Recover an Email Account Password from OS X Keychain

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Email passwords need to be some of your strongest. An email address is, after all, often the key to many another account on the web—with personal data, shopping history, one-click purchasing and what not.

So, the typical email password can be difficult to remember—especially for longer periods of time if you access an account mostly on mobile devices, for example, and rarely on the web. What, then, if you lose your phone?

Did you lose the email account with it?

Not, perhaps, if you also set up the email account in an email program on your Mac. Chances are, you told the email program—such as OS X Mail, MailMate or Mail Pilot—to remember the password, and chances are the program saved it to your OS X keychain. From that keychain, you can retrieve the email account password (provided you know the password to it…).

Find and Recover an Email Account Password in Your OS X Keychain

To use Keychain Access to recover an email account password saved in one of your OS X keychains:

  • Press Command-Space.
  • Start typing "keychain access" (not including the quotation marks).
  • Select Keychain Access under Applications in the list that comes up.
  • In Keychain Access, make sure All Items is selected under Category
  • Press Command-Option-F.
  • Type the name of the
    • IMAP server,
    • POP server,
    • SMTP server or
    • top-level domain or
    • your email address for the account you want to recover.
  • Look for entries listing the server, domain or email address.
  • For each item that looks promising:
    • Double-click the item in the list.
    • Make sure Show password: is checked.
    • If prompted:
      • Enter the keychain password under Password:.
      • Click OK.
    • Find the password under Show password:.
      • You can copy the password right from that field, of course; highlight the password and press Command-C.