How to Set up and Use iCloud Keychain

Find and manage your passwords on Mac and iPhone

iCloud Keychain is Apple’s password manager that’s used on Mac and iOS devices such as the iPhone. This tool stores login information for websites and apps so users can access these services quickly in the future without having to manually reenter account information each time.

iCloud Keychain is only available on smart devices running at least iOS 8.4.1 or Mac computers with OS X Yosemite 10.10.5 or higher installed.

Is iCloud Keychain Safe?

All user information is saved on the device and on iCloud servers via end-to-end encryption, which protects it and prevents even Apple technicians from accessing it while it’s being uploaded or stored at their data centers. This added security is possible due to a unique private key that’s associated with the hardware and the device’s passcode.

While your account usernames and passwords are generally considered to be secured within iCloud Keychain, and the service can speed up your access to websites and apps, it is important to remember that, with this service enabled, most websites will log you in automatically.

This can be great for you and your productivity, but it also means anyone else using your device with the same account will be given access to the same sites and apps as well. Because of this, you may wish to limit iCloud on some services and manually log in the old-fashioned way.

What Is iCloud Keychain, Apple Keychain, and iOS Keychain?

The official name used for the Apple password manager is iCloud Keychain, though some people and online resources casually refer to it as Apple Keychain, iOS Keychain, or even just Keychain. Some settings in iOS and macOS also refer to iCloud Keychain as Keychain.

There is no Keychain app as the service is a part of Apple’s operating systems on Mac computers and on the company’s smart devices such as the iPhone and iPad. If you use a Keychain app, it's likely a different service.

How to Turn on iCloud Keychain on a Mac

iCloud Keychain is likely already enabled on your Mac, but if it’s been turned off, you can turn it back on.

Select the Apple menu at the top of the screen and choose System Preferences. Choose iCloud (in macOS Mojave or earlier). In macOS Catalina, click Apple ID and then choose iCloud in the sidebar. Click the box next to Keychain to activate it.

iCloud preferences with Keychain highlighted

How to Turn on iCloud Keychain on iPhone

  1. On an iPhone, open Settings.

  2. Tap your Apple ID or name.

    If your Mac is running Mojave or earlier, you can jump to the next step.

  3. Tap iCloud > Keychain.

  4. Tap the switch or box next to iCloud Keychain to turn the password manager on.

    Path to activation slider for iCloud Keychain on iPhone in iOS

How to Find Saved Passwords on a Mac

To find saved passwords on Mac, open Safari. Select Safari in the menu bar and choose Preferences. Select the Passwords tab and enter your credentials to see the passwords screen.

Passwords preferences screen on a Mac

Select the website you need the password from. A drop-down window displays the username and password for the account.

Account window containing username and password

How to Find Saved Passwords an iPhone

To find website passwords on an iPhone, tap Settings > Passwords and then tap the name of a website.

On the screen that opens, you can view the password. Tap Edit to reset the keychain password, change the user name or delete the information entirely.

iOS Password screen

If you don’t see the website you want on this list, it’s possible you manually selected not to save the login info when first visiting the site. You may also have used another password manager app or a different web browser that could have saved the data within its own settings.

Forgot keychain passwords and usernames? This information can also be useful if you need to enter an account login information on a device that doesn’t support iCloud Keychain as you can view the individual username and password by tapping on each website name from the list.

What Is Keychain Password?

If your iPhone or Mac ever asks you for a Keychain password, it's likely you need to reenter your Apple ID. Your Apple ID is the same account used for buying apps from the App Store and media on iTunes.

If this doesn’t work on a Mac, you may need to reenter the password you set up for the computer itself. This is usually different from your Apple ID and is used to prevent others from logging in once you turn your Mac on.

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