icloud keychain logo

With recent updates to Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS brought with it iCloud Keychain, which keeps track of your various account usernames and passwords for you so that you only have to remember one password, instead of dozens.

After you set up your iPhone or iPad for the first time, you were probably prompted to set up iCloud Keychain. Perhaps you chose to wait until later. Perhaps you did activate it on your iPhone, but not on any other compatible device. What next?

We have a short how-to guide to help you set up iCloud Keychain on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac for the first time, as well as how to connect the password keeper across all devices, including Macs running macOS.

Setting up iCloud Keychain for the first time

Step 1: Go to Settings, tap on your profile at the top, then tap on iCloud > Keychain. You will most likely be prompted to enter your Apple ID password.

Step 2: Toggle the switch On.

Step 3: You will be required to create an iCloud Security Code. You can use the same code as your iPhone passcode, or create a different one. For this tutorial, we will use the same as iPhone passcode. You will need to remember this code, as well as your Apple ID password.

set up icloud keychain password

Step 4: When prompted, type in a phone number that will be able to receive SMS messages when you need to activate a new device. I used my iPhone since I always have it with me.

Adding a device to sync with iCloud Keychain

You can add your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to the iCloud Keychain and all of your account and password information will be synced across all devices. You can also set up iCloud Keychain in OS X.

Adding a device to iCloud Keychain on iOS:

Step 1: On the other device you want to use iCloud Keychain with, go to Settings > iCloud > Keychain, and enter your Apple ID password.

Step 2: Toggle the switch On.

Step 3: Tap “Restore with Security Code” and enter the password you created when setting up iCloud Keychain for the first time (it may be your iPhone password).

icloud keychain security code

Step 4: An SMS message will be sent to the phone number that you added for activating a new device. When you receive the text, enter the six-digit verification code.

enter icloud verification code

Note: In my experience, a message automatically popped up on my iPhone when I activated iCloud Keychain on my iPad. The pop up message asked me to approve the device by entering my Apple ID. I did not need to enter the passcode or wait for the six-digit verification code to be sent to my iPhone.

Adding a device to iCloud Keychain on Mac:

Step 1: Go to Apple Menu > System Preference > iCloud.

Step 2: Select Keychain.

Step 3: Set a password to unlock your screen after sleep or skip this step.

Step 4: Enter your Apple ID and password.

Step 5: Enter the passcode you created when setting up iCloud Keychain.

Mac enter icloud security code

Step 6: An SMS message will be sent to the phone number that you added for activating a new device. When you receive the text, enter the six-digit verification code.

Syncing iCloud Keychain with Safari

Now that all of your devices are using iCloud Keychain, you can start using it with Safari and it will automatically save usernames, passwords, and credit cards info that you enter in various websites. If you’ve been using Safari’s keychain feature all along, all of the passwords you previously saved will now be available on all devices.

Syncing iCloud Keychain with safari on Mac:

Syncing iCloud Keychain with safari on Mac

Step 1: With the Safari browser open, select Safari Menu > Preferences > AutoFill

Step 2: Select all categories you wish to be saved and used in Safari’s AutoFill service.

Syncing iCloud Keychain with safari on iPhone or iPad:

Step 1: Settings > Safari > AutoFill.

Step 2: Select all categories you wish to be saved and used in Safari’s AutoFill service, including Names and Passwords, as well as Credit Cards.

Safari iOS autofill

Now your devices, including your Mac, will all be connected and your various passwords will be saved in iOS and macOS so you can have immediate access to everything, including credit card information, from whereever you are.

Do you use a password keychain app like 1Password? Will you switch now that Apple offers a similar service for free?

  • I wish they’d bring some kinda version of this to Windows to sync as well, but I doubt it will happen. Stuck w/ KeePass for now.

  • Carlos Cedeno

    This would be a great way to implement the fingerprint sensor. I’m getting really tire of just using it to unlock my device.

  • MarkDavidGerson

    I played a bit with iCloud Keychain but decided, in the end, that I still prefer 1Password. My password info seems too vulnerable on my Mac with iCloud Keychain implemented, unless I require a passcode to wake my laptop up from sleep, which is too big a hassle, given that I’m on my computer all the time. 1Password’s “master password” request after an hour of inactivity is simpler and, if I’m not going to require a wake-up password, more secure. Also, on very rare occasions when I have to use a different browser, it’s nice to have password access through the 1Password extension.

    • I am currently a 1Password user as well. I’ve been slowly moving passwords over to iCloud Keychain to see if it is better. So far, I prefer the convenience of 1Password.

  • ConduciveMammal

    See, I tried using the Suggest Password feature of iOS iCloud Keychain but found it a hassle since I didn’t actually know my password so without using my iPhone/iPad, I couldn’t log in to anything.