PasswordWallet - A password management app

Jun 21, '05 01:27:00PM

Contributed by: robg

Password Wallet icon The macosxhints Rating:
7 of 10
[Score: 7 out of 10]

Note: This is the Pick of the Week for the week of June 13th.

For a long time, I've been looking for an application in which to store the literally hundreds of usernames, passwords, and software serial numbers. I had what I thought was a reasonably simple list of desired features: Sync with my Palm PDA, customizable categories, customizable templates, strong security, and a pleasant and easy-to-use interface. I've tried using Keychain Access, but there's no Palm sync, and I don't find the application particularly easy to use. So I downloaded every app I could find, and spent the last few weeks testing each of them. At the end, I can't say I found a hands-down winner, but I have grown to like PasswordWallet, though there's room for improvement...

My biggest complaint with most of the programs I tested (too many to list here) is that I found the interfaces needlessly complex for what should be a somewhat simple function, or they lacked Palm synchronization. In the end, it came down to a choice between PasswordWallet and DataViz's Passwords Plus. After using both for a while, I chose PasswordWallet for two main reasons. First, it's a true shareware package so you can test it out extensively (including Palm sync) before purchasing. Second, I found the interface easier to use. Passwords Plus has the advantage in the template department; they're customizable, whereas those in PasswordWallet are not -- I just used the Notes field to hold any miscellaneous data I wanted to store.

I found the data entry on PasswordWallet to be relatively straightforward, though for some reason, you can't use the Keyboard to get to the Category field (even with the Keyboard prefs panel set to allow tabbing to all controls). One nice feature is the ability to auto-type a username and password for you. Just highlight the entry, hit Command-Control-T for "auto type," hit Command-U to open the URL, then hold Option until you hear a beep. For sites like my bank, which prevent you from storing the username and password (for a good reason!), this is a nice timesaver. There are also small icons next to each entry for these tasks, if you prefer clicking the mouse. You can set auto-clear options for various things (locking the file, erasing the clipboard, hiding shown passwords, etc.), and each can be set to a different duration. Finally, a "live find" (type a few letters, and entries are highlighted as they match) makes it easy to find the record I'm looking for.

Beyond the annoyance of not being able to use the keyboard only for data input, I wish PasswordWallet would let me customize the categories. I also would like to assign a highlight color per category, but that cannot be done. Finally, though you can sort by Date Modified, you can't see that date in the main list view; you have to edit a record in order to see the modification date.

While not perfect, PasswordWallet is a strong password management application. I'm hoping some of the small annoyances get addressed in a future update, but I'll be paying my shareware fee later this week; having this data on my Palm has already saved me some time and aggravation. Note that if you want to sync with the Palm, you'll need to buy both the Mac and Palm versions of the program -- and you'll save $2.50 if you buy them together from the online store.

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