How to Make Mac OS X Mail Forget a Password

How to remove a password from your Mac OS X keychain

Photo of a combination lock and chain on a computer keyboard

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OS X Mail keeps email passwords in the "keychain," and deleting them from the keychain and OS X Mail is easier than it may seem.

Why Would Anyone Want to Delete a Password?

You may want to rid yourself and Mac OS X Mail of an email account password because you've closed an account, for instance. Fortunately, all email account passwords Mac OS X Mail (and any other Mac email program) saves are stored in Mac OS X's repository of certificates and credentials, the "keychain."

Removing a password from your keychain is fast and easy.

Instructions in this article apply to macOS 10.11.2 and later.

How to Delete A Password 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:

  1. Close Mac OS X Mail (or any other email program using keychain to store passwords) if it is running.

  2. In the Finder, go to Applications > Utilities and open Keychain Access.

    Finder in macOS with the Keychain Access utility highlighted
  3. Highlight Passwords under Category.

    Keychain Access on a Mac with the Passwords category highlighted
  4. Under Edit, select Find.

    The keyboard shortcut for this command is Command+Option+F. You can also click the search bar in the upper-right corner of the window.

    Keychain Access on a Mac with the Find option highlighted
  5. Type the email address or user name of the account you want to delete.

    You can also search for the server name: "IMAP," "POP," or "SMTP."

    Keychain Access on a Mac with the search bar highlighted
  6. As you click entries from the results, their attributes will appear at the top of the screen. Look for an entry that meets the following criteria:

    • Kind: internet password
    • Account: the email address you searched for
    • Where: begins with the email provider you want to delete
    Keychain Access with the attributes section highlighted
  7. Highlight the item (or items) you want to delete.

    You can highlight more than one at a time by holding down the Command key when clicking to select.

  8. Press Backspace or Delete.

  9. Now click Delete under Are you sure you want to delete "___"?.

    Keychain Access with the Delete button highlighted
  10. Restart Mac OS X Mail or your chosen email program.

If you accidentally deleted a password from your keychain you may be able to recover it by following the steps in our guide on how to recover and email account password using keychain.