Comparing Password Managers

I’d like your opinion on Dashlane, the app that Google is pushing. I held off doing anything about 1Password when we were waiting to see about the releasing of iCloud Keychain… and I never tried the free LastPass.

I always enjoy introducing people to password management. It’s an increasingly popular and necessary tool, but the whole idea of passwords is so fraught with anxiety and uncertainty that many folks have trepidation about starting to use one of the available solutions. But when they do open up to it, it relieves the headache of remembering logins and keeps their stuff secure. Just start feeding your stuff data into the app, and it starts working for you

I keep not just logins in my password manager, but also things like frequent flyer numbers, credit cards, bank accounts, my family’s social security numbers and drivers’ licenses, and other tidbits I wouldn’t want readily visible in my notes or address book (y’all know who you are). Because I know that whatever I stuff in there will be easy to get to and easy to change as needed, I no longer feel any friction or hesitation about receiving an updated credit card or being forced to change a login; I know I’ll just plug it in once on any of my gadgets, and it will be immediately available on all my others


As you say, Dashlane, LastPass, and 1Password are still the top contenders. As password management is so crucial to getting smoothly through a 21st-century day, I encourage anyone to jump on board with whatever service they feel suits them.

I admit to a bias, but 1Password is still my go-to for many reasons. They have thought of little details like keyboard navigation, lots of different categories, and overall integration with the Mac and iPhone operating systems. It’s pretty, clean, and smooth, and I love it. I open the app at least a couple of times a day, and I’m using it constantly even barely thinking about it via the autofill extensions.

LastPass works fine, and they have some nice enterprise-level features. I really appreciate that their free tier now syncs between devices. I have had frustrations with the interface, mostly along the lines of, “Wait, I gotta go alllll the way up there to click on that and then I gotta click on this other thing? I can’t just do this with my arrow keys and hit return?” (I’m extraordinarily lazy.)

And it’s not just me: a client recently mentioned that LastPass made an update to their browser extension that made it less convenient to use, so we installed the Mac app for him, and it refused to honor the system setting for default browser, i.e, it kept opening links in Safari even though all her other Mac apps use Chrome.

A pal o’ mine is a big fan of Dashlane. If you compare it against the other options, and prefer it, there is no reason not to use it.

Dashlane is a bit cleaner and smoother than LP, but to me they are on a par: both do the fundamentals fine, but I don’t much cleverness behind their design.

DL and LP both have one big thing that 1P does not, and that’s automatic password changing. I like that a lot, not enough for me to switch, but certainly as a boon for anyone.

1Password’s family and business plans are well-priced and sync smooth like buttah. Consider doing the family plan and getting your kids in on the action, so you can share crucial information that can be important to have on hand in emergencies.

You’ll be glad you signed up!

[Update Nov 2018: I published this a while back. iCloud Keychain is now a standard and reliable component of iOS and macOS. But it is not designed to replace these other solutions, and in fact in iOS 12, Apple has allowed third-party password managers to integrate with the keyboard, a game-changingly fantastic improvement to all of our security.]


I got to write this to a client today:

Good afternoon. In response to your server’s alert that one of its storage volumes was filling up, I dialed in to take a look.

I used a utility that tells us what’s consuming space.

It looks like the folder called “Crap” takes up the most room. Are the contents of the Crap folder indeed crappy? Can we get that crap off the server, or should it remain, crapping up the rest of your crap?

Let me know. It would be real easy to get a cheap hard drive and put all your crap on it.

How much should I fiddle with the privacy settings on iOS?

O’Grady is a legit writer, and his tips here are not specifically wrong. But I personally have less worry about this stuff, mostly because I think anyone who actually wants to track my location that bad can follow my car around.

This article by Jason O’Grady has some reasonable recommendations.

O’Grady is a legit writer, and his tips here are not specifically wrong. But I personally have less worry about this stuff, mostly because I think anyone who actually wants to track my location that bad can follow my car around.

Also, there are so many other things that companies know about us. Every time we charge our credit card, we reveal our location.

I don’t know how someone would cause me harm just from having the information. But I do know that I benefit from my phone being able to use my location to give me more relevant data and get me through my day.

So, while one can certainly switch these switches, and feel a little more private, I think it’s important to take privacy concerns in context, and recognize where each of us are, and are not, truly vulnerable.

Who I am, what I do, and why I do it

Who I am

In 1984, my dad and I took the very first Mac model for a weekend test drive. I’ve been hooked on excellent, beautifully designed technology ever since.

All through other paths — as an English major, graphic design and production, writing, and publishing — I really always excelled at helping people understand how to use technology. I’m patient, I’m a communicator, and I like to see people delighted by gadgets. Coincidentally, I realized my calling right about the time broadband made the internet fun, and Mac OS X came into its own.

So in 2003, I left my job at the San Antonio Current to start J2 Consulting, now jjmarcus.

Since then, I started one of the few server-rated, Apple-certified Mac consulting firms in San Antonio and South Texas. In 2014, I got married and moved my family and business to Dallas. I have been incredibly grateful that my whole San Antonio clientele agreed to come with me, and lucky that the tools are now available to help me support them from afar.

I focus exclusively on Apple devices and networks. From small businesses to consumers, nonprofits to public companies, I have been thrilled to help hundreds of people improve their lives through technology.

That was then

I started my own business in 2003 to help people with their Macs. Back then, IT work was still a little complicated. Not every question had a simple answer.

I worked, happily and proudly, in the traditional reactive mode of IT for 10 years, performing hourly service as needed. I have helped hundreds of people work easier and play more.

This is now

Five years later, tech cut loose. People learned to get and use powerful applications on portable devices. We started calling them “apps,” which sounds a lot friendlier than “applications.” Even “smart phone” is better than “computer.” And when the phone doesn’t work, well, just turn it off and turn it on again.

Now we take our gadgets, and their internet connections, for granted. We get informed and entertained, wherever we are, whenever we want.

And we want it to All. Just. Work.

I usually does, and when it doesn’t, it’s so much faster to fix than it used to be. That’s where my managed support comes in. For the first time ever, I can know the health of all the computers under my administration, and take comfort knowing that they are automatically maintaining themselves. So if something goes awry, I can resolve it even before it causes downtime, and all the basic troubleshooting has already been done for me.

So I think the old model of IT is outdated. It’s not about break/fix. It’s about automation and proactive management. And making people happy with their Macs has never been easier.

Word up

“Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!”
Gonna leave this here. Welcome to the new J2Mac page. Redesign is happening as we speak. On the off chance you happen to be watching today, please pardon any back ‘n’ forth. And if you have any WordPress tips for me, throw ’em at I’m doing this seat-of-the-pants as usual, and will clean it up quick as I can.

LogMeIn available for Mac… um… last year

Oh, man, this is top notch: LogMeIn, probably the leading package that let’s you control your computers from afar, finally came out with a Mac controller for their Free package, and … I guess I’m the last to know about it.

Previously we have been able to control PCs with LogMeIn, because it has been browser-based, and the same company has had Hamachi, a free VPN thing that I always meant to play with, but didn’t like that I had to use a 3rd-party app to do it. But now LMI has a plug-in to install on the Mac. Very very sweet.

So, I was talking with a new client who lives a little ways out of San Antonio, and we were discussing the methods I use to provide support, and he said, “Well, you could always connect to me with LogMeIn.” 
Sho’ ’nuff: About 20 minutes later, I had an account at LogMeIn and was able to access my own computer from afar. I had set up a VPN for this already, but LogMeIn is way easier. I can’t believe they released it to beta a year ago, and went 1.0 in December, but anyway I’m glad to have it now!
Now, they don’t have their Pro version available for Mac, so you can’t grab files or print remotely like you can with a VPN, so that latter option might still be preferable for many folks, perhaps with Hamachi and perhaps with the iVPN solution I mentioned previously. But just being able to get to your screen is huge.
Incidentally, security goes like this: You have a password to log in to your LogMeIn account, and then to control your computer you need to enter the name and password for your user account. 
And what do we learn from this? Pleeeeeeease make sure you have good, strong passwords on all of your accounts, both online and on your computer, and please don’t use the same password for every frackin’ thing you do!
Log me up, Scotty.