Keychain Tip: Make sense of all the login and passwords

Keychain is a secure way to store all your logins and passwords for applications (such as Safari, Mail, Entourage, Quicken etc) and web sites, just to name some things that use this powerful tool. The catch is when you open up Keychain, you see this list of website URLs and odd names that don't make sense. With this tip, you will be able to turn all that clutter into stuff that makes sense to you and take control of your key chains.

The other day, I was wishing I could change all those names of login/passwords in Keychain to something I could recognize. Instead of seeing "www.mac.com Internet Password," I could change it to ".Mac Site Access - Site Login." I thought I was going to have to wait for Tiger for this feature, since I assumed it wasn't in Panther (10.3). When I took a peak into Panthers Keychain Access application, I had a pleasant surprise.

First, I opened the application, which lives in the Utilities folder located inside the Applications folder on the hard drive. I selected a login/password item and noticed in the bottom pane I could edit all the info, including: Name, Kind, Account (login), Where (URL or app), etc. This thrilled me. The downside was that it was going to take me a few hours to go through all the archaic names and make sense of all my keychains. Now I will show you how you can make sense of keychains.

  1. Open the Keychain Access app located on the drive with Hard Drive > Applications > Utilities > Keychain Access
  2. Select any item in the top pane
  3. In the bottom pane, you will see the info associated with that item
  4. Change the name to something you will recognize easily. For example "ISP e-mail" and then for kind, "POP e-mail login"
  5. Select a different item in the top pane
  6. Click "Save" from the sheet at the top of the window
  7. Repeat steps two through six for all the entries you want to change

Now that you have cleaned up your Keychain Access, you might be thinking that the Safari AutoFill "Names and Passwords" would be updated with the names you changed in Keychain Access, sadly this is not the case. The Safari AutoFill is a separate function and needs to be maintained through Safari.