Why and How to Delete Your Keychain on Mac

Why and How to Delete Your Keychain on Mac

Read Time: 5 minutes Published: March 2, 2023

If you work on a Mac, you have likely seen a pop up asking, “Would you like to save this Password?” That is Apple Keychain. It’s pretty self explanatory, just like on your actual keychain, you have multiple keys, Keychain works the same way in saving your everyday usernames and passwords and stores them on the Mac’s intel Chip secure Enclave.

To put it simply, it’s a built-in way to securely save your login information so it can store certificates, encryption keys, private notes, credit card numbers, and other secure information. While System Keychain holds all of your private data on just one device, there’s also iCloud Keychain, which can sync everything across all of your Apple devices.

There are many benefits to having your computer and phone remember your password. Keychain suggests passwords that are super secure and are more complex, including numbers, symbols and random characters. It also saves you the hassle of getting your wallet out when making online purchases. As you can see, Keychain is pretty handy. So why would anyone want to delete their keychain?

When Your Keychain Gives You Trouble

One of the most common problems users encounter is when they change a password and it does not get synced with Keychain. This could happen if you change the password on the user account to your computer or tablet. If you are onboarding or switching company devices, you could also experience Keychain issues from making a new account or changing your password on your company’s system or server. Either way, this may result in your Mac asking you for the password to your login Keychain, or you may get an error message; “The system was unable to unlock your login keychain.”

If you get the latter error prompt, there should be a button that says “Update Keychain Password,” where you can simply update your information by typing in both the old and new passwords. However, if you cannot remember or are unable to recover the old password, then you will need to create a new login keychain. Take note that this will reset your keychain and you will lose all stored passwords and data that was in the previous keychain. However, if you don’t know the old password and are unable to update it to the new one, then you won’t have access to any of the data, anyway.

How to delete a Keychain on Mac and reset:

  1. Open Keychain Access from the Utilities folder

  2. Go to Preferences in the Keychain Access menu

  3. Click Reset My Default Keychain

  4. Enter the new password to match your account’s password

  5. Log out of your device so that it returns to the login screen

  6. Log in using your new password

  7. When logging back in, it may prompt the following “Do you want to: Create a new keychain or update?”

  8. Choose “create new” on login

Re-organizing vs. Removing Your Mac Keychain

If you are experiencing a lot of login prompts and error messages that are Keychain related, then it might be time to delete your keychain and get a new, fresh start. But it’s possible that you would want to reset or delete your device’s keychain on your own. It’s a good idea to delete your keychain if you are trading in a company computer or tablet for a new one, or if you are returning a company device altogether. Although it’s likely those devices will be re-provisioned anyway (especially if your company is partnered with Electric), it doesn’t hurt to delete your stored passwords on your own, just in case.

In other cases, you may just want to declutter your keychain, or delete passwords to websites or accounts you no longer use or need access to (e.g. client accounts). If you are sharing a computer, then you may also want to delete individual passwords to protect your own accounts. In these situations, you probably would not want to delete or reset the keychain altogether, especially if it isn’t your device.

How to delete individual items in your Mac Keychain:

  1. Open Keychain Access from the Utilities folder

  2. Right-click the entry and left-click Delete

  3. If prompted for permission to modify keychain, enter in your password

  4. Click Delete when prompted “Are you sure you want to delete [entry] from the System keychain?”

Forgetting your passwords is not fun, but being constantly asked for a password is just as annoying. Updating your Keychain passwords or deciding to delete Keychain and start afresh should help solve your problems. If your Keychain issues aren’t untangling themselves, then it’s time to contact Electric.

Not only can our real-time support help to troubleshoot password issues in ten minutes or less, but we can also handle the re-provisioning of company-issued devices. Just think about how helpful this would be if an employee leaves the company and doesn’t leave their device’s login credentials—and honestly, you’d be shocked if you knew how often this happens.

Megan Chang

Megan started her unexpected journey into the IT world with a little encouragement from her first Manager at Apple inc. Megan has 8+ years of IT experience and specializes in Mac. Megan is a Technical Writer at Electric and works on the Operation team to assist in documenting processes both internally and externally.

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