Saturday, October 15, 2005

MacOnMacs: Password Management

I love the fact that my Mac takes the lead on asking me if I'd like it to keep track of my passwords for websites, applications, and more - with the number of great sites that insist you to "sign up" to access their full content (e.g., we all can use a little help in this area.

However, there are many people out there who find themselves having to enter a password for a site (or whatever) in some area that your Mac hasn't encountered before (and so it can't automatically fill in the password), or who need to get a password stored on their Mac for use on another computer, or who want to (heavens forbid! :-) ) share their password with a friend. Since your Mac will fill in passwords used routinely on your computer, it may be that you have no recollection whatsoever of what your password is for a given use and you don't really feel like cycling through all of your different passwords to find out which one you used here.

Well fear not - Apple's built-in Keychain Access application (Applications->Utilities->Keychain Access) will come to your rescue! Just open Keychain Access, select the category you're looking for (or just keep it on the default "All Items" category), and take a look through the list in the right hand pane. This should give you enough information (which is expanded upon in the top panel for currently selected items) to locate the correct entry that will contain your password. Entries include info on the type of password, where the password is used, the account name, if applicable, that uses this password, and when the password was last modified. Double-click on the entry you're looking for and a popup will appear. If you're not sure that this is the right entry, then try copying and pasting the "Where" field into your web browser to see where it takes you (you can also right- or control-click the original list entry and select "Go There"). When you've confirmed that this is the correct entry, check the "Show password" box at the bottom of the popup. From here, a "Confirm Access to Keychain" popup will appear asking for your Mac User Account's password (i.e. the one you log in to your computer with), and then just click, I would advise, "Allow Once", as you probably don't want others to be able to see this later on should they be using your account for something. La voila - your password appears!

So don't give up hope or sign up for a new account b/c you think you've totally forgotten your password info - just ask Keychain Access to give you a helping hand!

PS: You can also use Keychain Access to change password Access Control (e.g. insisting that you type in your Mac User Account Password before your Mac fills in a password field, etc.) and do some other nifty stuff.
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10/15/2005 01:59:00 p.m.  


Anonymous john said...

Also, in reading about keychain in the October MacWorld (pg60), I found that Keychain will also assess the quality of your password which is pretty cool!

October 16, 2005 11:02 a.m.  
Blogger Jeff MacArthur said...

Yep, I forgot to mention this (and after all my ranting about Macworld :-) ), but very cool feature!

November 05, 2005 12:07 p.m.  

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