Feature Request: Login on Mac without Touch ID using iPhone Touch ID

It would be nice to add feature to login on any Mac by sliding notification on iPhone screen and than pressing Touch ID, or simply unlocking iPhone.

This would be the scenario:
1. I open 1Password on Mac (either from browser or standalone app).
2. Instead of typing password, i get notification on my nearby iPhone (sent via bluetooth) with some text like "Slide to unlock 1Password on your Mac".
3. I get 1Password unlocked without need to enter any text password.

For me this would be very appreciated to avoid typing master password over and over. Also since this days everybody talks about new Mac Book Touch ID, this would be something to satisfy also big number of Mac users who will use previous Mac Books, iMacs or other Apple computers.

1Password Version: Not Provided
Extension Version: Not Provided
OS Version: Not Provided
Sync Type: Not Provided


  • brentybrenty 1Password Alumni

    @passenger: Indeed, that would be a sweet feature! Unfortunately Apple doesn't offer a way to "synchronize" Touch ID information between devices securely — or at all. So unless Apple adds something like that in the future themselves, we're on our own when it comes to finding a way to implement a feature like that; whereas Apple has added frameworks for developers to use Touch ID and Touch Bar on macOS. Interoperability just isn't an option.

    It would certainly be preferable to have an option that worked for more people, with Touch ID on various devices, not just those with a brand new MacBook Pro (and presumably others in the future). I'd love that myself. But in this case, Apple is providing hardware, software, and developer tools to only allow Touch ID on these Macs and iOS devices, and not between them.

    The reason Touch ID is something we can get behind on iOS is because it's built in to the security model on the deepest levels using the Secure Enclave and supported by native APIs. With Touch ID on Macs, Apple is doing the same, with hardware similar to that used on our iOS devices to provide secure biometric functions. No other Macs have that, and it isn't something 3rd party vendors can add. Only Apple can. And again, this data never leaves the device, so it cannot be leveraged on others.

    This is why using and iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock 1Password on a computer is problematic, and why we haven't done so yet: How can we securely store a shared secret that the two devices can use to authenticate each other, which cannot be compromised? Since the iPhone 5S, it's been possible to store a secret in the iOS Keychain which is unlocked only using Touch ID, and authenticated with the Secure Element. With Touch ID Macs, this is similarly possible. But in every other case, this is so far a real problem without a good solution. Hopefully we'll be able to come up with something, but it's a much bigger problem to make it bulletproof without hardware and frameworks to support it.

    I really love thinking about this though, because it's a feature I'd love to use myself. And I suspect I'm not the only one here at AgileBits that feels this way. I'd love an excuse to buy a new MacBook Pro, but that's generally a "maybe next year" thing for me. Thanks for sharing your passion for this feature as well. Perhaps it's something we can do someday. :)

  • @brenty Thanks for taking your time to provide so detailed answer. I really appreciate that 1Password listen what customers have to say.

    It still could work I think. You would not need to "synchronize" Touch ID between iPhone and Mac, you should only use info that Touch ID auth on iphone is passed, so in that case 1Password on iPhone could send some kind of token to 1Password on Mac and say "use this instead of master password".
    I think that transfering this via bluetooth can be safe enough.

    Here's Knock use it to login on Mac using iPhone:

    Knock doesn't replace your password, and Knock doesn't modify or replace any of your Mac's built in security features. During pairing, your Mac generates a 1024-bit RSA key pair and sends the public key to your iPhone via Bluetooth LE. It also generates a 256-bit AES private key. Your password is then encrypted on your Mac using the AES key, and the encrypted result is transmitted via Bluetooth LE to your iPhone and stored there on the iPhone’s keychain. The AES private key for your password is stored on your Mac. It never leaves the Mac.

    So to sum up, i don't suggest to use Touch ID data between devices, but to use Touch ID on iPhone as validation to send info to Mac that login is successful. That would make sense only if iPhone user already have Touch ID login on iPhone enabled, otherwise, there is no reason to type master password on iPhone in order to unlock 1Password on Mac.

    This is just idea I got this days when Touch ID on Mac is introduced, and if you still think it's not best way to go, I will trust you since you have much better insight about your product.


  • brentybrenty 1Password Alumni
    edited November 2016

    @passenger: Thanks for following up, and clarifying some of your points for me! I think it's still too soon to "call it" and say it's impossible. I suspect that there may be a good way of doing it, perhaps also using public-key cryptography. But it's also important for us to keep in mind that 1Password is probably held to a higher standard than other 3rd party apps like Knock — and arguably should be. That's not to disparage their work, but rather a recognition that we keep our most sensitive information in 1Password. So we want to be absolutely certain that any alternative unlock features we might add do not make our data vulnerable in any way. Thanks for bringing this up!

  • How does the solution @passenger suggests compare to universal copy & paste? (Safety wise)

    Currently it is possible to open 1Password via Touch ID on your iPhone, select the 1Password password (if you stored that within 1Password) and copy/paste it to a different iOS (and maybe Mac) device via universal copy & paste to unlock 1Password on that second device (which might not have Touch ID).

  • brentybrenty 1Password Alumni

    How does the solution @passenger suggests compare to universal copy & paste? (Safety wise)

    @XIII: As always, the implementation is what matters. While not everyone is comfortable with this in the first place (though, if you don't trust Apple, I'm not sure it makes sense to use their products), it will almost certainly not be "secure" if the machine is compromised. That applies both to anything we do in this area, and also what Apple is doing with the Universal Clipboard feature. Clipboard is clipboard, after all.

    Currently it is possible to open 1Password via Touch ID on your iPhone, select the 1Password password (if you stored that within 1Password) and copy/paste it to a different iOS (and maybe Mac) device via universal copy & paste to unlock 1Password on that second device (which might not have Touch ID).

    The way that Apple does this right I feel is in encrypting communications, and only sending this between devices locally, rather than out over the internet. Universal Clipboard does not work unless the devices are in relatively close physical proximity.

    I don't know if this was your intention, but you just made an excellent point, albeit not explicitly: Perhaps there's a way to leverage Continuity (which Universal Clipboard and Handoff are a part of) to do something like this between 1Password for iOS and 1Password for Mac. It isn't something that Apple allows, strictly speaking, but it may be that we can find a way to do something similar. Here's to cautious optimism. ;)

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