Find Lost Passwords On The Mac Using Keychain Access

Keychain Access Icon

With so many passwords to remember for various websites and even applications, it’s quite easy to forget them unless you’ve made a note somewhere safe. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case, but Mac OS X comes with a handy utility which stores all your passwords for just about everything. Even if you’ve reset all your user names and passwords from apps like Safari, Keychain Access retains them indefinitely so you can always retrieve them later.

This article shows you how to use Keychain Access to view all the passwords stored on your computer.

Using Keychain Access

1. The first thing to do is to open Keychain Access, which can be found in the Applications -> Utilities folder. Alternatively, just type its name into Spotlight (use the COMMAND + SPACEBAR shortcut) and launch it from there.

2. When it opens, make sure that All Items is selected in the left-hand Category section. You’ll notice that the main window is populated with a long list of all passwords, certificates and keys stored on your Mac as shown below.

Keychain Main Screen
Keychain Access lists all your passwords including apps and websites

3. Access to the items is normally locked (indicated by the little padlock at the top left). Just click the lock, enter your administrator password and hit OK.

Unlock Keychain Access
You may need to enter your admin password to access everything

4. Now enter the name of the application or website whose password you want to locate, using the search box at the top right of the window. For example to view your Facebook password, type Facebook into the search field to display all relevant results. Select the one you’re interested in, and then press the tiny little “i” button which can be found at the very bottom of the window

View Keychain All Items and Search
Highlight “All Items” and locate the item using the search field

5. A new window then opens with more details about the particular entry, such as its name, type (web password, app password, etc), and any additional account details – all this is shown in the Attributes tab. At the bottom of the window, check Show password to reveal the password in plain text

Keychain Access Information
View more details about the item, such as the account name and password

6. You’ll probably be asked to enter the admin password in order to unlock the item and view the details – a window as shown below might appear; if so enter your Mac’s admin password and then Allow to proceed.

Keychain Access - Unlock Item
Thankfully, access is prevented unless you’re the administrator!

7. Once that’s done, you’ll return to the previous window showing all the details including the password in plain text. Make a note of it and ensure it’s kept somewhere secure so you can remember it the next time…

Keychain Access - Show Password
Hey presto! Your forgotten password is revealed

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About the author

Roland Banks

I've been passionate about Apple ever since I bought my first iPod followed by a white polycarbonate MacBook in 2007. I currently own a MacBook Pro Retina, an iPad Mini Retina, and an iPhone 6.

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