iCloud Keychain is Apple's attempt to make a basic level of password management available to the mainstream. With it, your account names, passwords, and credit cards numbers can be stored in iCloud, and synced across all iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks devices that are logged in under the same Apple ID. In conjunction with Safari, it can also generate new, unique passwords, and autofill them when and as needed. All with 256-bit AES encryption. So, Apple has made it easier than ever to manage your passwords, but not necessarily simpler. There's still a lot to understand, and that's where iMore comes in. Here's how it all works!
There are some pros and cons to using iCloud Keychain. For example, it doesn't have a separate master password option, so once you unlock your device, anyone you hand it to can access all your passwords and credit cards. Also, the passwords it generates aren't particularly strong. It is, however, easy and far, far, better than nothing. Apple will ask you if you want to use it when you first setup your iOS device, but if you change your mind, or if you want to switch back or switch away, you can quickly enable it - or disable it - in Settings.
iCloud Keychain is meant to be an easy way to manage passwords on your Apple devices. When password management is easier, using stronger passwords is easier. Since it can be tough to come up with strong, unique passwords, good password managers will generate them for you, and iCloud Keychain in iOS 7 is no exception. Unfortunately, the passwords generated by iCloud Keychain aren't exceptionally strong, but they are better than using the same password for every site. That makes them an okay starting point for people who want a little more security, but don't want full-fledged password manager from the App Store.
iCloud Keychain will generate and store all your iOS 7 Safari-based passwords and autofill them for you where and as needed. However, there may be times when a website doesn't allow autofill (for example, at public terminal), or you want to use a password outside Safari (for example, in another app), and then you'll need to find it, copy it, and paste it in manually. Luckily, you can do just that via the Settings apps. Here's how!
Whether it's for security or privacy reasons, or just some technical failing, but not all websites just let you save passwords to iCloud Keychain. That can be annoying, to say the least, when you're trying to sync your login info across all your Apple devices. Luckily, Safari can often let you save passwords even if the website itself tries to stop you. Here's how to do it in iOS 7.
One of the side-effects of an easy-to-use system like iCloud Keychain is that sometimes you accidentally end up saving a password you didn't intend to. That, or you simply stop using a certain site and no longer need its password saved, or some glitch comes up and it's not working properly, and you just want to start over. Regardless of the reason, iOS 7 makes it easy, if not immediately obvious...
iCloud Keychain lets you easily store not only your passwords, but your credit card information as well. Any time you pay with a card in Safari, iCloud Keychain will offer to save it for you. However, you can also add cards to iCloud Keychain any time you wish. That way, you can do it when it's most convenient, and avoid having to run for your wallet when it's not. If an ounce of prevention now saving you a pound of effort later sounds good, here's how to do it!
Like with iOS, iCloud Keychain on OS X Mavericks is a mixed blessing. You get easy password management, but no master password, and the passwords generated aren't very strong. But, again, way, way better than nothing. Apple will ask you if you want to use it when you first setup your Mac, but if you change your mind, or if you want to switch back or switch away, you can quickly enable it - or disable it - in System Preferences.
To disable iCloud Keychain, repeat the above step but uncheck iCloud Keychain.
iCloud Keychain in OS X Mavericks, just like in iOS 7, is meant to make password management easy enough that most people will start creating and using stronger, more unique passwords. While the passwords generated by iCloud Keychain aren't as strong as we'd like, they're lightyears ahead of duplicate passwords, or the simple type of passwords that are all to common. A full-fledged password manager from the Mac App Store is really the way to go, but if you're just getting started and you want the easiest thing possible - and absolutely something better than nothing - iCloud Keychain is here for you.
Not all websites just let you save passwords to iCloud Keychain. Whether for privacy or security reasons, or simple technical misconfiguration, sometimes your best efforts to stay in sync across your Apple devices will be stymied... at least at first. Luckily, Safari can often let you save passwords even if the website itself tries to stop you. Here's how to do it in OS X Mavericks.
If you're using iCloud Keychain in order to store your passwords, you can also use it to store your credit card information and sync it across all your iPhone, iPads, and Macs. Any time you pay with a credit card on your Mac, iCloud Keychain will offer to save it. However, you can also add a card manually any time it's convenient. That can save you a mad dash to your wallet in the middle of the night.
If you have additional questions, or need some more help with iCloud Keychain, or iOS 7, check out the following resources!