Copying keychain

Reader Jason M. Krellenstein is concerned about his keychain. He writes:

Can you kindly tell me how to back up my Keychain? I have a whole lot of passwords, etc. stored on the keychain on my PowerBook and I want to put an exact copy of it on my iBook, for if and when my trusty PowerBook gives up the ghost. Mac Help is vague and not useful on this point.

If you haven’t created a new keychain, you’ll find what you seek by following this path yourusefolder /Library/Keychains. Inside the Keychains folder is login.keychain , the default user keychain file that OS X creates—the one that you unlock with your login password.

It’s a good idea to have a backup of this file (and an even better idea to have a backup of all the files you value). Keychain Access includes Keychain First Aid (found in the Keychain Access menu) that can verify and repair keychains. But if your keychain is beyond repair, it’s nice knowing you can replace the corrupted version with the backup you’ve made.

The idea of copying a keychain from one computer to another is a little more problematic. If that other computer uses a different user name or password you’ll be bombarded with password requests. Even with the same user name and password, you’ll run into the occasional request for a password. For example, when I copied the file to another computer that used the same user name and password, I was asked for my VPN password by Internet Connect, even though it worked on the original computer without such a demand.

So, as kindly as I can put it, backing up this file is a fine idea but even better is a full backup of your data or, even even better is a clone of your current Mac to a bootable external drive that you update regularly. When your PowerBook finally does meet its maker, that clone will come in handy when you want the exact same computing environment on another computer (with the usual Intel caveat of: Well, yeah, except that drive, created from a computer running the PowerPC version of OS X, won’t boot an Intel Mac ).

  
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