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Apple places a strong emphasis on security, continually bolstering its operating systems with secure software features. In this article, we will look at its password storage feature called iCloud Keychain.
We’ll explain how it works, how to find passwords on Mac, and whether it’s worth using Apple’s password management capabilities.
Key points to remember:
- iCloud Keychain is free and built into the macOS system for ease of use
- An iCloud account is required to use iCloud Keychain’s automated sharing features
- You can’t use iCloud Keychain to enable two-factor authentication for non-Apple sites
To get started, there are two easy ways to access your iCloud Keychain. You can find saved passwords in System Preferences or by using your Safari browser. Before you begin, be sure to activate your iCloud account if you haven’t already – saved passwords won’t sync over an internet connection unless you’re signed in.
In this article, we won’t explain how to find passwords with third-party software, such as web browsers or password managers. See our review of password managers for Mac for steps on how to use these tools.
A Mac with iCloud enabled stores Keychain in your encrypted cloud account. Passwords are stored in a local encrypted database if you don’t have iCloud Keychain.
iCloud Keychain is a solid password manager that provides all the basic functionality for a secure vault. It’s not the sturdiest, but it’s very easy to use.
The best Mac password manager is not our best. On a Mac, we recommend Dashlane for its great value and extensive features. 1Password is our best password manager overall, but second best for Mac. LastPass takes third place.
How to Find Passwords on Mac with System Preferences
The macOS Keychain Access app is integrated into your System Preferences. Use these steps to use it to view saved passwords.
- Open System Preferences
All basic macOS settings can be changed in the “system preferences” menu, which is also where you’ll find your saved passwords. Begin, click on your apple menu bar and click on “system preferences”.
- Click the wrench icon
Halfway through the “system preferences” page, look for a key icon labeled “passwords”. Click it to open and manage your saved passwords. If you’re not signed in to iCloud, you’ll need to use Safari to view saved credentials from other devices. The macOS System Keychain will not sync with your iCloud Keychain if you are not signed in.
- Log in with your administrator password
Next, you will be asked to log in with your Mac user password – this protects your sensitive data. All of your passwords and usernames will be displayed once you gain access to the keychain. Enter your account ID and password, use biometrics or sign in with an Apple Watch.
- Select the website to edit
A new window will open with a list of websites and credentials. As a cool feature, Keychain places an exclamation mark next to reused passwords. When enabled, local and iCloud Keychains also show compromised passwords. Select a website to view its details.
- View, change and save your password
At first, you will only see hide dots for passwords on your Mac. Click the “Edit” button to edit or view a saved password. Making a change here only changes stored passwords. You will still need to change your password on the site concerned. Click on “save” and your changes will be safely stored in the keychain.
How to Find Saved Passwords on Mac Using Safari
With Safari, you can still find your passwords if you haven’t enabled iCloud or macOS Keychain. It’s handy if you’re away from home, on your phone, or just borrowing someone’s computer.
- Open Safari browser
Whether on your computer or your phone, open Safari browser. You cannot use this feature on other browsers like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.
- Sign into your account
In the following context menu, click on the “passwords” key icon. Whether on your own computer or not, enter your administrator password to gain access to the keychain. This ensures that it is really you and secures your credentials. Log in with biometrics, use your username and password, or log in with an Apple Watch.
- Choose the site to view or edit
You will get a list of sites with all your saved passwords, just like in the “system preferences” menu. This includes saved credentials for all sites you have visited. Click on a site for the password you want to view or edit.
- View, change and save your password
Only hide points will show when website details appear. Click on the “edit” button to make changes or view the unmasked password. When editing is complete, click “save” to save the change. Also make sure change passwords on the site concerned. You can also access this menu by saying “Hey Siri, show my passwords”.
Is iCloud Keychain the best password manager for macOS?
In many ways, iCloud Keychain is a streamlined and well-designed built-in feature for managing passwords. You don’t need to install another app, you don’t have to pay for any additional service, and the data follows you on any Apple device.
However, the macOS Keychain system is also very basic. It lacks more sophisticated features that are well implemented by services like 1Password or LastPass. As an example, you won’t see a Family Vault and there’s no way to integrate multi-factor authentication for non-Apple accounts.
For a solid Apple device password manager, we recommend Dashlane (see our Dashlane review).
Nevertheless, it is worth trying iCloud Keychain. Yes, it’s incredibly simple, but it’s a feature rather than a bug. You don’t need new apps or a browser extension when using the macOS ecosystem.
Your vault is already protected by Apple’s cloud encryption, and you can save and share this data with other Apple users via AirDrop.
Final Thoughts: Managing Mac User Passwords
Apple devices have always been an ecosystem of tightly-knit apps designed to work well together. iCloud Keychain matches this model by integrating with macOS menus and apps. You get the benefits of a secure cloud storage credential vault without paying extra money or creating new accounts.
To use iCloud Keychain, enable iCloud on your system by signing in to the service.
After that, find your passwords through Apple’s System Preferences or by logging in through Safari. Don’t forget that you can also sign in to iCloud and share passwords with your contacts with AirDrop. Of course, you can always export passwords to one of our top-rated password managers.
We hope you know more about finding Mac passwords.
For other Mac questions, please leave a comment so we can serve your needs. We’re also interested in your opinions on iCloud Keychain. Do you use it with your Mac? If not, what kept you away from the service? Otherwise, thanks for reading and have a nice day.