Quicker sign-ons using the 1Password anchor

There are only a handful of software developers that never cease to impress. Having used 1Password for everyday things such as web browsing and online shopping since 2009, the relation the app goes to a personal level. It's almost like a dependency relation. I like it so much that I recommend it to friends, snap a copy on sale to gift and show it off whenever I have the opportunity to fill in a website form in front of a friend.

When you rely on a piece of software as much as I do with 1Password, you can't help but get a little nervous when a new release comes out. When version 4 for Mac launched I didn't like the new menubar companion. You needed to have running all the time if you wanted to use the Safari extension — up to that point I was using the app primarily on the web. Instead of hiding the icon and pretend it wasn't running as a startup item, I motivated myself to try it and make it work for me. It has taken a while but last week I found something brilliant I completely overlooked.

That inconspicuous anchor icon

Even if Fantastical uses the same visual metaphor for the same function, the anchor icon went completely unnoticed for months. This is used to anchor (duh!) a small window with the username and password for a given entry so it stays on any of the multiple windows you may have open on your desktop.

If you have the app running now, you can click on the key menubar icon, enter your password and see the compact version of the app that is 1Password mini. When you type the name of a website, let's say Twitter, the app immediately loads all the login items stored on 1Password for the matching text — a bit like Spotlight. Although you can click on the item itself to launch the associated URL on a new Safari window, you can also hover the cursor on the right side on the triangle to reveal the username and password stored. Using the example of the Twitter, this can be useful to log in to a Twitter client, for example, and not the website itself.

Clicking on one of the fields will copy it to the clipboard so you can paste it where you need. The problem is that you can only copy one at a time, username or password, and the app's interface disappears as soon as you click on it. Here's where this feature becomes really useful: clicking on the anchor icon (or any point other than the edit button) will keep the window sticky on the top of the desktop. Now you can copy both username and password in the same go without having to click on the 1Password mini icon and navigate to the login item you just opened.

As I mentioned before, I don't usually run into this kind of issue because I use 1Password from the Safari extension most of the time. The anchor in 1Password mini can be very useful for complex web forms such as checkouts with a lot of items and standalone apps. If you do some gaming on your Mac you will have already noticed how the Steam and Origin apps tend to forget your credentials over time, making the anchor method perfect for them.

Oh!, and if you were wondering, the other icons on my menu bar are (from right to left) Time Machine, ClipMenu, Fantastical, 1Password mini, Quicksand and Dropbox. I have another post on how I use the last two to backup automatically my work to the cloud, including some drawings I'm really proud of.