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As we've gone through this course, you've likely seen instances where we are prompted to save a password to a Keychain, but what exactly is this Keychain? Well, Keychain is where your passwords are stored, and it's managed by an application called Keychain Access, so let's see what that does. It's in your Utilities folder, and here is Keychain Access. At the top left of the window are your Keychains. By default, you see these three Keychains. The first is called login.
This is tied to your login password, so the same one you use to log in to your account. System has its own series of keychains, and System Roots has another set of keychains. And then below are Categories. So you can see all the Keychain items by clicking on All Items. You can see just Passwords. Something called Secure Notes, where you can create a note and then password protect it. Certificates, these are from websites that indicate that a website is a good website and not some fake one. Keys, not something you need to worry about, and then more certificates.
So what we're largely interested in is passwords. Now, as we go through Passwords, you'll see a list of every website and email account that you've saved the password for. Now some of this is marginally helpful, like when was it last modified, for example, or which Keychain does it live in? However, what we really want to use this for is recovering a password. So let's choose Google Calendar. I double-click on it, and you see the option to Show Password. Click on that, and you are then prompted for your login password.
So, again the password you use to log in to your Mac. At that point you would enter your password, click on allow, and then here, in the Show password field, you would see your password in the clear. You'd then know what that password is in case you've forgotten it. In this case, I'm going to choose Deny because I don't want to expose my password for one and all to see. But again, this is the technique for finding a password that you may have lost. What else can you do in Keychain Access? Well, suppose you're in a situation like your email program, for example, and you're constantly nagged for a password.
You enter the password, you allow it to be used, and you can get your email, great. Go back to mail an hour later, it prompts you for that password again. Well you already added it and you told it to add it to Keychain Access, and yet, it doesn't seem to be working. Well, that's because the Keychain may be damaged. In that case, go to Keychain Access, choose Keychain First Aid, here's your username, enter your password, and click on verify. It will run through very quickly to see if there are any problems with the Keychain.
If there are any, a red entry will appear in here. If that's the case, click on Repair, click Start, and your Keychain will be repaired. There are other things that you can do with Keychain Access. For example, you can create a new Keychain, and then you can ask that your passwords be stored there. If you create a Keychain and you no longer want it, you can delete it. You can change settings for your Keychain. If you're really worried about security, you can have your Keychain locked after a certain number of minutes.
This isn't a bad idea, particularly if you walk away from your Mac a lot of the time and other people have access to it. Because if you leave your Mac up and running, somebody could come in, check you email for you and see what's in it, because Keychain has memorized your password. However, if you have it lock after a certain number of minutes, they would have to know your login password in order to get into your email or some other kind of password-protected service. And the other option is you can lock when sleeping. So put your Mac to sleep, before anybody can do anything that requires a password, they would have to know your login password.
And those are the key elements of Keychain Access.
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