1Password and your software licenses

Most people know that 1Password is a great way to add security and convenience to web browsing, but not everyone has explored all of its capabilities. I thought I’d take a minute today and highlight one of the features I use the most (after password storage, of course): Software licenses.

I buy a fair amount of software, and mostly from independent developers who may not have a system set up to retrieve licenses should I lose them. I could manually write all of these down, or keep a spreadsheet/text file with all of them, but there are some good reasons to use 1Password.


First, in addition to the license key, you can keep a lot of “metadata” with each entry, including:

  • The application version
  • The name and email you registered under
  • The website you downloaded from
  • Date of purchase
  • Price
  • PO numbers

You can also include notes for any additional information. I use these to document older version registrations in case I need them to verify an upgrade path, and to store additional serial numbers if I got a double as part of a bundle. For me, that’s easier than having multiple entries and clearer in the long run.


Next, and one of my favorite features, is the ability to store attachments. When you’re editing an entry, there’s a large drop area at the bottom where you can drag in any kind of file you want and have it stored in your 1Password data file. This is great for applications which use a license file instead of a code, as I can just double click the attached file in 1Password and register an application immediately.

I use attachments on every entry to store related emails for each purchase, including receipts from the vendor and from PayPal, and any licensing information that was sent. Double clicking a stored email file will open it up in your email program. As a side note, Postbox (a great alternative to Mail.app) just updated recently to properly handle opening attachments from 1Password. Now, if Postbox is set as your default email client, even messages stored from Mail.app will open in Postbox, and vice versa.

Mac hint: if a vendor doesn’t provide an email with proof of purchase, you can print any checkout screen to a PDF and store it in your 1Password software entry. Just choose File > Print, and pull down the PDF menu in the lower left corner of the Print dialog. Choose “Save as PDF” and put it on your Desktop. When you add the new application to 1Password, just drag the PDF from your Desktop to the Attachments drop zone. You can then delete the PDF from your Desktop, since it’s now securely stored (with backups) in the 1Password library.

How to add a software license

  • Go to the Software section in the left sidebar
  • Use one of two methods to add the application
    1. Drag the application itself from Finder to the application list
    2. Use the plus button (+) to add the application manually (if the application is installed and you type in its name, the icon and version will be updated automatically)
  • Edit the appropriate data in the available fields. All fields are optional, but you probably want to fill in the serial number, the name and email you registered with, and check the purchase date box.
  • Drag any related emails or PDF files into the “Attachments” area in the lower portion of the edit window, and click the “Notes” area to type or paste any information (e.g. prior serial numbers from upgrades, additional license codes, etc.).
  • Click the “Save” button at the bottom to store the entry. You can always add and edit data in the entry by selecting it and clicking the “Edit” button.

Importing from other applications

1Password can also import existing databases from applications such as AppShelf and LicenseKeeper.

In 1Password, go to File->Import and select the application you’d like to import from. You’ll receive instructions in the import dialog for exporting from and syncing with the selected application. Follow the instructions and you can have your software licenses securely stored with the rest of your critical data, right in 1Password!

If you have your licenses stored in an unsupported application and would like to get them into 1Password, take a look at one user’s solution that we posted a while back.