enough to comment or use extensively. As usual, your mileage may vary.
Note to developers: for applications that hold sensitive and valuable info, please update frequently, even with minor bug fixes or minor cosmetic changes. It shows us you’re still out there.
For now, I’m using Wallet, Steel, and Secret Book, and trying out BareBone’s Yojimbo as it does more than just store notes. You’d think I had a personality disorder. Click Here for Wallet. Click Here for Password Retriever. Click Here for iSafe.
Are you using Stickies to store login IDs and passwords and serial numbers? What’s your favorite utility to hold such important info? Share in the Comments section below.