Apple Keychain Overview: What it is and Why You Should Use it

With Apple’s password management system, iCloud Keychain, you can store your most important information across multiple devices in a secure manner. This information includes your account names, passwords, and credit card numbers, when applicable. Better still, this information is sync-able across your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

In this article, you’ll learn more about iCloud Keychain, how to use it, and best uses.

What is iCloud Keychain?

Apple’s iCloud Keychain offers one, secure location to save personal information. Perhaps most importantly, it remembers this information so you can auto-fill content across the web and apps such as usernames/passwords, credit cards, and social log-ins. You can use iCloud Keychain to store Wi-Fi passwords and credit card information.

iCloud Keychain information is protected with end-to-end encryption, Apple’s highest level of security. Your data is protected with a key stored on your device, combined with your device passcode. Without these two pieces, no one can access this data, including Apple.

iCloud Keychain is turned on during the setup process on each Apple device. If you didn’t activate the tool during setup, you could do so later at any time across your Apple devices.

How to Turn On iCloud Keychain: iPhone and iPad

On your mobile device:

  1. Tap the Settings app on your Home screen.
  2. Choose your name at the top of the device.
  3. Select iCloud.
  4. Tap Keychain.
  5. Toggle ON Keychain.
  6. Follow any additional directions you may have, depending on your device.

iCloud Keychain setup iOS

How to Turn On iCloud Keychain: Mac

  1. Click the Apple icon at the top left of your Mac screen.
  2. Choose System Preferences.
  3. Select Apple ID.
  4. Toggle ON Keychain under iCloud.
  5. Follow any additional directions you may have, depending on your device.

Mac iCloud keychanin

Generating Passwords

The No. 1 reason to use iCloud Keychain is to store usernames/passwords for websites and apps, when applicable. Doing this is slightly different, depending on your device. The information is stored in the same location, regardless of where the combination gets used, which makes sense when you better understand how it works.

For example, let’s say you create a username/password on the New Balance app on iPhone. Once saved to iCloud Keychain, that combination is also used on the New Balance website on Safari. Better still, the tool knows this and will recommend the combination accordingly.

About Strong Passwords

When you go to create a new password through Safari or an app, you’ll notice a choice to Use Strong Password. When selected, Apple auto-generates a password that includes eight or more characters, upper and lowercase letters, and at least number. Sometimes a website or app doesn’t allow this combination. In those cases, you’ll need to create a password that matches the individual requirements.

Creating a Username/Password – Safari

The following directions work on the Apple Safari app, regardless of your device.

  1. Create a new account on the website you’re visiting.
  2. Tap Use Strong Password or create your own password.

Create web user

Using Username/Password Through an App

Once you’ve created your personal information through the web, you can use it to authentic your account on the company’s website, when applicable.

  1. Tap Log In in the app.
  2. Tap Passwords in the box.
  3. Take the username/password combination under Suggested Passwords.
  4. Accept the combination in the app.

Using iCloud Password on iOS

Note: iCloud Keychain isn’t perfect; occasionally, usernames/passwords created in one location won’t carry over to another. In those cases, you’ll have to add them manually.

Managed Your Saved Passwords, Other Information

You can find a running list of your saved iCloud Keychain information in both Safari (on Mac) and the Settings app (on iPhone and iPad). You can update or delete this information at any time. When you do, the changes sync across the rest of your devices.

To Find iCloud Keychain Information on Mac

  1. Open the Safari app on your Mac.
  2. Choose Safari > Preferences on the left side of your Mac toolbar at the top.
  3. Click the Password tab. Log in using your system password.

Mac web passwords

From here:

  1. Use Search to find the website you’d like to review.
  2. Highlight the website you wish to check.
  3. Choose Details to view the website username and password.
  4. Make changes, as applicable.
  5. Select Delete to remove the website information or Add to add new website information.

Mac web passwords

To Find iCloud Keychain Information on iPhone or iPad

On your mobile device:

  1. Tap on the Settings app on the Home screen.
  2. Select Passwords & Accounts.
  3. Choose Website & App Passwords.
  4. Use Search to find the website you’d like to review.
  5. Tap the website you wish to check or swipe right-to-left and select Delete to delete the listing.
  6. Choose Edit to make changes.

iCloud Keychain iOS

What About Credit Cards?

When you add credit or bank card information on a website or app, iCloud Keychain will suggest saving the information for later use. When you do, you’ll receive a prompt to use that information when you attempt to make a purchase elsewhere. Again, this only works on the Apple Safari website and apps. iCloud Keychain will automatically add your card number and expiration date. However, you’ll need to add the 3- or 4-digit security code every time.

iCloud Keychain credit card

To Adjust Banking Card Information

You can change or delete bank or credit card information on iCloud Keychain through Safari and iPhone/iPad. On Safari on Mach:

  1. Open the Safari app on your Mac.
  2. Choose Safari > Preferences on the left side of your Mac toolbar at the top.
  3. Click the Autofill tab. Log in using your system password.
  4. Choose Edit next to Credit cards.
  5. Select Add to add a new bank card.
  6. Highlight the card you wish to delete, then click Delete.

Mac credit card

On the iPhone or iPad:

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Safari.
  3. Choose AutoFill.
  4. Select Saved Credit Cards.
  5. Tap Add Credit Card to add a new card.
  6. Highlight the card you wish to delete, tap Edit.
  7. Select Delete Credit Card.

iOS Credit Card

Hacking is a significant problem across all platforms and devices. To better secure your personal information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card information, use iCloud Keychain. It’s free and available on macOS, iOS, and iPad devices.

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