There’s a place in your Mac where you can safely store all your sensitive data like passwords, keys and certificates and access them when you need to. That place is Keychain Access, which can be found in your Utilities folder. You can create password-protected keychains for all the different sorts of private info you have. Now, you may be a little wary of storing all your secret data in one place and having it all protected by one password. What would happen if somebody got hold of it? Obviously you’d end up looking a little dumb, so when using Keychain it’s essential to verify that your password is as strong as possible.
Keychain Access does include some safeguards, just in case something starts to go wrong with your passwords. One is Keychain First Aid, which can verify and repair broken and corrupted keychains. Second, and last resort, is to reset your keychain. You can do this from the preferences in Keychain Access. Under the general tab you’ll find a ‘Reset My Keychain’ button. Press that and the application will revert to the factory settings.
Not everybody likes working with Keychain though and I can understand if you find it a little confusing or if you think it lacks a few features. There are some excellent alternatives out there, so why not give them a try?
- 1Password – Both extremely simple to use and very powerful, it generates strong passwords and adds form filling. Accessible from the menu bar.
- PasswordWallet – Multi-file synchronization, BlowFish 448-bit encryption and a format for generating random passwords.
- Pastor – Offers a good password generator and a simple way to create new entries.
- Wallet – Great interface, Quick Lock and a great built-in password assistant makes this a good choice on Leopard.
- Password Repository – Very similar to Keychain yet with advanced content filtering and color categories.
- info.xhead – Keep your sensitive data in all sorts of smart and password protected categories.