Keep your secrets with 1Password

Keep your secrets with 1Password
Mac Tip #464, 24 November 2010

1Password is an absolutely essential application for anyone who needs to use more than 1 password in their online life. But it does way more than saving passwords for you. It also keeps secret notes. Here’s how to make a note and keep it safe from prying eyes.

A safe on your devices

1Password is a safe for your data.

1Password is a safe for your data.

A couple of years ago I wrote a MacTip extolling the virtues of one of the most useful bits of software you can buy: 1Password fills forms for you. That Tip was about forms and information like names and addresses. But 1Password has another aspect: you can save text notes too, locked away securely behind a password.

Buy, download and install 1Password — it’s probably the single biggest favour you can do for yourself today.

Choose a good Master Password

When you install and set up 1Password it will ask you for a Master Password. It’s really important that you choose a good, strong, password that you keep secret. This password is your defence against prying eyes. Choose wisely. And don’t forget it!

Now you should use 1Password to manage all your online passwords, but this Tip is about secure notes, so we’ll move on to that.

Make a secure note

A blank secure note in 1Password.

A blank secure note in 1Password.

Call up and unlock 1Password on your Mac. Now you’re ready to save some Notes.

  1. From the File menu choose New Item > New Secure Note. A blank note is created, and the Title is selected, ready for you to type a better title.
  2. Type a title that will mean something to you. As you create more notes the Title will show up in a list. Enter a title that encapsulates the note. Press the Return key or just click somewhere else to move on.
  3. Enter optional tags. Below the Title is an area for Tags. Tags are words you choose that help describe or mark out this note. Type a comma after each word or phrase. The tag will be displayed in a blue ‘capsule’. To edit a ‘capsule’ double click on it.
  4. Type the body of the Note. Click in the main Notes area and type whatever text you like in here. You can only enter plain text: no italics or bold, or red, green or blue. If you have a lot of text to enter just keep typing — there’s plenty of room, and the text area expands. If there’s a lot of text a scroll bar appears so you can move up and down the Note.
  5. Add an Attachment if you need to. You may need or want to add a small file of some kind to your note. In my example, it may be a photo of the safe. From the Edit menu choose Add Attachment…. A standard dialog box appears. Find the file and click the Open button to attach it. Note that it’s not a good idea to add too many large files, as it can slow everything down. The file is attached and displays as a named icon in the Attachments area.
  6. Choose a security level. Choose High or Low Security from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the Note. This security level determines whether further passwords and access codes are required to see details of the Note.
  7. Click the Save button at the bottom of the Secure Note.
The completed Secure Note.

The completed Secure Note*.

The note you’ve created will now be as safe as any other information you keep in 1Password. Be sure to use a good Master Password, as that’s the essence of keeping your secrets secret.

Logins, software licenses, identities

Secure Notes are good for information that doesn’t fit elsewhere in 1Password. It already has areas for logins, identity information, credit cards, software serial numbers. As they say on the 1Password website:

Before storing too much information in free-form Secure Notes, however, be sure to check out other 1Password item types and templates. For example, many things you might consider adding as a Secure Note may already have Wallet item templates available for them.

Disclaimer: I don’t have a basement, or a safe. Tell us in the Comments about how you use 1Password for saving Notes.

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