saved wifi passwords

One of my weaknesses is remembering little details, especially my wifi password. Being the paranoid “they’re all out to get you!” kind of guy I am, I change the wifi password once a week. That means it is very common that I forget what the current password is. So how do I find saved wifi passwords on my MacOS computer?

It turns out that this is actually quite easy. It’s simply a case of knowing which corner of the operating system to look at. Once you know, it’s sitting there right in front of you, and it only takes less than a minute to uncover.

Find Your Current Saved Wifi Passwords In Less Than a Minute

The secret is a Mac feature called “Keychain Access“. This is where your Mac will remember all of your logins and passwords for all of the websites and system functions you use. These logins and passwords are encrypted with your iCloud password, so in this respect, it is no different than say a desktop password manager or a browser password manager.

But you must have Keychain Access enabled on your Mac for the following to work!

How do you find out if it is enabled? Go to System Preferences–>iCloud. Scroll down till you find Keychain. Is it ticked? If so, your wifi password will probably be saved. If it is not ticked, then it won’t be.

So here is how to find your current saved wifi password.

Open Up Keychain Access

On a MacOS, the Keychain Access app can be found in the Applications–>Utilities folder. Double-click and open it.

This is what the Keychain Access app looks like on MacOS Sierra.

On the top left, you will see four Keychains – login, iCloud, System, and System Roots. The one you want is “System“. So click on that.

Find Your Wifi Network

If you look at one of the tables in the middle, you will see that one of the headers is called “Kind“. Click that until everything in that column moves into alphabetical order with the “a”‘s at the top. That is when you will see “Airport network password” and to the left of that, your wifi network name (also known as the SSID). I have blanked mine out for obvious reasons.

If your Mac has other wifi passwords stored, the network SSID’s and the passwords will also be stored here under “Airport network password“. In fact, this might be an excellent opportunity to delete any unneeded ones. Just right-click on the entry and choose “Delete“. It will ask you to enter your Mac username and password to confirm.

Double-Click On The Wifi Network Entry

When you see the network you need the password for, double-click it and this box will pop up.

The name of your network will appear under “Name” and “Account” (again, mine is blanked out). Now, simply click the box next to “Show Password”. It will ask you to enter your username and password twice, and then your password will appear.

Don’t get excited folks. That isn’t my password. Although I heartily agree with the sentiment!

You can now copy and paste the password (if you want) then close the box.

Change Your Wifi Network Password

Notice it says to the password box, “save changes“. Well, you can use that to change your wifi password – if you have already changed it in the internal router box settings.

Think of it this way – you have changed the password in the router box settings, but your Mac still has the old password stored in its Keychain Access memory. So, everytime it tries to connect now, the password will be wrong.

If this is the case, use this box to change the password to the new one. Keychain will then automatically sync, and because Keychain syncs across all MacOS and iOS devices in your possession, your new wifi password will get changed everywhere.

Conclusion

Although I technically use KeePassX for my password storage needs on the MacOS, I am also turning more and more to Keychain Access. I would never abandon either one of them. I see them as backing each other up.

But KeePassX and its ilk do not automatically update wifi passwords – Keychain Access does. So that should be your first – and only – port of call when looking for your current wifi password.

Mark O'Neill
Freelance journalist and editor living in Würzburg, Germany. Former Managing Editor of makeuseof.com (2007-2013), and contributing writer for other sites such as PC World and Quiet Light Brokerage. Specializing in online security and privacy issues.