Apple recently released the first public beta of macOS Sonoma, the upcoming major update for macOS set to be available to all users this fall. One notable feature of this update is the ability for Mac users to utilize Apple’s password manager in third-party web browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Arc.
For those unaware, macOS already includes a built-in password manager that securely stores all passwords. Users can access it through system settings and view their stored passwords using their fingerprint or computer password. The advantages of using a password manager are numerous. It allows users to employ different, complex passwords for each website and service they have an account with. This way, in case of a data breach at any particular service, the user’s other online accounts remain relatively safe. They can simply change their password on the affected site and move forward.
Thanks to iCloud integration, if users store their passwords in Apple’s password manager, they will be synchronized across their other Apple devices such as iPhones or iPads. However, what if someone owns an iPhone but uses a Windows computer at work?
In 2021, Apple addressed this issue by releasing a Google Chrome extension for Windows called iCloud Passwords. Shortly after that, they followed up with a similar extension for Microsoft Edge. Unfortunately, these extensions were not compatible with macOS, meaning Mac users had to rely on Safari to take advantage of Apple’s password manager capabilities. Safari automatically fills out login information, generates new passwords when creating accounts, and saves them within Apple’s password manager.
However, as revealed by Ricky Mondello from Apple on Twitter, this limitation is about to change with macOS Sonoma. The company plans to bring the iCloud Passwords extension to Google Chrome on Mac. Since many web browsers are based on Chromium (the open-source project behind Google Chrome), they naturally support Chrome extensions. Consequently, it is expected that browsers like Arc and Brave will also support the iCloud Passwords extension on macOS Sonoma.
Moreover, Apple is actively working on porting the Microsoft Edge extension to macOS as well. However, there is currently no support for Mozilla Firefox, although it has been acknowledged as a user request.
The significance of a password manager accessible from any device will only increase in the near future as more websites begin offering passkey support. As an example, Gmail now allows users to sign in using a passkey instead of a traditional password. Passkeys are automatically generated by devices and stored securely. On macOS, they can be stored within Apple’s password manager and synchronized across all Apple devices.
It’s also worth noting that many Mac users have been relying on third-party password managers like 1Password. However, 1Password has shifted its focus towards enterprise customers and cross-platform compatibility. With Apple’s password manager becoming available in Google Chrome soon, individuals may consider transitioning from 1Password to Apple’s built-in solution. Additionally, shared passwords will be introduced with iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma.