Every Mac includes a password manager service built into Mac by the name of Keychain Access. This is an app that stores your password and account information. It helps you to reduce the number of passwords that you have to remember when using Apple’s default web browser, Safari.
Since it is part of the operating system, the only thing Mac owners need to do is use the computer so long as autofill is enabled – which it is by default. If the user has multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets or other Macs then the system will enable iCloud Keychain, Apple’s cloud-based password management service. The problem with this is that iCloud Keychain only works within the Apple ecosystem. So users with an Android phone or a non-Safari browser won’t benefit from this cross-platform service.
What Is the Best Password Manger for Mac?
Writing down passwords on a slip of paper or in a text file is not a secure way to store them and never will be. You need a sturdy password management app for the job. For now, let’s focus on the best password manager for Mac users.
Thankfully, all the options on our list have a suitable iOS counterpart, so you can easily access your passwords on the go.
Be it Safari, Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox, LastPass has all your passwords covered across any of your favorite browsers. What makes this password manager unique for you Mac is its focus on web browsers, since it is entirely web-based. After signing up for the service, it will always be there in your default web browser. And it even translate itself to the default language, which is quite convenient if you aren’t a native English speaker.
While it doesn’t have a dedicated macOS app, it does still travel everywhere with the user thanks to the iOS and watchOS apps. The passwords, sites, insurance cards, Wi-Fi passwords, or whatever it may be are well organized, providing easy access to them whenever they are needed.
LastPass has three price tiers: the basic package for one user is available for free, and it includes a free 30-day trial of the Premium package, which costs $2 per month for one user. For up to six users, LastPass recommends the Family package for $4 per month, with all plans being billed annually.
2. Safari’s Password Manager
The first option that most Apple users will see is the Password Manager built right into Safari. While I don’t think this password manager is nearly as robust as some of the third party alternatives, it’s brought a lot of good to iOS and Mac users.
When you go to create an account on a website, Safari (iOS or macOS) will suggest a very strong password and then offer to remember it. It will then sync that information over iCloud Keychain to all your other devices. This feature helps keep users from reusing the same password over and over again.
If simple password creation is all you need, then Safari’s password manager might be enough. It checks most of the boxes: it syncs to all your devices, it works on iOS and macOS, and is built right into Safari. So it’s free.
My main concern is that the overall user experience isn’t near as good as some of the alternatives. The only way to access your passwords is by going to Safari >> Preferences >> Passwords. One thing Safari also lacks is 2-factor authentication support. All of the third-party apps I reviewed offer the ability to generate one-time use passwords right inside the app. This means that you don’t need to use an app like Google Authenticator to generate the temporary passwords.
3. iCloud Keychain
Keychain Access is Apple’s free password management app built into macOS. It’s best used in combination with iCloud sync, which you can set up under System Preferences >> iCloud.
This setup (iCloud Keychain) lets you store website logins, Wi-Fi passwords, credit card information, and so on. Your data stays accessible across all your Apple devices. iCloud Keychain integrates with Safari and ensures that filling of usernames, passwords, and other data is smooth and automatic.
If you haven’t used a password manager before or if you have only Apple devices, iCloud Keychain is the simplest and most obvious solution to choose for your Mac.
iCloud Keychain password manager feels restrictive if you switch between Windows and Mac, or if you don’t use Safari. And in that case, you might want to pick one of the full-featured options we’ll cover next.
Dashlane, with its attractive free tier, proves perfect for many users. The basic plan supports 50 passwords, one device, and password sharing for up to five accounts.
The app has a unique free feature called Password Changer. This lets you update old passwords on many of your favorite websites automatically. With a premium subscription to Dashlane, you get unlimited passwords, secure storage for files, and even a VPN option. What’s more, you can then use Dashlane on any number of devices.
If you’re okay with recurring payments, you might also want to consider 1Password, the next option on our list. It’s cheaper than Dashlane for a comparable set of features.
Let’s get an important point out of the way first: 1Password comes with subscription pricing. If you don’t want recurring expenses no matter how good the app is, you can move on to the next option on our list.
Polarizing pricing models aside, 1Password is the best there is. Name the feature you want in your password management app and 1Password probably has it. It’s versatile enough to be perfect for individuals, families, and businesses alike.
Here are a few of 1Password’s features that might interest you:
- Unlimited passwords and devices
- Multiple password vaults
- Automatic detection of weak and duplicate passwords
- Security alerts in the event of data breaches on sites you use
- A dedicated mode to protect device data when you travel
- Password sharing (only if you sign up for the 1Password Families plan)
You can try 1Password for free for 30 days, and there’s no reason not to. It’s available on macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, and Chrome OS.
Secrets is the 1Password alternative to spring for if you hate app subscriptions. You can import passwords into Secrets from 1Password and similar apps or from a CSV file.
You’ll love that you can generate one-time passwords for services with two-factor authentication enabled from the Secrets app itself.
Like Dashlane and 1Password, Secrets has:
- An audit feature for weak/expired passwords.
- An alerts feature to highlight vulnerable passwords after a data breach.
The free version of Secrets is a disappointment, because it limits you to just 10 items. But that’s more than enough to give you a feel for the app and help you decide whether it’s worth the $20 upgrade for unlimited items. The companion app upgrade on iOS will cost you another $10. Overall, Secrets is clean, polished, and a pleasure to use.
If you want an open source cross-platform password manager or just want to ensure that your data gets stored locally, KeePassXC might work for you. This password manager stores your passwords and other sensitive information in an encrypted database file on your Mac.
The app’s interface looks a little dated. But if you can look past that, you’ll find that KeePassXC is a nice and efficient solution for managing your passwords on macOS. It has dedicated extensions for Google Chrome, Firefox, Vivaldi, and Chromium. It doesn’t have an extension for Opera, but it’s easy to get one since you can install Chrome extensions in Opera.
To access your KeePassXC passwords on your iOS devices as well, take a look at MiniKeePass, which is one of our favorite iPhone password managers.
MiniKeePass app supports the KDBX file format, which is the database format your KeePassXC passwords get saved in. If you move the database file to the cloud, you can keep your passwords in sync across your macOS and iOS devices.
Want More Choices?
While we have narrowed down our main list of the best Mac password manager apps for your Mac, quite a few other good ones are available online. Of course, which of them appeal to you depends on what you’re looking for. Take a look at these choices too:
- Enpass: Unlimited items for free, with a portable version available
- Sticky Password: Free plan available; premium plan supports Wi-Fi sync across devices on the same network
- RoboForm: A low-key, trusted solution that has been around forever
- Keeper: Best known for its Family bundle that makes digital data sharing easy
- Bitwarden: A KeePassXC alternative, if you’re looking for an open source app
Password Managers vs Keychain
Apple’s own solution for password management is Keychain Access for the Mac. It adds cross-device syncing with the introduction of iCloud Keychain, making it highly convenient for the user to generate and/or save one password on an iOS device and have it automatically recalled on a Mac when needed.
The feature only works with Apple’s native web browser, Safari. So if you prefer Firefox or Google Chrome then you are out of luck. Apple also has a native app for storing notes, and if the user encrypts the SSD or HDD of the Mac using FileVault, then he or she will have full protection of their data.
Having access to all that data, however, is not possible, because the user still needs to launch the Safari app to view the passwords and saved credit card data, or the Notes app to view the stored notes. Password manager apps, by comparison, store all the data in one place – passwords, secure notes, credit card details, or whatever – all kept in the cloud, encrypted and accessible to the user as soon as he or she types in the master password.
In addition, password manager services are usually available on all major platforms, whether desktop or mobile. So users won’t be locked into the Apple ecosystem and can take advantage of other platforms that they might use.
The best password manager for your Mac i the one you get around to using. You know how important it is to create a strong password that you won’t forget. But do you really want to take on the burden of generating and then remembering a long list of unique passwords? It’s best to outsource both tasks to a password manager app. That’s what they’re built for, after all!