Find lost password with Keychain Access

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Since 1997, Mac OS has had a password management system called Keychain. It can manage many daily password usages such as WiFi router password, website access passwords via Safari, network disk access password to name a few. When you access these as the first time, it will ask the user to store:

Save Password Option
Save Password Option

If you use iCloud sync, these passwords will be synced to iPhone and iPad, which makes the life much easier. It is well encrypted and highly recommended.

Keychain password assistance
Keychain password assistance

How to recover password

In this example, we will recover email account password. If you use Apple Mail to read/write email messages, its account password is saved in Keychain. Time to time you might need to access emails using a web browser (i.e., to delete offensive malware which Apple Mail refused to download), while you don’t remember the password, here are the steps to dig the password from Keychain.

1)  Start Keychain Access application

  • Keychain access request is usually hidden. You will need to start with Spotlight
    • Either click on the magnifying glass icon located at the top right of the screen or type ⌘+[Space] to start Spotlight

      Start Spotlight
      Start Spotlight
    • Start keyboarding “keychain” and you will see the candidates are displayed and selected. Select the Keychain Access application if not already then hit [Return] to start Keychain Access application.

      Start Keychain Access
      Start Keychain Access

2) Search the target email address

  • Type the email address in question into the search field

    Search item
    Search item
  • Double-click selected item to open

    Show Password Option
    Show Password Option
  • The password field is displayed empty by default. You need to click on the “Show password:” checkbox so the verification window will open. You need to enter the password of your Mac, that is, the password you enter when you start your Mac.

    Enter local password
    Enter local password
  • After entering your Mac password, click [OK] then the previous window will show you the password in question.

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