What Is iCloud Keychain & How To Set It Up On iOS

Released after Apple’s event came to an end yesterday, iOS 7’s third incremental update, iOS 7.0.3, brought with it long-awaited fixes for iMessage and certain UI animations that seem to have been triggering nausea in users. The star of the update, however, was the inclusion of iCloud’s ‘Keychain’ sub-feature that was announced for iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks earlier this year. In what follows, we explain what Keychain is and how you can set it up on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

What Is Keychain?

Keychain is essentially Apple’s version of LastPass or Dashlane for OS X and iOS variants of Safari. It is an encrypted, cross-platform online vault that syncs saved passwords and credit card information (barring the security code) across devices for faster browsing and online transactions. Apart from the encryption, it reinforced by a couple of added security measures to prevent your passwords from landing into the wrong hands.

Still, if you don’t feel as confident as Apple when it comes to the security of your data, you don’t have to use this feature. In fact, it is disabled on both Mac and iOS by default. If, however, you love the idea of not having saved passwords synced between devices, scroll down to learn how to enable Keychain on iOS.

How To Enable iCloud Keychain On iOS

The setup is quite simple. You’ll need to allow Safari to save passwords and/or credit card info from sites first, of course. To do so, navigate to Settings > Safari > Passwords & AutoFill and enable required options.

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Once you’re done with that, head back to the main menu of the Settings app, and then to iCloud > Keychain. You’ll find a toggle on the screen that follows. Enable that, enter your Apple ID password, and you’ll be asked to create a security code.

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Now, you can choose to skip creating an iCloud Security Code from the ‘Advanced Options’ below, but know that it is the only way to enable iCloud Keychain on more devices. When you set up Keychain on a new device, you will receive a notification on one of your Keychain-enabled devices, asking you to approve the connection using your Security Code.  Also, if you happen to lose all your devices, this code will help you recover your Keychain.

Apart from a 4-digit PIN code, you have the option to create a more complex, secure password or have iOS generate one for you from within Advanced Options. Remember to note it down somewhere. There is no way to recover a lost Security Code.

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After you’ve set your PIN or password, you’ll be asked to select your country code and enter your phone number in the screen that follows. Remember, this is prepares an alternative solution for when you don’t have access to one or more of your Keychain-enabled devices to approve setting up Keychain on a new one, so you should choose the number of a trusted phone other than your own Keychain-enabled iPhone.

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Once all that is done, whatever password or credit card info you save within Safari will be synced across all your Keychain-enabled devices. In Mobile Safari, you’ll find the AutoFill option right above the keyboard when you begin entering credentials on sites with saved passwords. To delete existing passwords individually or in bulk, head on over to Settings > Safari > Passwords & AutoFill > Saved Passwords and hit ‘Edit’.

  • thuya199

    cross-platform? can i use keychain in android?

    • Nope. Just between iOS and Mac for now. It doesn’t come packed with the iCloud Control Panel for Windows, and as Nick pointed out, there’s no Safari/iCloud for Android.

      • Ammar Malik

        In OS X Mavericks Pakistan isn’t listed as a country for sending code via SMS. What to do then?!

  • Nick

    Do you have safari in Android mr thuya? No. You don’t you can’t