Q. I seem to have trouble recalling all my passwords. When I connect the wireless or get my email I am asked for passwords. How do I know which one is needed?
A. Every Mac and Windows computer has a series of username and passwords that control what happens on you computer. These are there to protect your data and information. Perhaps the person who set up your computer chose the passwords and set them to be remembered. Even if they left the password field blank they have set a password. Avoid this option as it can lead to problems later. The answer to your question, you may be asked to enter your password for several different reasons.
First: You would have a login password to your own account. You don’t know about it because when you start your Mac it is remembered and automatically entered for you. You are most likely an “administrator” as well so you would get prompted for a password whenever you install software or install an update. You would see a message that says you need to “enter you password” in order “authorize” and complete the function.
Second: You would also have a username and password that connects you to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The Internet is a toll road – you have to pay to use it so you often have to be “authenticated” to prove that you are in fact the person who is connecting. If for some reason there is a hiccup in the connection you may be asked to reenter the password – even though you have also â€œtoldâ€ the computer or router to remember the “Internet” password.
You can use a router that will make the connection to the Internet for you or your ISP may have supplied you with modem that has the ability to remember the password and make the connection as needed. Most of these devices are pretty cheaply made an often the solution to a sour connection is to restart the Internet modem or router. Simply unplug the power to the modem, wait or a minute and then power it back up. This often cures connectivity issues. You may be advised to do this before you call tech support.
Third: You also have a username and password to connect to your mail server and retrieve your email messages. Again you have to be “authenticated” in order to prove that this is in fact you whom is trying to pick up or send your email. Your email program also can remember your password for you. Again this is intended to make the experience “easy” for you.
You may get asked to enter your password when you send or receive email because the mail server is busy with your account or because the network connection has gone down. In fact you do not need to reenter your password. Once the connection problem is corrected or the mail is processed and received on the server your mail program will successfully connect.
Recently major ISPs have joined forces with Hotmail, or Yahoo, and have been making changes to how email is sent and received. They have been adding more security so you may be experience glitches because of that.
You can check what passwords you have with the “Keychain Access” utility in the Utilities folder. While you are in the Finder, press Command, Shift and U to open the Utilities folder. Double click Keychain Access and you will see a list of keychains and certificates.
Your email keychain will be of the type “internet password” and your wireless password will be of the type “Airport network password”. Look for “pop.yourISP.comâ€ in the list. Once you select an item you can press the “i” at the bottom left of the window to get more information (“Get Info”).
You can click the â€œ[ ] show passwordâ€ check box but you will need to enter your computer login password to see it (Same password you use to install software. That’s your “login” password.)
If you cannot find “pop.yourISP.com” then you have not checked “Remember password in the keychain”. It is reasonably safe to do so since your desktop Mac doesn’t go anywhere. If you use a laptop you may not want this.