I'm Your Backdoor Man

Two recent incidents prompt today's entry.

The first is that, during a troubleshooting session with my wife's iMac, my helpmate replied to my request for her email password with the succinct, but ultimately unhelpful "Password?"

The second was a message from reader Guy Parrot, who managed to enter the wrong password for a secure website and, adding insult to injury, replied to Safari's question about saving that password in such a way that he was later unable to enter the site.

Which, of course, got me thinking about the oft-overlooked Keychain Access application (tucked away in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder). Keychain Access was able to solve both problems.

Problem 1 Solution: Because I set up my wife's user account for Mac OS X, I know her Administrator's password. With that password in hand, all I had to do was launch Keychain Access, select the keychain entry for her email account, enable the Show Password option, enter her Administrator's password when prompted, and the email password was revealed.

Problem 2 Solution: Mr. Parrot had saved an incorrect password to his keychain and then instructed the Mac OS to automatically use that password without his input. To put things right, that incorrect password had to go. To kill it was the work of a moment. I instructed him to select the password for that site in Keychain Access and choose Delete from the Edit menu. When he next visits that site, he'll be prompted for the password and -- one would hope -- will enter the correct password and then save this password to his keychain.

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