Head to Head: Putting Wallet & 1Password to the Test

When was the last time you counted how many online services you are a part of? 20? 50? Most likely you either have dozens of sticky notes scattered with random passwords, or use one password for all of your services.

This is where password managers come in handy. Recently, we have seen two of the more popular options: 1Password from Agile Web Solutions and Wallet from Acrylic Software, hit version 3. Both Wallet and 1Password also have corresponding iPhone / iPod touch Applications available for download.

This review will take an in-depth look at both applications, and hopefully guide you in the right direction for choosing a password manager to lock down your online identity. If you’re more interested in reading about all the different apps available, check out our roundup of 8 Password Managers for Mac.

Round 1: Security

When I first got hold of a copy of 1Password, I was skeptical that it was secure enough to handle all of my passwords, license codes, and logins to my online personas. However, many of these features are built right into Keychain Access, which is a core part of the Macintosh operating system.

Inside of Keychain Access the wireless network passwords, account passwords, and many web certificates are secured using Triple DES encryption standards.

Triple DES is the same security standards often used for transmitting electronic payments online.

First up under my security interrogation session was Wallet. Wallet stores all of your passwords and secure notes, serial numbers, etc. in a “Wallet Database File.” This file is wrapped in a 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption, often used to secure military level documents.

Agile Keychain

Agile Keychain

Next, I looked at 1Password. This application uses 128-bit AES encryption based on the OpenSSL standard. However, unlike the database file produced by Wallet, this application actually replace’s the Mac’s core “keychain” and replaced it with its own “Agile Keychain“.

This is radically different compared to many other password managers on the market. According to Agile Web Solutions (the makers of 1Password) this “Agile Keychain” can handle gigabytes and gigabytes of information (attached to logins, secure notes, etc) without slowing down or causing system lags. However after storing quite a bit of information into Wallet, I did not notice any kind of performance hit.

It is important to note that in both instances of these password managers, there is one “master password” that unlocks the rest of your logins and secured data. This means, if you make your master password too simple and easy to guess, the hacker has access to all of your passwords, serial numbers, credit cards, or anything else you choose to store in the application.

It goes both ways too though, if you forget your “master password” no one can help you to get your data back (short of a number of teenage Russian hackers!)

Round 2: Appearance and Flexibility

I had planned to lock nearly everything worth securing inside one of these applications. Both pieces of shareware give you the ability to store more than just web logins inside of them.

When you first open up Wallet, there are already a few predetermined groups: Web Passwords, Serial Numbers, Credit Cards, and Notes; with the ability to add more groups and even customize the icon associated with each. This is a bit more than what you get with 1Password.

Wallet's Main Window

Wallet's Main Window

In 1Password 3, there are improved options for storing information like application serial numbers, credit cards, etc. However, if you would like to store other arbitrary information, you are most likely stuck with storing them as Secure Notes.

I normally would not mind this, and lived with this during the days of 1Password 2, however after testing Wallet 3, I was able to customize groups and alternative information in a seamless, less thrown-together way.

1Password Main Screen

1Password Main Screen

1Password Lock Screen

1Password Lock Screen

When it comes down to aesthetics, I found Wallet to more seamlessly integrate with my Mac, with its familiar Address Book-inspired layout. That said, 1Password received a major facelift (and with good reason!) when it jumped to the 3.0 version. It seems like something from the future, with a neat login screen and Finder/iTunes inspired layout. I really loved the preview images of the websites and icons of software that are loaded into the application. However, I do personally prefer the Wallet icon over the 1Password (key/ignition slot) icon.

Round 3: Importing

If you are like me, you will be importing data from a previous password management program. 1Password 3 supports (at the time of writing) 20 varying password storage and software license formats, such as importing your Firefox passwords, your Appshelf software keys and your Roboforms information.

This is very handy if you happen to be using one of the supported applications, however if you aren’t, it can be a bit confusing and frustrating to get a generic CSV list into the application in working order.

Importing into Wallet

Importing into Wallet

Wallet takes an entirely different approach. Simply export your data from your current password manager into a generic text format and point Wallet to it. Wallet will then have you connect the “wires” between the fields. This format works extremely well and is very intuitive.

Round 4: Daily Use

One of the most important features of a password manager is the ability to work without hassle in your daily workflow. Both applications offer an auto-fill feature, with some browser integration.

Wallet's Menu Bar

Wallet's Menu Bar

Wallet offers a very, very meager version of this. It is a menu bar applet that allows you to fill in login information on the fly – that is, after you input your password, each and every time. This might be a bit more secure, but quite annoying after using it for a longer period of time. This applet only works with Safari at the moment, so Firefox, Flock, Chrome, Camino and users of more obscure browsers beware!

1Password Browsers

1Password Browsers

1Password has Wallet beat to a pulp on this round. The browser integration supports nearly every browser I have seen, and several that I haven’t even heard of. Plus, the application can also save passwords on the fly (or better yet, make new strong passwords for you) as you are signing into a new service. It will even detect a password change and update the database for you.

Also, 1Password features the ability to automatically fill in forms for you. Items such as your email, address, phone numbers, etc. can all be stored within the application and filled into new sites. It will even store multiple “Identities” so you can have a business account and a personal account.

Round 5: iPhone Sync

Both Wallet and 1Password offer a iPhone client that allows you to access your passwords on to go. This eliminates the need to have simple, easy to remember, easy to hack passwords for each of your online accounts.

Wallet for iPhone

Wallet for iPhone

Wallet has a very slick application, with the ability to synchronize over the air through MobileMe or WebDAV servers, or if you need to, directly over your Wifi network. The iPhone application resembles the Mac application in look and feel and has a built in browser that auto-fills your information.

However, syncing via online servers can be slow. Also, there is just one password used that stands in the way of someone accessing your data, and it must be entered each time the application is launched.

1Password Touch

1Password Touch

1Password for the iPhone resembles other generic iPhone applications, storing your logins and other information in the phone’s contact-like format. It isn’t as pretty as Wallet but boasts a few extra security measures. For one, you can simply access the titles of your logins (Mint, Gmail, Basecamp, etc) with a 4 digit pin, but if you would like to get access to the password you will need to enter a longer, more secure password.

All of these settings are available to be changed in their Mac based counterpart. The app also has a built in web browser that automatically fills in your username and password. However, you are forced to purchase the 1Password Pro version if you would like the ability to copy your password to the clipboard and into the normal version of Safari.

1Password Anywhere

1Password Anywhere

If you happen to be without your iPhone, but with access to a computer and web browser, you’re in luck. 1Password has a feature that allows you to save a HTML web based version of the application known as 1Password Anywhere, which can be accessed through a browser via an FTP/WebDAV server or through a service like DropBox.

It looks identical to the Mac version and works extremely well, however I would love to see them offer some sort of hosted service (even if it comes with an additional fee). I really enjoyed their now defunct my1Password service which is similar to 1Password Anywhere, but Agile Web Solutions hosted it themselves.

I liked both applications quite a bit, and having the over-the-air sync can be helpful in times when you are away from your computer and have not synced your information recently. I liked 1Passwords passcode system more than Wallet’s single password solution, but found it to lack the pizazz that is found in the Mac based application.

The Final Verdict

Overall I find that 1Password triumphs over Wallet because of its useful integration with every browser. Safari isn’t the only browser on the Mac, by far, and not supporting Firefox out the gate is a misstep in my mind.

I liked Wallet’s aesthetics and import process over 1Password. If you are really looking for a great way to keep track of sensitive data, Wallet would be better suited, but if you need an all-purpose password manager, 1Password is the clear winner.

Either way, let me know what you think of each application and if you have found any alternative solutions to sensitive data management!


Add Yours
  • Sounds great…I’d love to use it, but obviously as a Windows user I’m pretty screwed. :)

    • Then why read a mac.appstorm?

      • Because she might switch to a Mac. But if not: Ouch!

    • I hear “KeyPass” is pretty good for Windows and it’s Free last time i checked.

  • I went through the same experience myself, although I my experience 1Password didn’t win out by such a margin.

    I started off using Wallet mostly because I use Times as my RSS reader and loved what Acrylic were doing with their software. After a while though I got frustrated with the lack of Firefox integration in Wallet and switched to 1Password.

    The fantastic browser integration 1Password provides makes me happy to stick with it, but whenever I open up the actual app to add more entries or update some details I always feel a longing for the more elegant user interface of Wallet.

    Hopefully the Acrylic guys will add support for other browsers soon.

    • Times is Awesome.

      Wallet is not.

      1Password is King.

    • I have never used 1Password but have used Wallet from the beginning and still use it to this day. Between the desktop and iOS app it is a clean and simple solution. My only issue as mentioned is lack of various browsers support and the Acrylic guys don’t seem to care about further advancements of the Wallet app. I hope I’m wrong and they continue to improve it because they can take it to another level if they focus on it a little more. Plus, they never seem to promote this application at all. Unlike “1Password” which seems to be mention all over the place.

  • 1Password works well with Dropbox so the lack of Mobileme isn’t an issue. Just set the Agile Keychain within Dropbox and you’re away.

  • Thanks for the article.
    I already use 1Password on my iPod Touch and I love it.
    I intent to use the Mac app as well once I finally receive my 27″ i7 iMac.

  • For me Wallet is the best, but the lack of Firefox integration is very frustrated. But I love the Interface!

    Times is such a great application too, but should have Google Reader integration.

  • 1Password for the win! I have been a faithful user for a number of years now. It is one of my favorite apps ever.

  • I use Wallet a bit differently—mainly I just need hints for my passwords, and reminders of what email address I used to sign up for things. And I also keep my software serial numbers in it, and a lot of other information such as account numbers for the electric company, etc. So Wallet is the best for that type of usage—when I did my comparision shopping, it was the only one that allowed you NOT to set a password, which I don’t need, and the three-pane interface makes it very easy to skim for information.

  • I’ve been using 1PW for a number of years, and I cannot imagine my internet life without it. It is, by far, a superior product to Wallet because of its browser integration and flexibility. Agile Software is also one of the very best Mac developers: responsive, active with their user base, and creative.

  • I rarely use firefox for personnal browsing, I know 1password is more or less compatible with WebKit nightly builds (if you enable it…) , would it be the same for Wallet ?

    • Wallet works with WebKit the same way it does with Safari; no need to enable anything.

  • I love 1 Password, and they have a great team and support. Always i receive frecuently updates…this is and important point

  • I got the desktop version of 1PW through a promo and only one or two months later bought the full, updated version because it’s so awesome and helpful in daily life.

    I think that’s because I will also always stick with the mobile version of 1PW; I am used to the GUI and I like the functionality and ease of use. You pointed out some interesting things about Wallet, mainly the syncing capabilities, but since I have been using 1PW for so long, I doubt I’ll switch.

  • I just started using LastPass and love it. Much better compatibility outside of the Mac world (but also within).

  • Thank you. I really enjoyed this post. It was a very useful, practical and informative post. I’d love to see more posts like this one! I’ve been using 1Password since I first got a Mac 2 years ago and love it. But I’ve been drawn to Wallet because of the aesthetics and some of the other great features you talked about. However, I love the ease of use and Password Manager for 1Password. So I’m sticking with them for now. (Although they REALLY need to get Chrome up and running. It doesn’t really work at all at the moment.)

  • Meh. I still see no reason to stop using Keychain Access for this stuff (it’s built into OS X). Maybe if my list of passwords expands and becomes too unwieldy, I might consider switching to one of these apps.

  • Wallet is great. I love that it syncs with my iPod Touch. As a web designer I really like that Wallet allows you to setup custom templates inside each group. It works great for keeping track of not only my passwords but client website information as well. I setup a group called “Web Hosting” and I store FTP, database, and hosting information under 1 single entry… works beautiful. The only thing I would change is to make the cursor focus in the search field as soon as you enter you master password so you do a quick search. Command + F will do until then.

  • I’ve been tempted to try 1password, but have been enjoying AllSecure since getting the Macheist bundle.

    It seems to work well enough, but no automatic browser integration. All I can do is provide the link, then click a button within the software to launch safari with the info filled in. How lame is that.

  • I also use LastPass because I started out as a Windows/Firefox user. I find it is great because I now have a MacBook Pro, an iPhone and also a Windows desktop so I get syncing of passwords between machines and my iPhone. If I was just using a Mac and iPhone I would probably use 1Password based on your post. Thanks for a great post!

  • I’ve always been a fan of Wallet, it’s beautiful and works well for me! And multiple browser support is coming soon!

  • First off, thanks for the review, it was a great read. This is how software reviews should be done. I have really enjoyed all of the software related posts here on appstorm.

    Next, I have been a 1password user for years and 3.0 was a sweet update. I will continue to support Agile. I have used an earlier version of wallet, but for my needs and usage 1password is my app of choice.

  • Very nice overview. One thing I would note (and I only add this because I wasn’t aware of this myself until a few weeks ago, despite using 1Password 3 since early beta) is that you can add some additional pre-configured account types, like Database info, Unix server info, Amazon S3 stuff, Mobile Me, iTunes info, etc. if you click on the add button in the Account Types section. That gives a lot more flexibility and doesn’t make you rely on secure notes as much.

    As far as groups, also remember you can add tags to your entries and create smart folders.

    I like Wallet’s interface, but for me, the killer feature for 1Password was and remains its compatibility with every web browser that I use. I also do like that it has its own database now. Frankly, that becomes less of a performance issue than a security issue. On more than one occasion I had my login keychain become corrupted, probably due to either too much stuff or something weird in the Keychain info and I had to rely on backups. I just feel better knowing my OS X stuff is separate from my other logins

  • What about SecretBox from app4mac.com?

  • Nice post. Tired a number of other solutions, including Secretbox, Wallet and one other that i’ve since forgotten. The thing that sold me on 1Password is the DropBox integration. To James, of the “Meh – I’ll use keychain…” response, Keychain is strictly one Mac at time. With 1Password, all of the functionality, and all of my passwords and other valuable information are available to me all the time on each of my devices, seamlessly, without effort. I alternate rather freely between Safari and Firefox, and 1Password works perfectly each and every time. Also worthy of note are the automatic logging and updating functions. Jcw

  • I think when it comes to this type of tool, graphics is the last thing I care about … I want it to be functional, secure, easy to use, sync-able with my iPhone and basically get the job done with least amount of hassle.
    They both look great, but as I’ve been using Wallet for over 5 years, I will continue on that path… as all I see as main difference is the browser integration, which is (for me) not a priority at all. In my case, quick, easy, and seamless sync with my iPhone is absolute key.
    But certainly kudos to both developers … they are well ahead of anyone else in this field.

  • This really is a neat application. I am a mac user for years, but it is new to me. Especially using it together with your iphone makes it worth it.

  • Great review. Thanks!
    I’ve been using 1Password for years now. One of 1Password’s features I enjoy and missed from the review is that they have a Windows version as well.
    It is not as nice and a big more buggy than the Mac version, but it is great for people like myself who are forced to spend part of their life on Windows

  • I know that this article is a few days old, but for everyones information I’d like to point out that Wallet is not going to be updated and maintained any more because the Wallet guys have moved to Facebook.

    During the past two years, I have preferred Wallet slightly over 1Password mainly because of two things: Wallet allows attachments to be synced to iOS devices, and Wallet is much more customizeable. (Third: I think Wallet’s interface is nicer.) On the negative side, Wallet in my experience isn’t half as reliable as 1Password with regard to Safari integration; their support is subterranean, if it ever existed. And you can’t sort entries by date, which is something I need to do once in a while to clean up entries. So I am about to switch back to 1Password soon.