About iCloud changes in 1Password 5

iCloud borderless iconOne of the big changes in 1Password 5 for Mac and iOS is a brand new iCloud sync engine. This change is a huge, order-of-magnitude-improvement over what we had in 1Password 4, but it came at a cost. I would like to explain how we arrived at this decision.

Mac App Store and AgileBits Web Store

There are two versions of 1Password for Mac. One is available on the Mac App Store and the other is in our own AgileBits Store. For the most part, these two versions are identical. One major difference is that Mac App Store version of 1Password is sandboxed to satisfy the store requirements. Another big difference is the access to iCloud features. Starting with 1Password 5, only apps downloaded from iOS or Mac App Stores have access to iCloud.

Hey Siri, define “iCloud”

“iCloud” is a name that covers many different services and technologies. This umbrella name makes it difficult to talk about iCloud.

For Mac and iOS users, iCloud could mean:

  • Services that keep track of your iTunes Movies and Music purchases
  • Services that keep your application data and iPhone backups
  • iCloud.com
  • And more: apple.com/icloud

For developers, iCloud could mean:

  • a low-level API that is used to read and write files to the local iCloud container folders
  • a document-based API that is used to store documents for apps like TextEdit or Preview
  • an API for apps using Core Data framework
  • new CloudKit API
  • More information is here: developer.apple.com/icloud/index.html

1Password 4 was using the low-level API tied to the local iCloud container folder. It is similar for both Mac App Store and iOS apps. Because the local container folder was available to all apps on Mac, our Web Store version of 1Password could also use iCloud for syncing.


Here is a short history of iCloud and 1Password:

  • 2011: iCloud introduced in iOS 5
  • 2012: iOS includes many fixes and new APIs in iCloud. 1Password 4 for iOS 6 (finally!) adds support for iCloud
  • 2013: 1Password 4 for Mac is out with iCloud support
  • 2014: iCloud gets completely re-implemented and reintroduced as CloudKit and iCloud Drive.
  • One-time migration of user data is performed when upgrading to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. 1Password 5 for Mac and iOS now use CloudKit

1Password 4 and iCloud

From the developer’s perspective, the original iCloud was pure magic. To sync with iCloud, the “only” thing that the app had to do was to save its files into a special folder and the operating system took care of the rest. The files were magically transferred between all computers and devices.

When the magic worked it was great. When it didn’t, it could be frustrating because there was no way to tell why.

Over time, after dealing with the problems we “learned” and made defensive changes in the app. For example, after initially syncing to iCloud, 1Password would show a message that the data will be available on other devices “in a few minutes”, even though we had no way to tell when it would actually happen. If you were setting up a new device and downloading a lot of data, it would take hours for your 1Password data to appear.

1Password was not the only app affected by iCloud issues:

There is no doubt that these issues triggered a major change in iCloud and the introduction of iCloud Drive and CloudKit. Unfortunately, it seems that iCloud Drive might have inherited some of the issues.


In 2014, Apple announced CloudKit, available exclusively to apps in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. It is a simple and elegant network API that allows apps to store data remotely on Apple servers. The biggest difference from iCloud is that there is no magic. Instead of writing the files locally and then waiting for them to magically appear on other devices, the app simply makes a request to update its data on the server. It does require developers to write more code, but the end result is a hundred times better.

CloudKit is very fast, efficient, and makes it easy to detect and troubleshoot errors. CloudKit is predictable. 1Password now knows if the item was successfully updated on the server and is available to other devices. If the operation fails, the app now gets a detailed error message explaining why it happened, be it a network error, a downed server, no space available, or the user was rate-limited.

We don’t have to guess when something goes wrong anymore, and we no longer have to tell our users to perform a set of magic steps hoping that some of them would trigger iCloud to work. CloudKit solved the problems we had with the old iCloud.

Other advantages of CloudKit include:

  • CloudKit stores data as records instead of files. It allows apps to perform partial record fetches and updates that make syncing more efficient and do not force dowloading or uploading an entire file.
  • Remote CloudKit database supports queries that allow 1Password perform syncing faster compared to scanning a directory of files.
  • CloudKit supports “server change tokens”. They are used by 1Password to quickly test for changes made on other devices.
  • 1Password on both Mac and iOS uses CloudKit Remote Push Notifications to perform syncing almost instantly when a change made on a remote device or Mac.
  • CloudKit provides a special record asset type (CKAsset) that is used to sync large attachments.

All these features made a huge difference. We tested CloudKit integration in early betas of 1Password 5 and we immediately became very excited about it. After using CloudKit in the beta for several weeks, we decided it is the best way for 1Password to support iCloud sync.


I hope this explains why we made a decision to switch to CloudKit. The performance and reliability of CloudKit, combined with issues of the old iCloud sync, made it impossible for us to not use CloudKit in 1Password 5.

143 replies
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    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Hi Bertrand,

      You’re right, Dropbox allows you to access your files from the web, which enables you to access your data using 1PasswordAnywhere.

      Data uploaded using CloudKit (the new iCloud API we’re using in 1Password 5), on the other hand, is not available from a website and therefore 1PasswordAnywhere is not supported there. This is no different than the original iCloud; it’s simply the same way it’s always been with iCloud.


      –Dave Teare
      AgileBits Founder

    • chris foley
      chris foley says:

      Dear Mr. Shiner

      I purchased this from your store for my entire family a few years ago and appreciate the product. The problem I have is that I now am required to spend nearly $200.00 to repurchase for four (4) family members for an Apple App Store version to maintain iCloud sync. I understand the business decisions involved, but alienating clients that funded your early development is not he way to go about it. As I’m sure you’ve already gotten some negative feedback, surly more will follow. As the CEO of a major US healthcare company I can tell from my experience chasing the money is not always the best approach…

      I noticed the attempt to spin the story on your web in that it was always a workaround. Then why did you sell it on your web store in the first place? I surmise it was always the intent Agile-bits to move to an exclusive Apple App Store product (blaming Apple’s security requirements), further this was a cleaver means to fund initial development until such time it would be a more integrated part of Apple App Store. Also, by cutting out your initial customers and only supporting Apple App Store purchases for features such as iCloud sync (and we both know the next release will likely term all prior versions from fully functioning), you remove that ongoing expense of supporting two technologies lay the ground work for a potential acquisition of Agile-bits by Apple. If you agree or not, the facts can be clearly substantiated. No matter how you attempt to spin it, you sold people a fully functioning version of software, then removed some features and capabilities in order to further a broader relationship. Your call to be sure, but I doubt it would stand up to broader scrutiny.

    • Daniel
      Daniel says:

      This answer is simple…

      We use one Business Account (1TB) Dropbox in our company (4 Employees) for sharing documents and all 4 have an own 1Password installed and 1Password couldn’t sync 4 different databases via 1 Dropbox.

      And now with 1Password 5 we all lost our synchronisation.

    • Ian
      Ian says:

      I am using multiple vaults with Dropbox, and each vault has its own .agilekeychain file. Perhaps someone with more experience could weigh in here, but I think it should be possible for several users to each have their own vault using the same Dropbox business account.

    • roustem
      roustem says:

      Hi Glenn,

      Since you just made a purchase in our store, we might be able refund it. That would let you make a purchase in the Mac App Store, if you wish.


    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      I’m sorry for the trouble, Glenn.

      During development of 1Password 4, we found that iCloud syncing worked fine for our webstore version and we made the mistake of leaving it enabled in the final release. We worried a little bit that this might change in the future so we mentioned in a few places that “if iCloud was important to you that you should purchase from the Mac App Store to ensure it remains available”, but in retrospect, it was way too easy to miss this warning. We should have simply hid iCloud in the non-Mac App Store version of 1Password entirely and we would have avoided this entire problem.

      I’m sorry we didn’t hid or disable iCloud in the webstore version of 1Password 4.

      Now that we’re here, we need to find a way forward. Unfortunately I cannot give you a free copy of the Mac App Store version as we’re limited to a very small set of coupons, so we cannot go that route. Another option would be to switch to Dropbox syncing. You can sign up for free account with up to 2GB of free space, so it won’t cost you anything. Here’s a guide for OS X on how to switch to Dropbox:


      There’s also a corresponding guide for iOS:


      I hope this helps. Again, I’m sorry for the trouble and confusion.

      –Dave Teare
      AgileBits Founder

    • adamelisha
      adamelisha says:

      I’m sorry but this is getting more frustrating every day. Two days ago you repeatedly wrote on the forum that those of us with Agile webstore editions of version 5 would NOT have to pay once again for the software and a creative solution would be determined. Again, please correct me if I’m incorrect, but you assured us customer service would take care of everything, and not to worry…just send an email with original invoice and all would be okay. Repeatedly, other employees stated one must only contact customer support who would “promptly make sure we were taken care.”
      I have yet to receive a response to my email sent the day this was announced.
      Please correct me if I misinterpreted your post, but it sounds like you’re now saying tough luck…switch to Dropbox and best of luck.
      As a someone who’s been a supporter of Agilebits for so long, and even took pride in the fact fellow Torontonians were making such terrific software…well it seems like that same company, that talks constantly about how crucial their long-term supporters have been to the growth of Agile. Keep in mind, most of us specifically went to the agile webstore to ensure you received 100% of our money, not 70% following the cut Apple takes on the mac store. We went out of our way to purchase the upgrade at the website out a desire for you and all your colleagues to receive the compensation they deserve.
      In my eyes, the fact that this has not even been addressed both saddens and angers me. The very base that has stood by Agile are now the ones told tough luck.
      I urge you to reconsider your position and find a way to properly transition those of us in the “webstore team” who feel Agile has not lived up to their responsibilities.
      Thank you,
      Adam Elisha, D.O.

    • Chris Meek - AgileBits
      Chris Meek - AgileBits says:

      Hi Adam,

      I’m really sorry for all the trouble – I completely understand your frustration. We are pretty overwhelmed with emails at the moment, which is causing a bit of a backlog. We are working as hard as we can to get on top of things.

      What is the support ID you were given?

    • frogking
      frogking says:

      Im in the same boat here. I am quite upset that there was NO warning that functionality I paid for would suddenly be lost. I sent an email on October 18th and still no reply. QTP-64116-271

    • Nick
      Nick says:

      Thanks for your response Dave, however it doesn’t really change the fact that there has been a massive customer experience stuff up here. The best practice solution would be to just wear the financial pain and somehow find a way to migrate all web-store users over the the Mac App Store. I’d like to thing that this would pay for itself in the long run from more satisfied customers, however it appears you are taking the short sighted path.

      As a ‘web store’ user, I’m going to have to go down the Dropbox route. Can someone please explain what the differences are between the iCloud and Dropbox syncing implementations? Given all the praise heaped on the new iCloud feature, I get a little worried that I’m using a far inferior syncing solution.

    • Nick
      Nick says:

      Thanks but I have already sent an email several days ago but received no response. As far as solutions go, the only one is really a free transfer across to mac store version, which your company’s founder has already said is off the cards in multiple posts.

    • Vadym Osadchuk
      Vadym Osadchuk says:

      I also want to switch to AppStore version. I sent email 3 days ago, got response from robot and then nothing. my tciket #KNM-88634-325
      Could you please help me. Thanks

    • simon
      simon says:

      I wrote you an email concerning the same topic almost two weeks ago…are we all supposed to comment here in order to receive an answer? #LBR-93198-493

    • Bill
      Bill says:

      Please note that I also have sent 4 emails for support with no response. I purchased the product (both Mac and the IOS versions) on 10/21/14 but immediately found out the difference between the web version so the same day I emailed for a refund – no response. The “bot” response ID is #PDG-61846-485. I have used eWallet for over 5 years, but unsure now if the decision to move to 1Password was a good one…

  1. Shigeya Suzuki
    Shigeya Suzuki says:

    Question (since I really don’t want to mess-up my 1Password records..). I have two machines using iPassword 5 (via AppStore) and iPad and iOS, syncing via Dropbox. What is the safest steps to switch everything to iCloud?

  2. Dennis
    Dennis says:

    What does this mean for people who use 1Password in a multi-platform environment?

    At the moment I use Dropbox Sync with 1Password 4 on my MBP, 1Password 4 on my iPhone and 1Password 4 on my Windows work Thinkpad. Can I upgrade to 1Password 5 with iCloud syncing without breaking this or can I use both syncing methods in parallel to keep everything in sync with Windows?

    Thanks for all the info. I’m looking forward to installing Yosemite + 1P 5 and exploring the new features.


    • Shiner
      Shiner says:

      Hi Dennis,

      For people in a multi-platform environment like yours, Dropbox continues to be an excellent choice, and will allow you to sync between your Mac, Windows and iOS devices.

      As you are currently syncing your Mac through Dropbox on 1Password 4, upgrading to Yosemite and 1Password 5 should allow you to continue syncing through Dropbox with no changes.

      Enjoy exploring Yosemite and 1Password 5 when you upgrade!


  3. Nick
    Nick says:

    As a long-time user of 1password (I assume long before it was available in the app store as I never realized this was even an option until now) I am not happy about this. Very not happy.

  4. justme
    justme says:

    I emailed inquiring about how to resolve this since I bought 1Password from the webstore. Still waiting on a response.

    ALSO: I notice that the webstore still has no warning or disclaimer that the version you are about to buy has *limited functionality* and does not possess the full feature set that is advertised. Please fix this so that more people don’t make this mistake and find out too late that they’re not buying the full version.

  5. Niels Dillen
    Niels Dillen says:

    I really like the implementation that you guys did in the new 1password. It’s the best version of the app ever :-) no need to explain!

  6. Markus
    Markus says:

    Well, I can understand the technical advantages of Cloudkit and I want to use it too, at least for the future.
    But I am stuck for years now in the web-store-version…
    You see what I mean? I am a long time customer and now you are asking exactly these people to pay once again for the new features. Sorry, but I don´t like this politics.

    • Bernhard de Kok
      Bernhard de Kok says:

      Same here, I bought 1Password from the beginning, paying for each and every upgrade. Now you want me to pay AGAIN for exactly the same version I’ve already got? So much for loyalty.

    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      I am sorry for the trouble, Markus. It sounds like you were having a great experience with iCloud up until now and the move the CloudKit is the first bad taste you’ve experienced. If everyone had experiences like yours we would have been more than happy to keep the old iCloud implementation. Sadly this was not the case so we needed to invest a great deal of effort to rewrite and test the new CloudKit syncing.

      The most frustrating part is I would love to give you and Bernhard and everyone else who purchased the webstore version a free copy of the Mac App Store version but it is not a feature offered by the App Store at this time. I wish this wasn’t the case but the only way to do this would be to change to a freemium model and implement our own licensing server. We might do this in the future just to enable this flexibility, but it would be a huge change so it wouldn’t be happening anytime soon, if ever.

      Again I am truly sorry we left iCloud enabled in the webstore version of 1Password 4. We should have disabled it entirely. That’s my bad for being too optimistic. I’m sorry.


    • Markus
      Markus says:

      Hello Dave,
      I don´t understand it: Chris Meek is answering to all people “Please send us an email and we’ll get everything straightened out for you.” and you are telling me “I´m sorry.”
      So what is the official answer of AgileBits now?

    • Josh
      Josh says:

      That’s still super vague. Are you guys going to be able to transfer people from the store-bought version to the MAS or not? Yes or no?

      I understand you guys are sorry, I really do – it must suck to be in the place you’re in. But it’s not enough to just say “sorry” and expect everyone to sit quietly about it.

      Thank you so much for being kind and professional about all this, but as customers paying $50+ for software, I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect a straight answer from Agile Bits.

  7. Ricardo
    Ricardo says:

    I am a 1Password customer since 2008. Always paid a new licence if necessary. And Now?! I can’t use all features of the App who I have paid for, expect I bought a new licence in the Mac App Store? Serious? That sucks! That it’s a shame!

    Can I have a refund of my licence bought in your web store, to repurchase 1Password from the Mac App Store?! Or maybe a free copy of the Mac App Store version via coupon code?

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