Fix for Mac Randomly Asking for Password to iCloud, FaceTime, Messages
A notable amount of Mac users have discovered that a random OS X password popup window can appear from iCloud, FaceTime, or Messages, any of each asking for the respective iCloud password. The random password request is very non-specific and just has the logo, “iCloud Password – Please enter your password for email@address” with options to cancel or ‘Log In’. This seems to happen in OS X Mavericks with some regularity lately, but it can happen in OS X Yosemite too.
Getting an unsolicited password prompt is enough to spook many Mac users, and that’s for good reason given the increasing importance of protecting passwords and personal data, but fortunately the vast majority of the time these popups are nothing sketchy at all. Nonetheless, if you’re skeptical of the prompt, you can always scan OS X for adware first. Either way, we’re going to show you how to safely address the weird random iCloud password popup prompt and make it stop showing up, thus if you are concerned about the authenticity of the alerts you can handle it without worry.
To clarify, here is an example of what this type of iCloud password prompt window looks like:
It usually appears completely at random and not after any particular attempt to use iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, or any other service, which is what makes it so unusual. Sometimes you may see it on system boot, or logging back in again, or waking from sleep.
Surely many users that see this popup alert just enter their password and click on “Log In”, but that won’t bring up any acknowledgement of authentication or otherwise. Instead, what you should do if you see that iCloud / FaceTime / Messages password request is the following:
- Go to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences
- Choose the ‘iCloud’ preference pane
- Sign in to iCloud at the OS X preference panel – note if you’re already signed in here but still seeing the pop-up message, you can sign out then sign back in to stop that password prompt from happening again
- Close System Preferences as usual
Why go this route, rather than just logging in with the alert window? Two reasons: one, the iCloud preference panel approach seems to actually work to put an end to the popup message. And second, it’s to protect or maybe just train against a theoretical situation, where perhaps a piece of adware or junkware could theoretically summon a similar popup window from a web browser rather than the OS, but with malicious intention for harvesting data or who knows what other scenario. That latter scenario may be very unlikely, but it’s just good practice to not trust random password prompts, regardless of where they come from.
For what it’s worth, iPhone and iPad users may recall that a similar issue sometimes happens in iOS, where a similar password popup appears constantly out of nowhere.
There are a few theories as to why these popups come up at random, but typically you’ll see them after you’ve logged into another Mac or iOS device with iCloud, or maybe after having changed an Apple ID in OS X on a Mac. Also, it could be as simple as a brief service disruption between your computer and iCloud services, whether because of local internet connectivity issues, or remote server issues. I’ve been able to trigger the popup in exactly that scenario by slowing my connection down so slow that it stops transmitting data, then trying to use an iCloud service. Either way, the password popup prompt is probably going to be ironed out in a future update to OS X to stop confusing users as it may just be a bug.