I’m really excited to announce a brand new way for 1Password to save and fill in browsers. It’s not a new feature, and chances are you won’t even notice it. It’s called native messaging, and it changes the way 1Password integrates with your browser. In fact, if you use 1Password with Google Chrome, you might already be using it.1
Native messaging makes the 1Password extension faster, more stable, and more compatible in more situations. It improves the performance and reliability of the 1Password extension, and it’s the end result of talking with thousands of 1Password users over the years.
Once upon a time…
When the 1Password extension made its debut for Chrome in 2012, the options for browser extensions to talk to apps were limited. We settled on an approach using WebSockets, which creates a network connection on your computer between 1Password and the browser. Although it’s technically a network connection, the data is only transmitted locally and never leaves your computer. This served us well in the vast majority of cases, but for a significant number people, this connection was unreliable. Proxies, antivirus, and other security software could interfere with the connection and prevent saving and filling. These conflicts caused a lot of pain, especially for Windows users. Over time, it became clear that we needed a better approach.
Enter native messaging
Thankfully, Google led the way and introduced that better approach. Native messaging is a more direct way for browser extensions to communicate with apps. Unlike WebSockets, it doesn’t rely on creating a network connection between your computer and itself.
With native messaging, no longer is Chrome’s connection to 1Password subject to the vagaries of your network and computing environment. No matter how you’ve configured your computer, if you can run 1Password and Chrome, then native messaging will work for you. Last year, we began the transition to replace WebSockets with native messaging. In order for 1Password to use native messaging, we needed to update the extension and the apps. So in April, we released a version of the 1Password extension for Chrome with support for native messaging. Since then, all current versions of 1Password for Mac and Windows have been updated to use the new technology.
What will change?
If you notice any changes, they should only be positive. Communication is nearly instant, and you’ll be able to use the extension as soon as you open your browser. Native messaging removes entire classes of problems that have affected 1Password users for a long time. Conflicts with network proxies and firewalls in corporate computing environments, ad blocking software, and even productivity tools that lock you out of distracting sites should be a thing of the past. Security software that gets spooked by local network connections should relax down from red alert. And many less common scenarios will work much better with native mesaging as well.
How do I get it?!
The first thing to do is check for updates in 1Password to make sure you’re using the latest version available. The latest releases of 1Password all include native messaging. We even updated 1Password 4 for Windows to make sure everyone can take advantage of this advancement on both Mac and Windows. 1Password has built-in support for Google Chrome and many other browsers based on Chrome, like Opera. If you’re using a supported browser, 1Password will switch to native messaging immediately.
Some Chrome-based browsers are supported but require additional configuration to work with native messaging. See our support article for more details.
Native messaging is the future for the 1Password extension. For now it’s supported in Chrome, but support will be coming soon to other browsers like Firefox and Edge. We’ll let you know when native messaging arrives on new browsers — and stay tuned for more posts about the 1Password extension. There’s a lot of exciting stuff going on that I can’t wait to share with you. For now, I’d love to hear your thoughts about native messaging in the comments, and you can always connect with me and the rest of the extension team in the forum.
- I will use Chrome as a shorthand for Chrome and browsers based on
Chromium such as Opera and Vivaldi throughout this post unless there are
specific differences to note. ↩