Mac OS 9 and X use a keychain program to protect and encrypt your passwords. It’s a very handy tool, and allows you to use different passwords for different applications and websites. Keychain is one of the security features that make Macs so infection- and hacker-resistant. Your keychain is password protected, and sometimes that is a problem—like, when you forget your keychain password.
In theory, if you forget your keychain password, you can reset it to your user password. To do this, you go to your Utilities/Applications File and select “Keychain Access.” Choose the Keychain First Aid utility and click “Repair.” It will ask for your username and password, and will tell you if any problems are found. You can have it reset the password to your user password. That allows you to access your keychain but doesn’t change any of the passwords or encryptions in it.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t, the only thing you can do is start over. You’ll have to build a new keychain. You will lose all your passwords, so I hope you have them memorized.
You can delete the keychain by going to the Users file and opening your library. Find the file login.keychain and delete it.
Create a new keychain by going to the file menu and selecting “New” and “New Keychain.” You can use the Password Helper to help you select a strong password, but make sure you can remember it this time.
Instead of deleting the old keychain file, you can rename it. That way it’s still there if you ever do remember your password.
Having a secure place to store your passwords, encryptions and security certificates is a great idea. The password helper makes it possible to create really secure passwords, too. You have high level security and only have to remember one password—the one that opens your keychain. Which (sigh) is one password too many for some of us.