See Forgotten Passwords [OS X Tips]

See Forgotten Passwords [OS X Tips]

OS X remembers and autocompletes passwords for you, but what if you forget them? And then what if your hard disk should suddenly shake itself apart and you have to start with a fresh installation? Here’s how to view any password that OS X stores for you, for applications and websites.

This tip is extracted from Mac Kung Fu, a new book containing over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for Mac OS X Lion. 

Often your Mac will ask if you want to let it remember your login details for websites and even applications like Yahoo! Messenger.

I make such heavy use of this feature that I often forget what the password was, or even the account name in some cases. However, Macs make it easy to recover such details.

All passwords are stored in a secure keychain file, and you can use the Keychain Access program to get to it. It’s found in the Utilities folder of the Applications list within Finder. When the program starts, ensure All Items is selected under the Category heading on the left, then simply type the name of the website or application into the search field at the top right of the program window. Then double-click the entry you’re interested in in the list of results.

In the dialog box that appears, put a check in the Show Password box. You’ll need to type your login password to authorize this, but once you’re done, it will appear in plain text (ensure there’s nobody who can see your screen at this point, of course). Your login name will be listed above in the Account text field.

  • David Butt

    Would it not be wise to maintain your list of logins and passwords in permanently retrievable locations which reside outside the ready convenience of your keychain? In addition to being portable, and usable at locations other than your computer, properly managed it will allow those who may need to access & clean up accounts on your behalf (executor, attorney, etc) to see where & what needs to be addressed.

  • KeirThomas

    Yes, but we’re all human. 

  • Jackson

    Use LastPass.  It’s free and the passwords are stored securely on the web. It remembers when you forget and even works on the iPad 2.

About the author

Keir ThomasKeir Thomas (http://keirthomas.com) is the author of Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for Mac OS X Lion. He's also the author of over 10 other computing titles.

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