One of the design goals of Secrets is to make your data accessible to you as quickly and transparently as possible, especially when you encounter authentication forms on web pages. Secrets provides two alternative methods to facilitate this: browser extensions and support for the native Password AutoFill feature.
While these methods offer similar functionality, there are some differences between them.
Since its initial version, Secrets has provided a browser extension to quickly fill login or payment forms on web pages. You can use the browser extension in Safari and many other browsers. Refer to the "Browser extensions" page to learn how to install them on your preferred browser.
The browser extension is designed to be simple, acting as a facilitator between the browser and Secrets. This design choice is driven by two reasons:
- Only the main Secrets application should handle your data and act as the gateway for it.
- You should only need to enter your passphrase in the main application and not anywhere else.
The extension only has access to your data (e.g., login or credit card information) after you explicitly authorize it in Secrets by clicking the "Fill" button. Whether you are running Secrets locally or using Remote Access, the data is always transmitted securely between Secrets and the extension.
Now let's consider the pros and cons of browser extensions.
- Works in web browsers other than Safari, like Chrome of Firefox (even on Windows or Linux with "Remote Access").
- Can fill both Logins and Credit Cards.
- Not available on iOS or iPadOS.
- Only works in browsers and not in other apps.
To enable Password AutoFill, you need to go to the system settings. The easiest way to find this setting is to search for "AutoFill" in either System Preferences (macOS) or Settings (iOS, iPadOS).
Once enabled, Secrets will give you the option to enable Password AutoFill suggestions in its settings. Enabling suggestions allows Secrets to share usernames and website URLs with the system, which can provide suggestions on the QuickType bar (iOS, iPadOS) or in a context menu (macOS) when needed.
Now let's consider the pros and cons of Password AutoFill.
- Works in both Safari and other apps.
- Works on macOS, iOS and iPadOS.
- Does not support filling Credit Cards.
- Does not work in other browsers.
Which one should you use?
On iOS or iPadOS, your only option is to use Password AutoFill. On macOS, if you're using a web browser other than Safari, your only option is the browser extension. However, if you're using Safari on macOS, you have the choice to use both the extension and Password AutoFill.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. You can even have both options enabled at the same time. Personally, I prefer using the extension and disabling the automatic filling of "Usernames and passwords" in Safari's settings while still keeping Password AutoFill enabled in System Preferences. This allows me to fill logins and credit cards using the extension and use Password AutoFill for other apps1.
At the time of writing, support for Password AutoFill on macOS in third-party apps (and even some first-party apps) is somewhat limited. If you encounter an app that does not support it, consider reaching out to the developer to let them know. ↩