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Home / Tips and Tricks / Quickly generate a strong password on your iPhone when iCloud Keychain not working «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

Quickly generate a strong password on your iPhone when iCloud Keychain not working «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks



With Apple’s password manager, iCloud Keychain, you can securely store important credentials for apps, websites and services that sync across all your Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac. One of the biggest highlights is that it can create strong passwords for you. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work, and in those cases there are other ways to generate random, strong passwords.

Normally, when you tap a password field on the login screen for an app or a website in Safari, iOS suggests a 20-character passcode – consisting of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, hyphens, and sometimes special characters depending on what the service requires. However, Keychain doesn̵

7;t work for all websites and apps, and it’s not compatible with third-party web browsers, so it’s up to you to create a strong password.

Other password managers, such as LastPass and 1Password, can generate strong passwords for you, but you need to create an account and you may not want more than one password manager. Rather than using any other service, you can automatically generate your own iCloud Keychain style passwords using a shortcut, which can be accessed from the Shortcuts app or a webpage’s Share sheet.

Obligated

  • iOS 14: The “Generate Password” shortcut works best on iOS 14, but also works on iOS 13. However, notifications and other items may look and work differently on iOS 13.
  • Shortcuts: If you removed the Shortcuts app, reinstall it from the App Store.
  • Allow untrusted shortcuts: To add user-created shortcuts to your library, go to Settings -> Shortcuts and enable “Allow untrusted shortcuts”.

Step 1: Add the ‘Generate password’ shortcut

Redditor duvoh’s “Generate Password” can create keychain-style passwords for you when iOS can’t. Just launch the shortcut and the password will be copied to your clipboard so you can paste it into a password field. It expires after 10 minutes from your clipboard, so you also have plenty of time to add the password to iCloud Keychain without worrying about it being in your clipboard forever.

Use the above iCloud link to get the shortcut. You will be redirected to the Shortcuts app (if not, tap “Get Shortcut” first), where you can preview the shortcut’s actions. Scroll down and tap “Add untrusted shortcut” to add it to your library.

Step 2: Generate new passwords

We have adapted the shortcut linked above to work for any entry in the Share sheet. That way, you don’t have to mess with the settings to turn that on manually. So now you are ready to create new passwords. To do this, you can use the Share sheet in any app or directly from Shortcuts.

Option 1: Share sheet

If you are already on the website where you want to enter your password, you can access the shortcut from the Share sheet. Simply tap the Share button and then choose “Generate Password” from the shortcut list.

A message will appear indicating that the shortcut is generating your password. After a few seconds, another notification will show the password and automatically copy it to your clipboard. From there, tap “Done” to exit the warning, exit the share sheet, then double-tap the password field and click “Paste”.

You have 10 minutes to paste the password until the clipboard is cleared.

Once you’ve entered your new credentials and created your account, make sure to tap “Save Password” when iOS asks if you want to save it to your iCloud Keychain. If you don’t see that prompt, you can always go to Settings -> Passwords and add it manually.

Option 2: Shortcuts app

If you need a password but you are not in a web browser, you can generate it directly from the Shortcuts app. In “My Shortcuts” in Shortcuts, tap the “Generate Password” card. Shortly after, a notification will pop up, showing the password and automatically copying it to your clipboard. From there, tap “Done” to exit the warning, then switch back to the affected app to paste the password.

You have 10 minutes to paste the password until the clipboard is cleared.

Once you’ve entered your new credentials and created your account, tap “Save Password” when iOS asks if you want to save it to your iCloud Keychain. If you don’t see that prompt, you can always go to Settings -> Passwords and add it manually.

Step 3: Add password to iCloud Keychain

Let’s say you just generated a password with the shortcut and created an account, but you weren’t prompted to save your new credentials in iCloud Keychain. If you want to save that information so you don’t forget it, or if you want to use it later with AutoFill, you can do it manually.

Open the Settings app and tap Passwords. Use Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode to sign in to your account, then tap the plus sign (+) in the top right to add new credentials. Enter the website URL and your username and paste the password saved to your clipboard. Click “Done” and your newly generated password and credentials will be saved to your iCloud Keychain.

Step 4: make it safer (optional)

There are a number of things you can do to make the shortcut more secure.

First, you can shorten the time the password is stored on your clipboard. By default it is kept for 10 minutes, but you can decrease that to slightly shorter. Second, you can remove the notification that shows you the generated password so that no one else can see it too. Since it was copied to your clipboard, you don’t need to see it unless you want to confirm it’s strong enough for you.

To edit the shortcut, tap the ellipse (•••) on the “Generate Password” card. Here you can see all the actions that make it work.

Option 1: decrease the clipboard time (optional)

Go to the first and only “Calendar” action at the bottom of the workflow. It says “Add 10 minutes to date,” which is how long the password will be stored in your clipboard, but you can make that much shorter.

Tap the “10” and choose a lower number. You can even tap “minutes” and change that to “seconds,” but you want enough time to not only use the password but also save it so you can stick to minutes better. Press “Done” on the keyboard.

If this is all you want to change, click “Done” in the top right corner of the workflow to save it. If not, go to the next option to delete the notification.

Option 2: Delete the notification with the password (optional)

To remove the notification with the password, find the first and only “Previewing” action at the very bottom – and click the (X) icon to remove it. Once removed, the notification will no longer appear with the password in it. Press “Done” in the top right corner to save your edited shortcut.

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Cover photo and screenshots by Nelson Aguilar / Gadget Hacks

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