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 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 any 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.

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:

  • 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.
    • "imap://",
    • "pop://" or
    • "smtp://" and
  • Look for an entry of the kind Internet password whose Where: field begins with 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 or Delete.
  • Now click Delete under Are you sure you want to delete "___"?.

Restart Mac OS X Mail or, of course, 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.