Store passwords and sensitive data securely across all your devices.
I bounce back and forth between two worlds — my daytime job and my personal life in the evening. Digital devices are a big part of both of those worlds for me and as you might imagine, I have a lot of passwords to juggle. For the longest time, I fell into the ‘one password’ trap where I used one semi-complicated password for all my user names. Experts will tell you that is a BAD idea. So, I eventually started using the ‘suggested’ password that populates into password fields thanks to Apple’s iCloud Keychain. As I mentioned, I bounce back and forth between systems on a daily basis. That means that my Apple iCloud Keychain can’t jump with me over to my work computer. So what should I do? The simplest answer is to enable a password manager on all my devices so that one system manages and secures all my accounts and passwords. There are several different options out there for password manager and I’ve found that it’s usually best to go with a company you trust for things like this. That’s why I decided to try out NordPass from the developers of NordVPN.
NordPass is dubbed as a ‘new generation’ password manager. It features cutting-edge technology, zero knowledge encryption, and an intuitive design. The concept behind it is to provide a secure place to store all your passwords. NordPass was created by the team that developed NordVPN. NordPass can not only store your private passwords, but it also has the power to generate passwords for you. It also uses the xChaCha20 algorithm to encrypt credit cards and private notes. NordPass is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. In addition to having superior desktop support within its app, NordPass also has advanced features for the mobile version of the app including OCR scanning, biometrics, and accessibility offline.
- Autosave and auto fill
- Generate unique passwords
- Share login credentials
- Import passwords with ease
- Top-level security
- Biometric authentication
- OCR scanning
- Password vault
Because I’m primarily an Apple user, I am always hesitant to try to switch over to a password manager. I use my iCloud Keychain to manage my passwords so why would I need a dedicated password manager? One big reason is that Password Managers can do more than just save passwords. The other big reason is cross-platform compatibility, which I mentioned above. With that in mind, I downloaded NordPass for both my MacBook Pro and my iPhone to begin the testing process.
Installation was simple and it’s important to remember that NordPass is free. The basic features of the password manager are available at no out of pocket cost for the end-user. I have included the pricing chart below from NordPass so that it’s easy to compare the two pricing options. For most users, the free version will work just fine. I have to admit that I was surprised that syncing across devices was included in the free version of NordPass because a lot of password managers cut that off as a feature to entice users to opt-in for the premium version.
Installation of the app on my iPhone was a different experience then what I found with the macOS version. With the macOS app, I only had to enter my account information (email/master password) and I was all set. On my iPhone, however, I had a couple of additional steps to wade through before I could start using it. First, after you download the app, you are asked to enter your email address. This should be the email address you set the account up under. You will then see a screen that prompts you to enter a 6-digit code that was sent to your email. The first time I attempted this, the code didn’t arrive right away. So, I resent the code. Again, it didn’t show up. The code expires after 30 minutes once it’s generated and because the system was delayed in sending the emails to me, it took me 5 tries to finally get a code that worked.
Next, you will be asked to enter your account’s master password. I entered my master password and got an error message saying the password was incorrect. I reentered it carefully because I was certain the password was correct. Again, I got an error message. So, I went to the macOS app and changed my master password. The iOS app still didn’t accept the password. So, I reached out to the support chat on NordPass.com. I described my problem to ‘Helen’ and she had me change my Master Password one more time and then asked me to reinstall the iOS app. After re-installing it, the app worked just fine. I still don’t know what the original problem was, but a clean install of the app ended up being the answer. And even though that was a relatively basic troubleshooting step I could have taken on my own, I was grateful to have on-demand support from NordPass’s chat at that point because I was so frustrated!
When you have the app installed, you will see a blank screen like the one above if you don’t already have passwords saved in your account. One of the things I was most worried about with using a dedicated password manager was how it would work with my devices. As it turns out, NordPass works well with iOS because you can actually use it to Autofill passwords just like you would the iCloud Keychain manager. You simply go to Settings > Passwords and Accounts > AutoFill passwords and then you enable Autofill with NordPass. You can actually have both your iCloud Keychain and NordPass activated for Autofill at the same time.
As you can imagine, it can take some time to populate passwords into a password manager. Chances are you have been using the Internet for a while at this point and have already accumulated a mass of passwords and accounts to enter into a password manager. You can, of course, enter them all by hand, but NordPass wants to make this process painless so you have the option to import passwords and accounts from other password managers or files. I found the easiest way to do this is to go to the macOS app and enter Settings. Click on the Import/Export option and you will see a list of applications NordPass will accept data from. I actually have a free LastPass account that I use for work so I exported data from that system (as a CSV file) and then imported that into NordPass. The process was simple and the data transferred over seamlessly. The next few images show the import process.
I really like the interface that NordPass provides to users and that it works well with both iOS and macOS platforms, but I have one major complaint — it isn’t supported in Safari. Since I am an Apple user, Safari is the main Internet browser I use so for it not to be supported, it’s awkward for me to bounce back and forth between the app on my MacBook Pro and Safari as I have to manually copy/paste passwords. I’m still happy to have a secure password manager, but I do hope that support for Safari will be included in a future version.
NordPass is a solid option for a password manager that works on all major platforms. While it may not support Safari at this time, I think it’s still a good option for storing secure information and being able to retrieve it across all devices.
Originally published at https://macsources.com on June 12, 2020.