How to Make Mac OS X Mail Forget a Password

How to Remove Password From Your Mac OS X Keychain

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Trashing your OS X Mail passwords is not that hard. © Florian Eder; CC BY-SA 2.0 license

OS X Mail keeps email passwords in the "keychain"; deleting them from there—and OS X Mail—is easy.

Why Would Anyone Want to Delete a Password?

You do not want to type your email account's password every time Mac OS X Mail checks for new messages—and you don't. Mail keeps the password instead and logs you into all accounts automatically.

What if you want to rid yourself and Mac OS X Mail of an email account password, though, because you've closed an account, for instance, or Mail automatically assumes log-in information that it previously stored but which now you do not desire when you set up an account anew?

Fortunately, all email account passwords saved by Mac OS X Mail (and many an other Mac email program) are stored in Mac OS X's repository of certificates and credentials, the "keychain".

Removing a password from your keychain is fast and easy.

Make Mac OS X Mail Forget a Password and Delete It from your Mac OS X Keychain

To delete an email account's log-on information from your Mac OS X keychain and have Mail forget the credentials:

  • Close Mac OS X Mail (or any other email program using keychain to store passwords) if it is running.
  • Open Keychain Access.
    • You can find it in the /Applications/Utilities folder or by using Spotlight, of course.
  • Highlight Passwords under Category.
  • Press Command-Option-F.
  • Type the email address or user name of the account you want to delete.
    • You can also search for the server name.
  • Look for an entry of the kind Internet password whose Where: field begins with
    • "imap://",
    • "pop://" or
    • "smtp://" and
    has the account you want to delete listed under Account:.
  • Make sure the item you want to delete is highlighted.
    • You can highlight more than one at a time by holding down the Command key when clicking to select.
  • Press Backspace.
  • Now click Delete under Are you sure you want to delete "___"?.

Restart Mac OS X Mail or, of course, your chosen email program.

(Updated January 2012)