Keychain Access: Keeping Mac Passwords Safe

With many individuals recommending that you have a different password for separate websites and services, it becomes more crucial than ever to have a safe place to keep your passwords. In Mac, the Keychain Access is the safe place that Apple created for you.

Keychain Access is the password manager that comes with all OS X Macs. You will most likely run into the program when entering a password on a website or in Utilities. Keychain Access stores passwords, notes, and security certifications from not only Safari, but other applications as well.

KeychainAccess_HowCanIAccess

To get to Keychain Access from Safari, click the Safari name in the menu bar, followed by “Preferences” and “Passwords”. You will see a list of the websites and services Keychain Access has saved passwords for. The upper right hand corner of the window allows you to search for a particular website you have saved the password for.

In the bottom left, you can choose to remove all passwords. Lastly, you can show passwords by clicking the checkbox at the lower center of the page.

KeychainAccess_main_interface

You can also find Keychain Access in the Utilities of Mac. When you open Keychain Access from there, you will be able to access passwords, notes, and certificates by clicking any of those options in the upper left part of the screen. Below that, you can go a bit further and choose categories.

At the bottom of the screen, you can add more passwords by clicking the “+” button. The “i” information button reveals more info about the specific certificate or password key. Lastly, you can also copy the password with the “copy” button.

Keychain Access - Outside of Safari

Keychain Access is also useful outside of Safari. Other web browsers can also make use of it to access your passwords. You can also make notes to yourself to create a place to save other pins, such as your banking pin or even your iPhone password.

  1. Click the “+” button at the bottom of the page.
  2. Under “Keychain Item Name” – name the password or pin you’d like to save. For example,” iPhone Pin”.
  3. Under “Account Name” – name the individual who will make use of this password or pin.
  4. Finally, enter the password or pin under “Password”. Pay attention to the password strength. It lets you know if this is a good password or one that can easily be cracked.
  5. Click “Add”.

Keychain Access - New Secure Note Item

For a safe note-to-self, click “File -> New Secure Note Item…” to add a safe note.

You may be wondering if you can access your passwords and notes so easily, what’s there to stop others from doing it as well? The key to this protection is by locking Keychain Access.

Keychain Access - Change Settings

There are two ways of doing this. You can lock just the Specific Key that you currently selected from the Keychains section of Keychain Access. To do this, simply click “File -> Lock Keychain Specific Key” or “Command + L”. To lock all of Keychain Access, including certificates and notes, click “Lock All Keychains”. To have this done automatically, go to “Edit -> Change Settings for…”. This will change depending on which Keychain you are accessing. Once clicked, you can set Keychain to initiate after a set amount of inactivity.

One pitfall of Keychain Access is that visitors to your Mac can have access to your passwords even when you lock Keychain Access through the app. For example, if you have your Facebook account in Keychain Access, it will automatically fill in the password and you just have to press “Enter” to login to your Facebook account. This also means anyone accessing Facebook on your computer has access to your account.

If you feel that Keychain Access is lacking in features, there are a couple of alternatives password managers that you can try out.

Is password security a concern for you? How do you manage your Mac passwords? Let us know in the comments section below.