If you use a Mac, you’ve probably used the built-in password management feature known as Keychain.
Keychain enables you to store usernames and passwords for websites, apps, and WiFi networks. Saving passwords in Keychain is super simple – as is retrieving them when macOS automatically prompts you during the login process.
But what if you need to retrieve a password that’s stored in macOS keychain manually? You may not know where to turn.
Thankfully, it’s straightforward.
A quick note on passwords
Passwords are the foundation of safe web browsing and ensure your personal and business-critical data is as secure as possible.
When you create a username and password for a service, website, or app, you’re encouraged (quite rightly) to use something strong, unique, and as un-guessable as possible.
But what if you need to make changes to your passwords in the future? Or, as noted previously, have the sudden urge to retrieve a password manually?
On macOS, passwords aren’t always easy to find (reassuring, right?!) – unless you read this guide.
How does macOS keychain work?
So, where does macOS hide your usernames and passwords?
It’s within something called Keychain access, which is pre-installed on every Mac. It remembers your login information and password for whenever you need to access a service, app, or website.
Keychain Access also facilitates the syncing of your passwords across all of your Mac and iOS devices (by relying on iCloud), thus making it simple to log in to websites no matter which device you happen to be using.
When you need to find passwords on your Mac, Keychain Access is always your best bet. The app is simple to find when you know where it is, but keep in mind that it stores confidential login information for apps that you may not want to lose. You also won’t want them to get into the wrong hands, therefore it’s important to only undertake the following steps when it feels safe and private enough to do so.
Here’s how to use Keychain Access to find passwords you’ve saved on your Mac.
Step 1: Open Keychain Access on your Mac. It can be found in the Applications folder under Utilities. Alternatively, hit command+space on your keyboard and search for it via Spotlight.
Step 2: Click Passwords from the horizontal menu at the top of Keychain Access. You’ll then be taken to a list of all your saved passwords – albeit hidden from view. To find a specific password, simply type the name of the website, or app to which it relates into the search bar at the top-right.
Step 3: Double-click on the password you want to retrieve or edit. This will display a dialogue box like the one below.
Step 4: At the bottom of the dialogue box, check the box labelled ‘Show Password’. You will be requested to enter your system password, after which you’ll be presented with the full, unmasked password. That’s it! From here, you can either copy the password for use elsewhere, edit it, or change any other details in the fields provided. (Just be sure to click ‘Save Changes’ when done.)
Why use Keychain?
When set correctly, passwords should be difficult to remember. This is why Keychain is so useful. It’s built directly into both macOS and iOS, and enables you to retrieve any password super fast, without ever having to remember the unique combinations.
With our tips above, you can easily find passwords on your Mac by using Keychain Access. You can use the same tool to recover the WiFi passwords you’ve used on both your Macs or iOS devices.
If we’ve raised any questions, or if you have questions related to password management in general, please do get in touch with the friendly Moof IT team.