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It's easy to jump online and be productive with Mac OS X, but it's also easy to stop there. Many users haven't explored the depth and richness of this powerful operating system and the applications that come with it. In Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Beyond the Basics, Chris Breen helps those who are already comfortable with Mac OS X discover new features in everyday applications like Mail, iCal, and Safari. He also explores the often overlooked "power user" tools, including Terminal, Disk Utility, and Automator, and provides troubleshooting and maintenance tips.
As you have seen, keychains are important and because they are, it's important that you keep them backed up, you maintain their health and you don't allow others access to them, and that's what this lesson is all about. There is no function within Keychain Access for backing up your keychain so you should do this manually. You will find your keychain by going here. Go menu, go to folder and the path to your keychain is your user folder and that's what this tilde means /library/keychains, click Go and you see within the Keychains folder, here are your keychains.
I'd back up this entire folder rather than cherry picking the keychains within it. If there is a keychain in there other than your login keychain, it's likely that you will need it. And yes, Time Machine backs up your Keychain folder along with everything else, but keychains are important enough that I think they are worth a double backup. Back to Keychain Access, if you seem to be getting more keychain alerts than usual or you're being bugged for passwords, when you know you have already entered them and click the Always Allow option that allows the password to be added to the keychain, it's possible that your keychain is corrupted in someway and this is something that you want to fix.
You do so by choosing Keychain First Aid from the Keychain Access menu. In this window, all you have to do is edit your password because your username is already selected, make sure that Verify is enable and then click Start. This is what you hope you see. Verification started, it checks the keychain, verification completed and no problems found. However, if you see red text in here, that means that there is a problem, there is some kind of corruption and to fix that, all you have to do is enable the Repair option, click Start and this Repair function works very well most of the time.
If it doesn't work out, if it continues to show errors, it's time then to pull up your backup. You would replace the current keychain that's corrupted with the older keychain from your backup and hopefully that works. So, we will get out of Keychain First Aid now. When we talked about security, you learned that you could lock down your Mac so that others couldn't use it. You can add yet another layer of security by automatically locking your keychain so that should someone gain access to computer, they won't be able to use items and services that require the password stored in your keychain and this is pretty easily done.
Just right-click on the keychain that you would like to protect and choose Chain Settings for the name of the keychain, here you see a couple of security options. The first is you can lock your keychain after a certain number of minutes of activity. Let's suppose you're in an office environment and a lot of people come wondering by your cube and they have access to your Mac, you have gone off to get a cup of coffee, get a doughnut with it that takes 10 minutes or so and somebody in the meantime sitting on your Mac and they are sending startling e-mail on your e-mail account because they can get in because you are logged in.
Maybe you don't want that to happen and instead, tell the keychain to lock itself after a certain number of minutes of activity. I think 5 is a little too few. If I am working on my Mac and the phone rings and I am on the phone for 10 minutes, it would be inconvenient for me to have my Mac lock its keychain because what happens when it locks down, I would go into something like my e-mail application, I will attempt to get my e-mail and then will say "I think I need your password again." So, make sure this is reasonable amount of time and only you know what that time is going to be.
The other option is you can lock your keychain when the Mac goes to sleep. This is a great little option when you sleep as some kind of security setting. I showed you in security how you could do that before. This is something you can do here as well. So when your Mac goes to sleep, the keychain is unlocked. If somebody comes and wakes up your Mac and they try to access your e-mail or something else that's protected by keychain, they will be prompted for your administrator's password. If they don't know that password, they are out of luck. And finally, you can do this manually, that's also easily done.
Select the keychain you want, right-click on it and lock keychain and then the name of your keychain and it happens immediately. So, if you need to dash away, you choose this, it locks it down. You come back and then try to access something in keychain, you will be prompted for your administrator password. That will unlock the keychain so you can use it again. And that is the complete lowdown on keychains.
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