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Moving from Windows to Mac what’s all this about passwords

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Thanks to Dave and John, they reminded me of all the hard things that Windows users face when they first move to the Mac. Both have new M1 MacBook Air. This is a blazing fast machine but it is definitely different from Windows. So here’s a quick starter guide on how to get there quickly.

Most of this is directly copied from a series of texts with John, so I have probably forgotten some things, but it is always good to have a new user help you remember what was obvious:

The Startup: Local Accounts

The first thing that is confusing is that when you get your bright shiny MacBook Air with Apple Silicon, the startup asks you to create a Computer Account. This is pretty confusing given the sea of Apple Accounts, 1Password logins and so forth. This is basically a legacy of the Unix world that MacOS is based on. The local machine has a set of users and passwords that are not related to your Apple account. You should create your user and local password and store it somewhere (like 1Password).

Later on you can actually login with your Apple ID and most of the time you will never need this local password again, but when the machine first starts up, it is not connected to the internet and will ask for this one.

1Password vs Apple Passwords vs nothing

There will I’m sure be more, but this startup stuff is confusing, but one big decision is what password manager you should use. Apple makes it super convenient (and free!) to have password management. What they are doing is really great because it is “zero knowledge”. That is Apple, itself, does not have the keys to your passwords. And it is nicely integrated with Touch ID and Face ID.

The main problem is that it is not going to work on Android or Windows (except that now there is an add-in for Chrome). So normally I’d say if you are going all in Apple and don’t want complexity, that you should use this.

But for most people with families and so forth, it is short term pain, but long term gain to use a system like 1Password. It does cost money, but (unlike say LastPass which is also great), it is zero knowledge as well, so you they don’t know your keys. It also allows you to share things with your family which is really convenient and simple.

The best of course is to use 1Password and then have Apple as a backup, but this does make things confusing when you see both pop up in Safari. It’s the way that I run so that I have some sort of backup.

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