I use OS X, Linux, Solaris and windows for work and from home. There are good tools that allow me to manage the many logins/passwords required platform independently. But mostly they expect me to carry a thumb-drive around or require direct access to a central location (a sky drive in the cloud).

The thumb-drive is too easily lost (= synchronized backup needed), the central location not always reachable/ mountable. Besides company policy rightly prevents this often.

Is there a tool that allows me to add passwords locally and then syncs it's DB with the "mother-ship" later. Or is there another approach that you use, that solves my problem?

EDIT My question is more about "synchronize" than cross platform. I've evaluated (=read feature list) some good cross platform tools, but need one that does the synchronizing for me. By synchronize I mean "merge two versions" not "replace (hopefully) old file with new." I'm not sure I'm always disciplined/awake enough to prevent data loss.

UPDATE 2010 Lifehacker just posted that AgileSolutions now have a beta version of 1Password for Windows.

UPDATE 2014 I've now been using 1Password on Windows/Os X/IOS for several years. It works for me, but it's not free/open.

You can look on http://Altenativeto.ne/1password for other tools with similar feature lists.

  • I've had the same problem for quite a while and I am actually thinking of building a solution from scratch that can be accessed from the web as well because I often find myself without a computer of my own, not wanting to install software just to access a password. – Darryl Hein May 4 '09 at 5:57

10 Answers 10


Try 1Password, there's a Mac and iPhone app available. Not cross platform, but if you have an iPhone then that will always be with you...

  • The latest edition of 1Password allows exporting an encrypted web page. I use this feature together with DropBox and the iPhone to make my password list visible/usable (DropBox) and editable (iPhone) from multiple locattions and systems. – lexu Feb 5 '10 at 5:32

Have you looked at KeePass at all? I find it works beautifully for me. It supports syncing with a password file that's hosted online, plus there are many other add-ins for it.

  • I'll look at the syncing, I must have missed that part when looking at it, thanks – lexu May 1 '09 at 6:31
  • 1
    Unless I am missing something, the sync tools are only available for the windows 1.x via a plugin, or windows 2.x client. Sync is not supported in the Linux/OSX ports. – Zoredache May 1 '09 at 8:34
  • I sync KeePass with Windows Live Sync, works pretty well, the odd conflict is renamed. – Christopher Galpin May 1 '09 at 15:47
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    i use dropbox to sync ... i just placed the whole directory of keypass, that way i can even download it when i need it on another computer. – Gabriel Solomon May 4 '09 at 7:03
  • I just tried out KeePass with Dropbox... what a perfect combination. +1 – Matt Hanson May 15 '09 at 3:38


Have you looked at Lastpass? It's amazing. There is no syncing required but it works just fine offline. They have support for Firefox via an add-in and support for other browsers via a Bookmarklet.

I have about 250 passwords stored in it and I can get to them from anywhere. They also support One Time Passwords should you need that level of security.

  • I love Lastpass as well. They're coming out with an iPhone version. And support for native OS password entry (outside of the browser). It currently works via addins but also bookmarklets. And they have a standalone app. And you can share passwords with others without sharing the actual password (I use this with my wife for common accounts). And they're adding Yubikey support. Long list. The auto-login feature is killer. – scobi May 13 '09 at 16:43

Joel Spolsky on his blog last year recommended Password Safe (Windows) and Password Gorilla (Mac and Linux) which can both read the same password file and were synced via Dropbox.

Dropbox will keep both files around in case of a conflict - in case that happens Password Gorilla will allow you to merge the two databases together.

Source: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/09/11b.html

  • By "sync" do you mean "merge two versions of the file into one" or "replace (hopefully) old with new file"? – lexu May 1 '09 at 6:23
  • Dropbox on sensing a conflict will keep both files and label them (in the filename) as conflicts for any type of file. Depending on the changes a VCS (version control system) such as Subversion or git may be the best choice for syncing and merging the changes. The downside is that it will require manual intervention at times (too much to use an automatic script depends on use) – Chealion May 1 '09 at 15:24
  • I've edited my original answer to reflect the above. – Chealion May 1 '09 at 16:53

People are going to recommend you Keepass, 2.0 specifically. They are wrong, and you should listen to me instead. Keepass is not yet the tool you want:

  • It's built on .NET, so getting it to work with your combination of Windows, Linux and OSX is a pain.
  • It's written by a single developer, with no particular schedule or incentive to fix bugs.
  • It only synchronizes over FTP and HTTP, because it's hard work and "the database is encrypted anyways." Nevermind the insanity of deploying FTP in 2009. You can find a plugin to sync via SFTP and a few others, but for the next problem.
  • Every upgrade changes the version and breaks all your plugins. Even a minor rebuild. I think it has to do with authenticated assemblies, but I'm not a .net expert.
  • Nonstandard format. Ideally KeePass is a clever UI to some common algorithms. Our previous system was a GPG file, which wasn't great for usability, but worked no matter the scenario. With KeePass, if KeePass is broke, you're hosed.
  • The sync is a lie. You will test it on your box, and it will appear to work. Then someone tries something you didn't and discover some changes won't propagate, like say moving an entry from one folder to another. This report was marked "missing feature, notabug".

What I recommend instead is choosing among the many formats and systems that handle everything you need except sync; even Keepass 1.x fits this bill. Then set up an SVN repo; there's no way you're changing it so often to need conflicting changes. If you screw up, you'll at least have a revision history to fall back on.

  • I agree ... I've installed it on my XP notebook .. but failed installing mono on my Ubuntu and Mac machines .. sad! – lexu May 29 '09 at 10:13

I use keepass / keepassx combined with an SVN+SSH repository on my home server. The solution isn't perfect since there really isn't a good way to deal with a conflict. To minimize the potential conflict issue I start keepass / keepassx from a script that does a svn update, runs keepass, and then immediately does a commit if needed.

http://keepass.info/ http://www.keepassx.org/

There is nothing special about svn, you could get the same behavior with any VCS.


What about Clipperz? The entire thing works online, so no need to use platform-specific clients, everything is encrypted quite strongly, you can save off-line copies and look at the sources of the whole thing...

  • from the website: "Clipperz is a free and anonymous online password manager. Local encryption within the browser guarantees that no one except you can read your data." => sounds good! – lexu May 29 '09 at 10:17

Password Gorilla

I use (Password Gorilla)[http://www.fpx.de/fp/Software/Gorilla/help.html].
It uses the same file format as (Password Safe)[http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/], which has Bruce Scheier's fingerprints all over it (a good thing).
I use the Gorilla on windows XP, Vista and on Ubuntu.



PasswordMaker generates unique, reproducible passwords locally using a single master password and the website url. All you have to remember is your master password; no syncing required. There is a firefox plugin, or you can use it standalone.


Password Safe with a centralized version control server should take care of this.

I've used password safe for a couple of years now, and it's great. Highly recommended.

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