Learn how passwords are used on a Mac
macOS is designed to give you a safe and secure computing environment. The security of your Mac depends a great deal on using secure passwords in key areas.
A login password, also called a user password, allows you to log in and access the information on your Mac. When you create your login password, be sure it’s easily memorable, write it down and keep it in a secure location. Privileges are limited by the type of user. An administrator user is required to perform many important tasks, such as setting certain system preferences, installing software and administering standard users. See Set up users, guests and groups.
An Apple ID gives you access to the iTunes Store, the App Store, Apple Books, iCloud, FaceTime and other Apple services. It consists of an email address (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org) and a password. Apple recommends you use the same Apple ID for all Apple services. When you create your Apple ID password, be sure it’s easily memorable, write it down and keep it in a secure location. You can also use your Apple ID to reset your login password if you forget it. Sign in to your Apple ID account page.
Passwords in iCloud Keychain
Keeping track of passwords is hard, especially if you follow the best practice of never using the same password twice and have multiple devices. iCloud Keychain keeps website and Wi-Fi passwords up to date across your Mac, iOS devices and iPadOS devices. It also keeps account passwords and settings that you add to Internet Accounts preferences up-to-date on your Mac.
When you need to create a new password for a website, Safari suggests a unique, hard-to-guess password and saves it in your iCloud Keychain. Safari fills it in automatically the next time you need to sign in, so you don’t have to remember it or enter it on any of your devices. It’s recommended that you use the suggested strong password presented by Safari when creating passwords for websites and internet apps. See Use iCloud Keychain to keep information safe.
If you don’t use a suggested strong password and need help with a password for a website later, see the website’s help, or the account information on the website.
If you need help with a password for an app that connects to an account on the internet or a network, see the documentation that came with the app or online information that supports the app. For example, if you have a mail account with a service provider or website, see the documentation on the website or contact the provider. See the Apple Support article If Mail on your Mac keeps asking for your password.
Passwords in Keychain Access
Keychain Access stores passwords for various apps and services, and saves you the effort of authenticating separately for each of the items in your keychain. The keychain is secured by a keychain password, which is unlocked when a user logs in. See About your keychain password.
When you encrypt the information on your Mac using FileVault, you can create a recovery key. If you forget your login password, you can use the recovery key to unlock your startup disk and change the login password. The recovery key should not be stored in the same location as the Mac, where it can be discovered.