Take Control of 1Password (1.2.1) (2014)

Chapter 8. Customize 1Password

Throughout this book I’ve mentioned a variety of preferences that you can change to modify 1Password’s behavior. In this brief chapter, I want to mention a few preferences I didn’t cover elsewhere and provide more detail about some that I did. (I don’t cover every single 1Password preference—only the ones you’re most likely to need. If there’s a preference you’re curious about that I don’t discuss, consult the 1Password Help menu or support Web site.)

I also talk briefly about other utilities, such as launchers and clipboard managers, that you can use in conjunction with 1Password.

Set Security Preferences

To set 1Password’s security preferences, open the main app and go to 1Password > Preferences (Mac) or File > Preferences (PC), and then click Security.

Master Password

To change the master password that protects all your 1Password data, click Change Master Password. Enter your current password (on a Mac only), enter and verify a new password, and (on a Mac only) enter a hint. Then click Change Password (Mac) or OK (PC).

As of version 4.3 for Mac and 4.5 for iOS, changing your master password on one device changes it on your other devices too, once your data has synced among them.

Display (Mac Only)

In the Mac version of 1Password only, the Display category has a single option: Conceal Passwords (selected by default). With this checkbox selected, your passwords will normally be represented by bullets (•) in both the main 1Password app and 1Password mini. You can show the passwords by holding down the Option key. To display passwords all the time in both environments—an unwise idea if someone might be able to look over your shoulder while you’re using 1Password—deselect this checkbox.

Tip: You can also toggle concealing passwords by choosing View > Conceal Passwords in the main 1Password app.


I introduced the Auto-Lock preferences earlier, in Lock Automatically, and you may have selected some default options when you first ran 1Password. Here are the things you can change now (the order and wording differ by platform):

·        Lock on Sleep (Mac)/Lock When Your Computer Is Locked (PC): This self-explanatory option should remain selected for most people.

·        Lock When the Screen Saver Is Activated: Wait, there are people who still use screen savers? You know that LCD screens don’t need saving, right? Well, if you use a screen saver as a security measure (so other people don’t see what’s on your screen when you’re not there), it may be wise to select this option. If you don’t use a screen saver, then it doesn’t matter one way or the other!

·        Lock When Main Window Is Closed (Mac only): Although you can manually lock 1Password at any time, even with the window open (see Lock & Unlock 1Password), some people don’t want to expend any extra effort and feel safer knowing that if the app window is closed, the data is protected immediately. If you’re such a person, select this option.

·        Lock When Fast User Switching (Mac only): This option, enabled by default, ensures that 1Password locks when you switch to a different user account without logging out first. Deselect this if you want to leave 1Password unlocked when you use Fast User Switching.

·        Lock after Computer Is Idle for __ Minutes (Mac)/Lock after __ Minutes of Inactivity (PC): The default setting here is 5 minutes, but you can enter a longer or shorter time, or deselect this option altogether. In general, I think it’s wise to leave this turned on if there’s any chance someone else might be able to use your computer (including thieves), although depending on how you use your computer, locking after only 5 minutes may force you to type your master password more often than you like. (Keep in mind that “inactivity” refers to a period of time during which you don’t use the keyboard or mouse at all—such as when you’re watching a movie—not merely “time since I last did something in 1Password.”)


When you copy a password to your Clipboard from 1Password (whether from the main app, 1Password mini, or the Windows Web browser extensions), you run the (usually minuscule) risk that later, before you’ve copied something else to your Clipboard, someone could come along and see your most recent password just by pasting. The risk is greater if you use a clipboard utility (see Clipboard Managers) that archives everything you copy, because merely overwriting your Clipboard’s contents won’t cover your tracks.

Your options for managing 1Password’s interaction with your Clipboard are:

·        Clear Clipboard Contents after __ Seconds (Mac)/Clear Values Copied to the Clipboard after __ Seconds (PC): By default, 1Password clears whatever you copy to the Clipboard from within 1Password 90 seconds later—enough time to paste it somewhere, but probably too little time for someone else to snag it. To change this delay, fill in a different number here; to prevent 1Password from clearing your Clipboard at all, deselect this box. For most people, the default 90-second delay is more than adequate.

·        Clear the Clipboard on Exit (PC only): Clear the Clipboard immediately when you exit 1Password, even if it’s been less than the delay specified in the previous preference. If you use a reasonably short time delay, this setting is probably unnecessary.

·        Clear the Clipboard on Minimize (PC only): Clear the Clipboard when you minimize 1Password. As with the previous preference, this is likely unnecessary if you use a time delay.

·        Minimize 1Password upon Copy to Clipboard (Ctrl+C) (PC only): This odd setting doesn’t affect your Clipboard, but rather it minimizes the 1Password window when you copy something from it. This could be handy on small displays (to get 1Password out of your way), but if you’re going back and forth between 1Password and other apps frequently, it may drive you to distraction.

Configure Other Mac Preferences

Before wrapping up this chapter, I want to call your attention to a handful of other preferences for the Mac version of 1Password that you may find especially useful. As usual, go to 1Password > Preferences, and then click one of the following:


·        Always Keep 1Password mini Running: Normally, you’ll want this checkbox to be selected so that 1Password mini will be available in your browsers and everywhere else in your system, even when the main 1Password app isn’t open. Leaving this deselected will severely limit 1Password’s capabilities, but if you have some important reason not to run 1Password mini, you can.

·        Keyboard shortcuts: To change the keyboard shortcuts to Lock 1Password, Show 1Password mini, or Fill Login on Current Web Page, click in the corresponding field and press the key combination you want to use.

·        Show Item Count in Sidebar: To display a number next to each sidebar entry (such as Logins, Smart Folders, and Tags) indicating how many items are in that category, select this checkbox.

Tip: You can also toggle the sidebar’s item count by choosing View > Show Item Counts in the main 1Password app.


·        Animate Form Filling: Just for fun, 1Password briefly enlarges each Web field as it fills in your credentials and contact data. If you dislike the effect, deselect this checkbox to turn it off.


·        Numbers and Symbols Are Sorted First: 1Password 4 normally sorts items from A–Z, and items starting with a number (such as 1Password!) or a symbol come later. Nearly everywhere else in OS X, numbers and symbols sort first in lists (a notable exception being the Contacts app). Apparently 1Password for Mac defaults to A–Z before numbers and symbols because the iOS version of 1Password does, which in turn is because the iOS Contacts app does.

But I say two wrongs don’t make a right (although 2Wrongs should definitely be sorted before aRight). Restore order in the universe (and in 1Password’s lists) by selecting this checkbox.

·        Verify Browser Code Signature: This option, selected by default, prevents 1Password’s browser extensions from being used in browsers without code signatures that verify their integrity. If you want to install extensions in browsers without code signatures (such as Chromium), you can uncheck this—but be aware that doing so could potentially reduce your security by providing an avenue for malicious software to intercept your data.

Use 1Password with Other Utilities

1Password can interact with several popular Mac utilities, and I’d like to mention a few here which may be of interest to a number of readers. (Windows users, sorry, nothing for you to see here—move along to the next heading.)

Launcher Utilities

Third-party launcher utilities such as LaunchBarAlfred, and Quicksilver let you open files, applications, contact records, iTunes tracks, and other items on a Mac by pressing a keyboard shortcut (such as Command-Spacebar) and then typing a few letters of the item’s name. All these tools can also open 1Password items—for example, if you’ve stored a login item for iCloud, you might press Command-Spacebar to activate LaunchBar, type icl, and your 1Password login for iCloud should appear in the list. Select that list item and press Return to open the iCloud site and log in.

The details of how launchers work with 1Password depend on the app and on your preferences. However, they all require 1Password to export item names in an unencrypted form that the utilities can search. To enable this, go to 1Password > Preferences > Advanced, and select Enable Integration with 3rd Party Apps checkbox.

Note: At present, if you have more than one vault (see Work with Multiple Vaults), launcher utilities can access only the items in your primary vault.

Text-expansion Utilities

Apps like TextExpanderTypeIt4Me, and Typinator automatically expand short abbreviations as you type, replacing them with longer words or phrases—or even graphics or variables. These apps can’t directly access your 1Password data, which would be handy in some situations—for example, I’d love to be able to type a TextExpander shortcut in Terminal that would automagically enter one of my 1Password passwords in order to log in to an SSH server. But for security reasons, that isn’t currently possible.

In fact, such utilities can conflict with 1Password in some situations. If you have the main 1Password app open but hidden (using Command-H or the 1Password > Hide 1Password menu command), apps like text-expansion utilities may disable themselves to prevent the possibility that they could “watch” your typing and record a password behind your back. That can be inconvenient, however, if you forgot you hid 1Password and all of a sudden your abbreviations stop working.

AgileBits has a support article on this topic, but it amounts to making sure the 1Password app is either not running or not hidden when using text expansion.

Clipboard Managers

Numerous Mac utilities manipulate your Clipboard in various ways—for example, keeping a history of everything you’ve copied, allowing you to filter Clipboard contents as you paste, and providing multiple concurrent clipboards. In addition to stand-alone utilities of this sort, such as CopyPaste Pro and PTHPasteboard PRO, LaunchBar (a launcher utility mentioned earlier) and the macro utility Keyboard Maestro support clipboard histories.

The problem is that if you’re copying and pasting passwords, you may not want them to stay in clipboard histories so that anyone with access to your computer could see your passwords in unencrypted form. 1Password attempts to address this concern by clearing the Clipboard contents a given number of seconds (90 by default) after copying something—see Set Security Preferences for details.

In addition, 1Password marks values copied to the Clipboard with the org.nspasteboard.ConcealedType identifier (explained at nspasteboard.org). This identifier signals to third-party utilities (including most clipboard managers, text-expansion utilities, and macro utilities) that the information should be treated as confidential—it’s up to the utilities to decide how they want to interpret that information.

If that capability still doesn’t produce the desired results, most clipboard managers let you specify applications from which Clipboard contents should never be saved; however, excluding 1Password (for better security) may prevent useful sorts of copying and pasting.

Macro Utilities

Macro utilities—in particular Keyboard Maestro—let you automate complex sequences of tasks. Although these utilities can’t see into your 1Password data directly, you can program keystrokes into your macros to manipulate 1Password—for example, Command-Option-\ to bring up 1Password mini, a portion of a login name to search, and then Right arrow–Down arrow–Return to copy its password. (I’ll let you work out the specifics based on what you’re trying to do.)

One tricky bit is figuring out whether or not 1Password is locked, because if it is and your macro expects it to be unlocked, it won’t work. (And, you don’t want to put your master password in your macro—that would be insecure.) Paul Waldo posted a clever techniqueon his blog that uses Keyboard Maestro’s little-known image-matching feature to do exactly this, and it’s worth checking out if you’d like to incorporate passwords from 1Password in your Keyboard Maestro macros.