Set a password hint in OS X so you’ll never forget it again

Having trouble with your Apple Mac's password? Here's how to solve your password problems

Passwords are a pain and no-one likes them, but we are stuck with them. Here we show how you can make sure you never forget your Apple Mac’s password and what you can do if the worst happens.

How good are you are remembering passwords? Of course, obvious ones like 123456, password, qwerty, football, starwars and others are easy to recall, but your password should be obscure and hard to guess. Those listed are from a list of most used passwords that is easily found on the internet. Your password should not be one of those and it should contain upper and lowercase letters, and numbers. 

Easy password generator

One way to create an obscure password that is hard to guess is to use a phrase. You take the first letter of each word in the phrase, and optionally add a number. For example:

I loved New York in summer 2016 = IlNYis2016

The phase is easy to remember, but the resulting password using the first letters, IlNYis2016, is pretty good.

Given that a good password is hard to remember, could the one you use for your Mac slip from your memory?

You might be able to remember your password OK, but what about other people who use your computer? Your work colleagues, partner, children and so on. Might they forget their password?

A password manager like LastPass can help with web passwords, but they aren't much use on the Mac login screen.

You should make it easier for them and for yourself to remember the password required to log in to your Apple Mac by including a password hint. That might be sufficient to jog the memory and bring the password to mind, but failing that, it is possible to reset the login account password with an Apple ID or Master Password.

1 Go to Users & Groups

Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Click Users & Groups.

System Preferences in OS X on the Apple Mac

2 Unlock it

Before you can change any settings, click the padlock in the bottom left corner and enter the admin password to unlock it.

Tick the box, Allow user to reset password using Apple ID. The password used to log in to the Mac can be the same or different to your Apple ID, which is used for the iTunes Store, iCloud and Mac App Store. If the person logging in forgets their password, but can remember their Apple ID, they can use it to gain entry and reset their account apssword.

Users & Groups in System Preferences in OS X on the Apple Mac

3 Set login options

Select Login options in the bottom left corner and then tick Show password hints. This enables you, or whoever is logging in, to get help if they forget their password.

Show password hints in System Preferences in OS X on the Apple Mac

4 Set a password hint

Select your account in the list (second screenshot) and click the Change Password button. When you change a password there is an option to enter a password hint, which is a clue that jogs your memory and helps you to recall the password. Don’t make it so obvious that someone could then guess it.

Set a password hint for your account in OS X on the Apple Mac

5 Set a master password

Click the gear at the bottom of the left panel and a menu appears with an option to Change Master Password. What’s this? A master password is associated with FileVault, the tool that is used to encrypt the disk contents.

If a user has turned on FileFault, the master password can used to decrypt it. The master password can also be used to reset account passwords too. It can be the same or different to your account password.

Change the Master Password in OS X on the Apple Mac

6 Set a password hint

Setting a master password and including a hint is just the same as setting one for your account.

Set a hint for the master password in OS X on the Apple Mac

7 Forgot your password?

If you, or another user of the Mac, are trying to log in to it and cannot remember the password, click the ? icon at the right side of the password box. This displays a menu and it includes a hint at the top, and options to reset it using your Apple ID or Master Password.

Forgot your password on the Apple Mac? Use the options to reset it

You should avoid problems like this by storing your passwords in a password manager. If you use an online service like LastPass or Dashlane, you can access it with a mobile phone, tablet, or another computer and look up your Mac password.

Don't forget that you should be using two-factor authentication for your Apple ID password, and if you are having problems with your iCloud password (keep being asked to enter it?), then there is help here.

 

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