Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tip Tuesday: Forgotten Passwords

I love 1Password from Agile, because it means I only have to remember one password. 

The trouble is, it only works within web browsers, so I still have to remember all manner of other passwords scattered about the computer.

Or do I? It's not exactly convenient, but Keychain Access remembers all the passwords that your computer remembers. In fact, 1Password is little more than a nice front end to Keychain Access, which does all the heavy lifting. (Okay, before Agile writes me and gives me heck, it is a lot more than a nice front end to Keychain Access, but the fact remains that it is Keychain Access that does the work of securing the passwords)

As long as you remember your User password, you can get access to any of the passwords stored in the Keychain. 

Say I had a password to ftp into my Eye For Detail Photography Site, but forgot what it was. Maybe I decided I didn't want to use Cyberduck anymore, but wanted to use Transmit. Cyberduck may have auto-remembered passwords, but Transmit doesn't. 

I can open up Keychain Access (under Applications:Utilities), and find the name of the item I'm looking for, in this case www.eyefordetailphotos (while it is ftp access, my host uses a www prefix, not ftp). Double clicking on the name brings up an attribute window. Name, Kind, Account, where, and a blank line with a checkbox "Show Password."

Click on Show Password. Now you'll be prompted to enter in your account password (it's the one that is associated with the User (System Preferences: Accounts: My Account). Assuming you remember this password, type it into the box and choose whether to Deny access (a bit silly), Allow Once or Always Allow. I choose Allow Once so the password is only accessible this once. 

Once you click on that, the password shows up in the formerly empty box. Simply copy and paste this information over into transmit, and you're good to go. 

If you are worried about people using your computer without your permission while you are away, you can deal with that here, too. Under Preferences:General is the option to Show Status in Menu Bar. 

If you click this, a little lock appears in the menu bar. Clicking on that gives you the options to lock and unlock keychains. It also gives you the option to lock screen. This will cause your screen to go black with a dialog box asking for your password. If someone tries to access your computer while you are going to the bathroom, they will be unable to, unless they know your password. And if everyone in the office knows your password, why bother?

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