How to find the passwords for Wi-Fi networks you’ve previously joined

Most public wi-fi connections are guarded by a password, normally you have to ask someone or buy something to get access to the password, which you then enter on your Mac and promptly forget able. But what if you need to find this password again but for some reason aren’t able to ask for it? If you look in your network connections the password you previously entered won’t be legible, it will just be represented by a series of circles or stars. This guide will show you how to read all the wifi passwords that you’ve currently got stored on your Mac using the Keychain app.

The first thing you’ll need to do is get keychain opened, you can do this via the Apps and Utilities folder, or just search for the app using Spotlight. Once you’ve got Keychain open it will look like this.

You’ll need to select “passwords” from the category windows and you’ll also need to know at least part of the name of the wi-fi network that you want to recover the password for.

Using the search window in the top-right corner of the Keychain app you’ll then need to search for and find the details for the network you’ve previously accessed Click it and a small pop-up window will appear. This is where you’ll find the specific password for this network. By default (and doubtless for security reasons) you won’t be shown the password until you click the check box next to “Show Password”.

There will then be a security check where you’ll be asked for a password. This isn’t a password to do with the Wi-Fi network, but is in fact your admin/login password. Once you’ve verified with keychain that you really do have access to its data you’ll be returned to the same window.

This time however the password for the network you’ve been access will be displayed fully and you’ll now be able to make a paper note of it, or pass it on to your friend who’s also trying to access the same network.

This handy hint works with any network you’ve already accessed with the correct password, it won’t help you if you’ve never known or never inputted the password, so make sure you’ve actually been on the network at least once before you try to follow this guide.

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About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded blurtit.com which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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