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How to locate a password with the macOS Keychain

How to locate a password with the macOS Keychain

I’ll start this by reminding everyone that you should use a password manager to store and protect all your passwords. We’ve come to a point where password managers should be considered an absolute necessity to help with privacy and security.

However, if you are a macOS user, there is a way to manage your passwords using a built-in tool. The said tool is the Keychain Access tool that is built into macOS and is ready to serve in the traditional, easy-to-use way for Apple apps. So, if you’re still not ready to join the password manager trend (you should be), at least you have an option ready to serve.

I’ll show you how to open the Keychain Access tool, how to use it to select (and even change) your saved password in macOS, and even create a new Keychain item.

The only thing you’ll need to keep track of is an Apple laptop or desktop computer. I will explain this on a MacBook Pro running macOS Monterey (version 12.2.1).

With that, let’s get to work.

Open Keychain Access

To open Keychain Access, click on Launchpad in the Dock. From there, type keychain and then click on the Keychain Access icon. In the resulting window, click the Passwords tab to reveal each entry (shape 1) is saved in macOS.

shape 1

keychain1.jpg

macOS Keychain Access saves passwords, secure notes, certificates, and keys.

Make sure to click on Local Items in the left navigation and you will see every locally saved password entry.

View a password inside Keychain Access

You can either scroll through the list or use the search tool to select the entry you want to view. Once you locate the entry in question, double-click it or right-click on it and click Get Info from the resulting menu.

A new window will appear (Figure 2) contains all the information for that entry.

Figure 2

keychain2.jpg

Entering a server I have on my LAN includes a lot of information.

As you can see, the password is hidden from view. To view the password for the entry, click Show Password, and when prompted, type the password for your user account. The password will then appear in the field. You can then either copy it to the clipboard and use it or you can change it (if needed).

To change the password, simply erase what’s there and type in the new entry. After changing the password, make sure to click Save changes and the password will be updated.

Create password entry

Creating a new password entry in Keychain Access is simple. On the Passwords tab, make sure to click Local Items and then click the New icon at the top (small box with a diagonal font). When the new window appears (Figure 3), type a name (or URL) for the Keychain item, add an account name (username), and then type the password associated with the item.

Figure 3

keychain3.jpg

Create a new password entry to be stored in Keychain Access.

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Be sure to pay attention to the password strength indicator. You always want to use strong passwords. If your password is weak or fair, make it more complex until you reach an excellent rating.

Click Add to save the new entry.

And that’s all it takes to select/edit the password entry in macOS and even create a new entry. If you’re not ready to migrate to a full password manager, you should at least start using Keychain Access until you’re ready to make the leap.

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