Safely Move Keychain Files From Your Old Mac To A New One [OS X Tips]

Safely Move Keychain Files From Your Old Mac To A New One [OS X Tips]

Copying files to a new Mac? Perhaps one of them newfangled MacBook Pros? While most of us use Migration Assistant to move our files from one Mac to a new one, it may not be an option in your particular case. I’ve definitely wanted to move just the bare minimum of files over to a new Mac before, and today’s tip should help with just that.

The Keychain is a place to store passwords and login information, and it’s fairly easy to move your Mac’s Keychain to a new one. Here’s how.

Start on the Mac you want to move the Keychain file from and hit Command-Shift-G to get the Go To Folder text field. Type in the following path to go to your Keychain folder:
~/Library/Keychains/

Once there, copy the file named login.keychain using whatever method you find best. You can copy it to a flash drive, external hard drive, or what have you. Just remember that this is sensitive information, so don’t go emailing it.

Take the file over to the new Mac and open Spotlight with a click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right or by hitting Command-Space on your keyboard. Search for Keychain Access in Spotlight and launch the app when it appears as your Top Hit.

In Keychain Access, choose Add Keychain from the File menu. Browse to the file you copied from the old mac, whether it’s on a USB stick or a folder on the new Mac. Click on the Add button and the new Mac will import the Keychain data right to your new Mac computer. If you feel like testing it, head to a web page or use an app that you typically use Keychain to unlock or login with.

Be sure to securely delete the file you copied over to the new mac from your thumb drive or whatever you used. Secure Empty Trash in the Finder menu is your friend for doing this.

Got an OS X tip? Need help troubleshooting OS X? (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)or leave a comment below.

  • Eamon McMurray

    After following this I am asked to enter the password of my original MacBook every time it starts to unlock the Keychain. It is getting annoying now, does anyone know how to stop it?

    Thanks.

    • √Čric Boucher

      Normally, the keychain you imported has the same name (“session”) as the one on your new mac, so you will have 2 “session” keychains in the upper left section of the Keychain Access app. Right-click on the newly imported (“session”) keychain, and choose “Change the “session” keychain password”.

      That should do it.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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