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Recover forgotten passwords saved to Mac’s Keychain Access

Recover forgotten passwords saved to Mac's Keychain Access

Remembering passwords can be quite the challenge, which is why many people simply let their Macs do the work and save them in Keychain Access. But what if you need to look up that password?

Passwords are a pain. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. Unfortunately, they’re a necessary part of our electronic lives and it will only continue to get worse as we sign up for more online accounts, connect to more networks, etc. One of the best ways to ease this pain is to utilize one of Mac OS X’s long-time features – Keychain Access. This program, located in Applications > Utilities, is where all of your Mac’s saved passwords and authorization codes are stored.

For example, if you sign in to your web-based email account and check the option to “Remember my password” in your browser, it goes straight to Keychain Access. Let’s also say you have a wireless network at home with access protected by a WPA or WEP code. Entering that code in your Mac to connect will create a new entry in Keychain Access. With all of this sensitive information floating around you can rest assured Apple has locked down and encrypted the data in this application.  It sure beats keeping everything written down on an easily misplaced or stolen piece of paper.

But if you’re trusting a program to store and automatically enter this personal information when needed, what happens when you need to retrieve a password and have long since forgotten what it is? No worries, Keychain Access lets you look up your saved passwords.

Keychain Access Show Password

Simply open Keychain Access and select “Passwords” under the Category heading. Find the piece of information you’re looking for (or search for it at the top-right corner of the window), select its listing, and press Command+I on your keyboard. In the window that pops up you will see a “Show Password” checkbox. Click on it and enter your Mac’s user or administrator password to unlock the data. Make sure you select “Allow” and not “Always Allow” when confirming your request. Your recovered password should now be visible in the text box. All done!

15 Comments Have Been Posted (Leave Your Response)

Somehow keychain has been opened on my account. I want ti OFF. I am asking you in good faith how to accomplish this.

My comment, just sent is that I wan;t keychain turned OFF. That is, NOT ON. It was somehow activated without my permission. Pleas do this, or inform me how for myself.

When I enter my administrator password, Keychain accepts it–i.e., it does not say “invalid password” the way it does if I enter no password–and then immediately unchecks the “Show Password” box. If I click the box again, it again immediately unchecks. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Awesome, worked for me thanks bunches.

darrell jackson
July 28th, 2010, 7:05 PM

how can i change the keychaine name

This doesn’t work at all. I entered my adminitrative password and get the message “Sorry you have entered an invalid password”
The admin password works for everything else.

MacBook Pro OS X 10.6.6

The reason it’s not working for you is because you must have changed your Mac’s admin password as some point. When you did that, your Keychain password didn’t change – it stayed the same. Try entering your old admin password, if you remember it.

I can’t remember the old password – I tried everything – but just can’t remember!
Can I delete the keychain program.
Is there a work around?
Very frustrated with – Mac Book not very user friendly!


Thank you! I have been a mac owner for about a year, but I never knew this and I desperately needed to recover a password saved on keychain!

thank you

Same problem as Nancy. I changed my own admin password, but wrote it down wrong. Stupid! Then rechanged that to new admin password, so can access computer again. BUT not keychain password (which had automatically changed to forgotten password).

I know I can create a new keychain. But I would lose all of the password collected therein. Correct?

I understand that this is designed to protect my data – but right now it’s a nightmare. And – as I’ve discovered – the data on the computer is TOTALLY unprotected anyway, as anyone can change the root password.

Does that make any sense?

Keychain Password Question
Further to my question from a minute ago, a thought struck me: I have a bootable back-up drive made via SuperDuper. This has not been touched since I’ve stupidly reprogrammed my password.

Presumably the keychain on that drive still uses the original admin password, which I DO remember. Will it work to boot from THAT drive, or check the keychain password that I need from the now blocked list form THAT drive, rather than the Macbook’s?

Any advice greatly appreciated!

Every time I try to download a program it asks for my apple id. I have tried everything but since changing the hard drive (apple store) nothing seems to work. I have tried resetting the password several times and when I did a test (found on the internet) it came back saying I have no admin password. There is nothing in the keychain either. I am really stuck! Can anyone offer some advice? Many thanks in advance

I opened the keychain access but it shows me old passwords. How can I update it to see my real password?

This doesn’t show the actual password, but rather a long complicated code which bears no relation to my passwords.
Not sure how, but this must alias passwords although I can’t find a way to change that. I checked an active account I do regularly use and can successfully log in for and that password is shown in the keychain as a long ridiculous code as well.

I can’t access my macmini key chain because I have forgotten my Password help me please! It’s driving me crazy as I have exhausted all my old PWs