Forgot a Wireless Password? Here’s How to Recover Wi-Fi Router Passwords
If you have ever forgotten a wireless router password, whether it’s your own network or another, you certainly aren’t alone. Typically you just have to enter the password once, save it to your keychain, and you can forget about it, right? Well that’s only true until you actually do need the password again, whether it’s for connecting to the router with a new network profile, from a new Mac or iOS device, sharing it with another person, or whatever else. The good news is that it’s actually very easy to recover a forgotten wireless password by using a built-in tool of Mac OS X, and we’ll show you exactly how to do it.
How to Recover a Forgotten Wireless Password (Works with AirPort Passwords)
Before you get started, you will need access to the Mac’s Administrator account and you will need the name of the wireless router or Airport you are trying to recover the password from. Now let’s begin:
- Launch “Keychain Access” located in /Applications/Utilities/
- Sort the Keychain list by “Name” and locate the name of the wireless router that you forgot the access password to, or use the “Search” box to narrow down the networks and results
- Double click on the router name that you want to reveal the details for
- Click on the checkbox next to “Show Password”
- Enter the Administrator password when asked and click “Allow”
- The wireless access password will now appear for you to use
You can actually copy and paste the revealed password right from the input box for use elsewhere, though it’s a bad idea to leave any password visible in plain text for long. Once you’re finished using the revealed password, you should uncheck the box and close out of Keychain so that it becomes hidden again. This is just good security practice, because leaving login details exposed to the world are never a good idea, even if it’s just for a wi-fi access point.
This trick is especially helpful if you use very complex passwords and you need to enter them on a new Mac or iOS device that has yet to join the same network, or if you just need to give the wi-fi router login information to a friend or coworker so they can connect to the internet. Because the Mac stores a history of all networks it has connected to, you can use this to retrieve the wi-fi password on networks you haven’t joined in months (if not years), so long as the keychain has remained intact on the Mac.
I’ve had to use this feature on many occasions when trying to recall passwords to routers that my Mac has had access to in the past, but I just can’t seem to remember. Need extra help about other login details? You can check out some other articles related to password recovery, including how to reset a forgot Mac password and how to bypass a Mac firmware password if you’re completely locked out of a Mac.