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Mac troubleshooting FAQ: slow-downs and passwords

Christopher Breen, | May 6, 2011
Speed up your Mac, get rid of the spinning beach ball, and recover forgotten passwords

To locate very large files (rather than folders brimming with files), move to the Finder and press Command-F to bring up the Search window. Click the plus-sign (+) button and configure the pop-up menus near the top of the window to read Size Is Greater Than 1GB. All the individual files that exceed 1GB will appear in the list. Find any you don’t need and toss them out. Save this search in the sidebar by clicking the Save button near the top of the window so you can easily pull it up later.


I’ve forgotten my administrator password and can’t log in to my account.

Insert either the installation disc that came with your Mac or a compatible OS X disc, and start up the Mac while holding down the C key. When the Mac eventually starts up, choose Utilities -> Reset Password. In the Reset Password window that appears, choose the user account for which you want to reset the password, enter and verify a new password for that user account, and click Save. Restart your Mac, and you’ll be able to use the new password to log in and access your files.

Keychain Access

Note that changing this password does not change the password of the login keychain—the file where personal information such as Website and e-mail account names and passwords are stored. To unlock the keychain and use this stored information, you must have the original password you assigned to the administrator account.

If you can’t use this keychain (because you can’t recall its password), go to youruserfolder/Library/Keychains and move the login.keychain file out of the Keychains folder. Log out of your account and log back in. A fresh login keychain will be created for you—one tied to your current password that you can start using.

As for the old keychain, keep it around in case you suddenly recall your old password. If you do, you can remove the current login.keychain file and replace it with the old one containing your old accounts and passwords. Log out and then back in. You can now update the old password to the new one by launching Keychain Access and choosing Edit -> Change Password For Keychain Login. You’ll be prompted for your old password and a new password.


I routinely forget passwords for e-mail accounts and Websites. Where can I find them?

Launch Keychain Access (in /Applications/Utilities), locate the entry for the e-mail account or Website for which you’ve forgotten the password, and double-click on it. In the window that appears next, select the Show Password option. You’ll be prompted for your administrator password. Enter it and click Allow. The password you’re looking for will appear in the Password field.


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