Future Safari 5.1 users: meet the new 1Password extension (Updated)

As a Mac user who doesn’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of this Lion thing Apple plans to release soon. Lion is quite a significant upgrade for Mac OS X, and with it Apple will introduce Safari 5.1, a major update for Lion and Snow Leopard users that brings lots of great new features and perks. Being the agile folks that we are, 1Password 3.6 for Mac is already prepared, but this isn’t just a compatibility nip here and a bug tuck there. We completely rewrote our Safari for Mac extension for Safari 5.1 in the name of usability, speed, cross-platform harmony, and bringing you faster updates.

One thing to keep in mind for now, though, is that as of this writing, our new Safari extension that supports Lion and Safari 5.1 on Snow Leopard is in beta. It’s pretty solid, but there of course may be quirks, bumps, and other odd behavior, so we welcome you to catch us in the AgileBits forums with ideas and bug reports.

Once you decide to upgrade to Lion or Safari 5.1 on Snow Leopard, you’ll be prompted to install our new Safari extension because it’s the only one that will work for you. And since Apple’s releases will soon be upon us, I figured it’s time you meet the new 1Password Safari extension.

Update: If the rest of this blog post isn’t enough for you, we’ve been busy preparing more documentation and FAQs to help you get up to speed with the new extension. Check out the right side of our 1Password FAQs for everything from a quick intro, to a list of keyboard shortcuts, and some common support tips.

Usability

Our new Safari extension is based on the redesign we introduced in our Chrome extension last November. Instead of just a browser button with a couple menus, the new interface offers a more powerful and flexible slice of 1Password right inside your browser. Whether you click the toolbar button or use the default keyboard shortcut of Command-\ to trigger our Safari extension, it appears as a window that floats above the top left corner of the current page, featuring tabbed sections for Logins, Identities, Credit Cards, and our Strong Password Generator. This puts the 1Password extension’s capabilities in the spotlight for all users and makes navigating around your data much, much more convenient. It also means you can now do things that haven’t been possible before from within a browser, such as view and copy 1Password item details and even review a Login’s password history.

Speed

Using 1Password via our new Safari extension is now much faster and more efficient whether you’re a mouse user or a keyboard ninja. Most of our customers build quite long, eclectic collections of Logins, but navigating a list of even a couple dozen items with a browser button menu can be clunky; you can lose your place or miss a sub-menu and have to re-do a lot of scrolling. You also can’t really search your items or view any extra information about them. With our previous extension, you’d have to stop what you’re doing, open 1Password, unlock it, then go searching for what you need. A key goal of our new extension is to give you instant access to more of your 1Password information right there in the browser so you don’t miss a beat.

By presenting your 1Password data with this new interface, we’ve made it much easier for mouse users to navigate their data, peruse long lists of items, check or copy an item’s details, and pick the proper item without dealing with finicky menus or losing one’s place. But if you fancy yourself a keyboard ninja, you can can now open the extension, navigate your Logins, Identities, and Credit Cards, view item details, and fill a form all without ever having to touch the mouse. Check out some of our keyboard shortcuts for navigating the Safari extension:

  • Command-\ – This has been the default keyboard shortcut for quite some time to open our extension in any browser. We haven’t changed it since it’s still a great place to start. It opens our new extension interface and displays any relevant logins for the current page
  • Command-Option-\ – Opens our extension and take you straight to the All Logins tab to search for a Login. After finding the Login you want, hitting Return will open the Login’s URL, fill in your credentials, and log you in
  • Tab – On the extension’s Logins tab, this switches between the “Logins for this site” tab and “All Logins” tab
  • Right arrow keyThis one is a pretty big deal! It gives you access to much more of your 1Password data inside your browser than ever before. It allows you to view the details of any selected Login, Identity, or Credit Card. Need to copy a password for a Flash site, double-check a Credit Card’s expiration date, or verify the info in an Identity? This is a great way to do it without having to drop what you’re doing and open the 1Password app. To get back to the item list, simply hit the left arrow key
  • Command-arrow keys – Navigates between tabs for Logins, Identities, Credit Cards, and the Strong Password Generator (for Chrome users it’s Command-1, 2, 3, and 4)
  • Escape – Hides the 1Password extension and go on about your business

Cross-browser compatibility

Without delving into too many technical details, our new extension isn’t just a pretty face—it’s actually a complete architectural rewrite. There are a number of advantages to this for our developers, but for you, dear 1Password user, this means improved form filling, more features, and faster updates. In fact, this new extension format allows us to update the extension without having to update the 1Password application—that means more frequent updates and a smoother update process for you. For example, Safari and Chrome allow extensions to update automatically.

On a grander scale though, this new architecture will eventually allow us to use much more of the same code across the browsers we support. That translates to less work for our developers when it comes to keeping pace with the break-neck development cycles of Chrome and Firefox, but more importantly: a consistent, powerful, and flexible user experience no matter which browser you’re using.

Moving forward

We have a lot planned for our new browser extension, including features to add and some great interface enhancements. We’re also still working on the Firefox version, so stay tuned on that front. Ditto for our Windows users.

We’ve had an incredible response to our new extension from Chrome users over the past year, our beta testers, and early Lion and Safari 5.1 users. We think the new Safari extension marks a huge improvement to 1Password integration with the browser, making your data more accessible, and letting you get in, get out, and get back to what you’re doing faster than ever before. But that’s enough about us—let us know what you think in the comments!

We'd love to hear your comments in our forum!