Keychain is a rather powerful piece of technology on your Mac, it is designed to encrypt all of your passwords and keep them safe and secure. You don’t regularly use Keychain on a day to day basis, it is usually accessed by various applications. This post, however, is designed to explain to your a couple of features you should understand, and the ability to keep Keychain in tip top shape. Keychains are like wrappers for individual passwords, you can have many keychains (and even delete them). For the purposes of simplicity I will be sticking with the default keychain.
Keychain will always look similar to the screenshot below. Depending on how long you have being using your Mac, the list will vary in length. The list will contain passwords for applications, system settings, Internet websites (from Safari) and different certificates to make sure everything runs properly. Double clicking on any item will allows you to see its details.
There are two things I want to cover. Editing and adding an item to the keychain, and making sure the keychain is working correctly.
Editing a password in a keychain is rather simple. Simply double click on an item and you will be given its information. An example being an internet password. The dialogue box will show you the URL of the password, the account, comments and the password itself. If you know that a password is in the wrong place, you can find it in the list, and change its details. The keychain will automatically update and the new password will come into effect. This allows you to change an Internet password without using, for example, Safari.
Adding a password is just as simple, from what I gather you can only add Internet passwords for websites. To add an item, go to File > New Password Item. Here you can enter the details such as the location of the password (URL), the username and the password associated. There is also a very handy strength meter to tell you how strong your password is. I don’t see why you would add a password to the keychain this way, unless you were trying to do something specific. I personally just use Safari and allow it to add to the keychain.
The final part of keychain I would like to point out is making sure your keychain is working correctly and doesn’t have any faults. If you select Keychain > Keychain First Aid, you can check the integrity of your keychains and make sure they are working properly. Verify first, and the select repair to solve any problems. Most of the time nothing will be of fault. It will however make sure permissions are correct. The last thing you want is keychain not working.
There isn’t a lot of do with keychain. Most of the time it runs in the background. I only ever go into Keychain to change a password or to check a password. Most of the time you will never need to use it.