Tips and Tricks: Password Autofill Now Supports 3rd Party Password Managers in iOS 12

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I vividly remember reading about Mat Honan, then of Wired Magazine, getting hacked by kids using social engineering tricks over six years ago. His entire digital life, including a laptop with family pictures that weren’t backed up, was wiped out in less than an hour. And all of that was just to hijack his three letter Twitter account (@mat) for the lulz. His pain and the expense of piecing things back together and getting data recovery done on a blank hard drive were a wake up call for me and many others. That kind of thing can happen to anyone, and you never know when an attack on your data will come.

Days after reading Mr Honan’s story back in 2012, I signed up for Dashlane. I looked into 1Password and LastPass, but Dashlane met my needs at the time and continues to do so today. I have been a premium paying customer for the last six years, and I have absolutely no regrets.

The only problem was how difficult Dashlane was to use a few years ago. The app itself worked just fine, and was constantly updated with the latest iOS features, such as TouchID and Face ID support, so no complaints there. The problem was that iOS had no support for looking up passwords in third party apps at first. That meant staying secure was a completely manual process:

  • Stop what you are doing when you get to a password screen.
  • Open Dashlane.
  • Enter the Dashlane password (thankfully, this was replaced with TouchID and Face ID later on).
  • Look up the account and copy the password.
  • Go back.
  • Enter the User Name or Email Address and Paste the Password.
  • Proceed.

However, despite the annoyance, I have stuck with using Dashlane and keeping separate strong passwords for every account I have. It’s the best way to keep yourself out of trouble, or at least isolate the trouble if one account does get compromised.

Things got a little better with app extensibility in iOS 8, but more for web passwords. Not so much for apps. Dashlane has tried to make progress, setting up an API that developers could take advantage of to allow their users to access passwords in their apps. Also, any app that exposed the Share Sheet icon on a password screen might allow Dashlane to work. Well, some of the time. it was still better than before, at least.

Apple has also greatly improved its own strong password recommendations and iCloud Keychain account storage over the years. If you are an all Apple, all the time user, this solution may negate the need for a separate password manager. However, I am a cross platform user, and that’s where the built-in option breaks down. I have stuck with Dashlane not only because it’s cross platform, but also because they notify me anytime there is a security breach of a site where I have an account. They will even automatically change some of your passwords for you on select sites. Now that’s good service.

As of today, all of the annoyance of using a password manager with iOS is now gone. In iOS 12, Apple has now given third party developers full access to their password lookup features. While the features were present in the beta, third party devs can’t update the release versions of their apps with new iOS features until OS release day. Now you can access and use this very handy new feature, once you enable it. Let’s get to it.

Head to Settings – Passwords and Accounts to get started.

Then select AutoFill Passwords.

Make sure AutoFill Passwords is Enabled, and then select your third party password manager of choice. Be advised that, even if you have a manager installed, you MUST come here and enable it for this to work. They are not enabled by default.

Now let’s take this for a spin. I am using my BesyBuy app as a test.

As you can see, when I tap on the Passwords icon to access AutoFill, I now get a new dialogue allowing me to choose where to get the password from. When I choose Dashlane, my email address and password are filled in, just as if I had selected iCloud Keychain.

If you don’t use a password manager, this new feature may have little to no significance for you. However, if you do, or if you are interested in moving to one, this feature finally makes using them quick, easy, and painless. It’s a good day to be secure.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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