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A. The Macintosh Keychain > A.2. Locking and Unlocking the Keychain

Locking and Unlocking the Keychain

When your Keychain is unlocked, you can open your password-protected FTP sites, iDisk, network servers, and so on, without ever having to tap in a password. Technically, you’re supposed to enter a name and master password to “unlock” the Keychain every time you sit down and log into your Mac, thereby turning on this automatic-password feature. But Apple figured: “Hey, you’ve already entered a name and master password just by logging into the Mac, and that’s good enough for us.” If you work alone and are the only one to use the computer, the Keychain therefore becomes automatic, invisible, and generally wonderful.

But if you work in an office where someone else might sit down at your Mac while you’re off getting an Almond Joy, you might want to lock either your whole Mac or the Keychain itself when you wander away to the vending machine. (Locking the Keychain doesn’t require a password.) Mac OS X won’t automatically fill in your passwords until you return to your desk and unlock the Keychain again.


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