If you’re moving from LastPass (or another password manager you’re dissatisfied with), you may be tempted to simply go with the password manager that comes with your browser or operating system. It’s certainly an easy solution, and a reasonable one, depending on your point of view. Third-party password managers were traditionally thought to be more reliable, but Apple and Google have been working to improve the protection of their built-in password managers, and Microsoft is adding one to its authenticator app. As a result, it could be a viable alternative.
However, one way in which these built-in password managers fall short of their independent counterparts is how challenging it is to get preexisting passwords into their systems.
If you prefer to remain in the Apple ecosystem, this means keeping your passwords in Safari and moving them to your other devices via Apple’s iCloud Keychain. Here’s how to convert your iCloud Keychain password files.
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You Need a keyChain
Apple uses iCloud Keychain to sync your details across devices, including passwords, credit card information, and Wi-Fi passwords. If you haven’t used it before, double-check that it’s been set up and switched on. (You may want to review it there, too, if you intend to use your passwords on your iOS mobile device as well.)
For macOS device:
- Tap on the Apple icon in the upper-left corner to go to your Device Settings app.
- Click iCloud if you have a macOS Mojave or earlier. If not, go to Apple ID > iCloud.
- Check the Keychain is tested when you go down the list of applications.
For iOS device:
- Go to Settings and tap on your name
- Tap and scroll down to Keychain on iCloud
- If Keychain isn’t turned on, tap on the entry and turn it on.
Import the password data
You need to import it into Safari on your Mac in order to get your data into Keychain. Isn’t it simple? Oh, really not.
Unfortunately, unlike most password managers, Safari does not allow you to import passwords from a CSV file. However, you can import passwords from Firefox or Chrome. If you have a CSV file from another password manager but don’t have any of those browsers enabled, you’ll need to download one of the first and then import your passwords. (Instructions for importing passwords into Chrome and Firefox can be found here.)
Once one of the other browsers has imported the passwords:
- Close the different browser
- Choose Chrome or Firefox from the File > Import From the menu in Safari. By checking the required boxes, you can import bookmarks, history, passwords, or any combination thereof.
One note: I was trying to import a series of mishaps from Firefox into Safari. Even after making a series of Firefox tweaks, Safari will still crash. Finally, with Chrome, I gave up and tried it and the import worked instantly. Maybe your mileage will vary.
Go to Safari’s top menu and select Safari > Preferences > Passwords to see if the import was successful. (To get to the password list, you’ll need to enter your user password.) Your passwords should be shown listed there.
Once you have imported your passwords into Safari, iCloud Keychain should pick them up automatically and they can be used across all of your approved devices. Using Spotlight Search, you can verify by typing and clicking ‘Keychain Entry.’ You can click on iCloud in the top-left column and “Passwords” in the bottom-left to see your imported passwords. That should pull up your Keychain app.