Repairing Mail passwords

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Reader Ron Sharp faces a forgetful Mail. He writes:

Since I installed Snow Leopard, the Mail application asks for my login password every time I check for new messages. I haven’t found a preference to set it to automatically use the keychain passwords. Is there a way?

What you’re describing is not normal, so I wouldn’t spend time hunting around in Mail’s preferences. The fact that you’re prompted for a password every time you check your mail suggests that there’s a problem with the keychain where your e-mail password is stored. (If you were randomly asked to enter a password—sometimes yes, sometimes no—then I’d cock a stern eyebrow at your ISP.)

Open Keychain Access (within the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder). Choose Keychain First Aid from the Keychain Access menu. And in the resulting window enter your administrator’s password, enable the Verify option, and click Start. With luck, some red entries will appear in the window, indicating that there’s a problem with your keychain. Now enable the Repair option and click Start. With the same measure of luck, those keychain problems will be repaired and Mail will no longer harangue you for a password.

If it continues to, you could try deleting and recreating the account. Before you do that, select the account in Mail’s Mailboxes list, hold down the Control key, and click on the account’s Inbox. Choose Archive Mailbox from the menu that appears and choose a place to save your archive when prompted. Doing this ensures that the messages for the account aren’t completely vaporized when you delete the account. Ditto for the account’s Sent messages if you like to keep such things.

Now, go to Mail -> Preferences -> Accounts, select the troublesome account in the Accounts list, and click the Minus (–) button to delete the account. Click the Plus (+) button and recreate the account.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Generally faster than Leopard
    • Most applications run in 64-bit mode
    • Rudimentary malware checking
    • Supports Exchange
    • Improvements to Exposé and Dock


    • Many features won’t truly be exploited until Mac hardware evolves
    • Lackluster QuickTime Player update
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