How do I get my lost Mac Keychain password back?
July 19, 2006 3:44 PM   Subscribe

How can I recover my Apple Mac Keychain password.

As a new Mac user I have managed to forget my Keychain password. Is there a way to recover it without re-installing OSX?
I'm so used to handy password encryption programs I use on my PC, maybe there is something similar for the Mac?
posted by darksmiler to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is no way to reset a keychain password.

However you don't have to reinstall.

Go to your home folder, find the Library folder and drag the Library>Keychains folder to the trash.

Restart the computer and a new keychain will be created using your current system password.

If you have forgotten you whole system password then you will need to reset it using your System Restore disk as described here.
posted by unSane at 3:54 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks unSane I will try this and post back.
posted by darksmiler at 3:58 PM on July 19, 2006

Is your "Keychain password" the same as your "Administrator password", the one you use to install software? Or do you have a user account a Mac OS X machine where someone else is the system administrator?

If you're the administrator and you've forgotten the password to the login keychain and the administrator password, I am afraid you've permanently lost the contents of your keychain. However, you can recover from the situation without reinstalling the entire OS.

First, reset the administrator password using the Mac OS X disc:
  1. Insert the Mac OS X Install disc and restart the computer.
  2. When you hear the startup tone, hold down the C key until you see the spinning gear.
  3. When the Installer appears, choose Utilities > Reset Password.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions to change the password.
  5. Quit the Installer and restart your computer while holding down the mouse button to eject the disc.
After the Mac has restarted, you'd normally now need to change the password for the keychain called "login" to match the new admin password, but since you've forgotten it you'll need to delete the old login keychain. Do the following steps:
  1. Open Keychain Access, located in /Applications/Utilities.
  2. Choose Keychain List from the Edit menu.
  3. Select the "login" keychain.
  4. Click Delete (the "-" button).
The login keychain will now be empty. The next time the keychain is needed you'll have to manually enter the appropriate password and then you'll be asked if you want to store the password in the keychain.
posted by RichardP at 4:17 PM on July 19, 2006

Advice: don't drag it to the trash. Just move it to a backup. Just in case, y'know?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:43 PM on July 19, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks Also to PichardP. I'll be reunited with my Mac tomorrow and will give it a go and report back.
posted by darksmiler at 10:47 AM on July 20, 2006

Unfortunately, the short answer is "you can't recover a keychain password".

Normally, your "login.keychain" password is the same as your user password. If you change your password in the System Preferences it will be changed automatically in login.keychain UNLESS the passwords are already different.

This often happens to users who are bound to Active Directory since they are periodically forced to reset their passwords independently of their keychains. Then all hell breaks loose once they forget what their OLD password was.

In other news, please do not forget your FileVault password. Really.
posted by ...possums at 11:19 PM on July 21, 2006

Oh. That's not to say you're hosed. You just need to delete your old login.keychain (noted above) and a new one (with your current user password) will be created upon login. However, the point of my original post was that you will not be able to get the items inside the keychain back. They are bound-bound-bound to that old password.
posted by ...possums at 11:21 PM on July 21, 2006

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