'What is a keychain password?': How to navigate Apple's Keychain Access app and change your password

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  • A keychain password is the master password for your Mac’s “Keychain Access” app, which stores your login information for websites and accounts across the internet.
  • When you attempt to log into one of these websites, your Mac might ask you for the keychain password, in order to retrieve your login information.
  • If you don’t know your keychain password, or if you simply want to change it, you can reset the keychain password at any time.
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Keychain Access is a password manager app that comes preloaded on your Mac, and can safely store all of your usernames and passwords.

Password managers are a great way to secure your personal data, and Keychain Access will let you use strong passwords on every site without needing to remember each one.

However, even if you’ve never purposefully used Keychain Access on your Mac, your computer might start pestering you to enter your “keychain password” — this is the master password that all your other information is locked behind.

Usually, this password will be the same user password you use to log onto your computer. It’s possible, though, for the keychain and user passwords to fall out of sync.

If this is the case, you’re in luck. You can change your Mac’s keychain password at any time, even if you don’t know it.

Here’s how.

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How to change your keychain password if you know the old password

1. Start the Keychain Access app. You can usually find it in your Applications folder, but if it’s not there, just search for it using the magnifying glass icon at the top-right corner of your screen.

2. In the sidebar on the left, click “login.” It should be the first option.

3. Click “Edit” at the top of the screen, and then click “Change Password for Keychain ‘login’.”

4. Enter the old password, followed by the new password you want to change it to, and then click OK.

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If you’re asked for your keychain password in the future, you’ll just need to enter this new password.

How to reset your keychain password if you don’t know the old password

If you don’t know the old keychain password, you’ll need to reset the password, which will delete all the username and passwords stored in your keychain.

1. Start the Keychain Access app. You can usually find it in your Applications folder, but if it’s not there, just search for it using the magnifying glass icon at the top-right corner of your screen.

2. Click “Keychain Access” in the menu bar at the top of the screen, and then click “Preferences.”

3. Click “Reset My Default Keychain.” Your username and passwords will be cleared.

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4. Log out of your Mac and log back in. When Keychain Access asks for your password, now use the password for your Mac’s user account. This should put Keychain Access back in sync, and you won’t be asked for the password anymore.

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