If you’re anything like me, then you have hundreds of security credentials to use at many websites. Best practice dictates that you should use a different password at each one but sometimes that’s just not practical – and, unless you write it down, sometimes you just forget what the password is.
I’m not sure how Windows and Linux applications store passwords, etc. (I suspect they use a variety of methods) but Mac applications tend to use the Mac OS X keychain feature – the equivalent of writing down all your passwords and storing them in one (secured) database.
If credentials are stored in the keychain, you don’t normally need to use them again as the application (e.g. a web browser) reads the keychain as required but users can come unstuck if they need those credentials to log in from a different computer. Luckily, it is possible to find out what the password is for a particular application or website (as stored in the keychain). Simply open the Keychain Access utility, open the appropriate item, select the show password checkbox, supply the keychain password when prompted and click the allow once button – at this point the password should become visible in clear text.