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Securing Your Data with macOS and Keychain

Posted on August 11, 2017

Every time a new version of Apple’s operating system arrives, every tech-focused publication on the Internet does a deep dive on the new key features. Occasionally, though, cool bells and whistles go overlooked. Such is the case with the macOS Keychain Access application, which, in addition to storing passwords and account information, can also be used to store and secure sensitive data.

Keychain Access gives users the option to store what it calls “Secure Notes,” alongside passwords and other valuable data. Say you need to store something like a social security number, a lock or safe combination, or something similar. These pieces of information are things that you want to have saved somewhere so that you can reference them at a moment’s notice, but they are also too important to leave lying around on a piece of paper or to store digitally in an unsecured fashion.

By using Keychain Access, you can give your notes a digital storage space while also protecting them from prying eyes. All you need to do is launch the Keychain Access application (you can find it in the Utilities menu) and select “Secure Notes” from the sidebar of the app once it launches.

Here, you will have a few keychain options for the type of record you want to create. If you select “iCloud,” for instance, your note will be locked and secured, as well as uploaded to the cloud and made accessible (with password protection) to other Macs linked to your iCloud account (but not iOS devices). If you only want your note to be available on the computer you are currently using, choose “login.” The “login” keychain is the most basic option available and will simply require a password anytime you try to access that note.

Once you’ve selected which keychain you want to use for the note, click the “+” icon at the bottom of the Keychain Access window. This action will bring up a dialog box where you can enter the title and contents for your notes. Once you click “Add,” the note will be secured. You will need to go back to Keychain Access to find and access it. When you do click on a secure note in Keychain Access, you will need to check a box that says, “Show note” and enter your password before macOS will show you the secret contents.

This method for securing information is beneficial for two reasons. First, no one will be able to access these notes without your password. Second, no one will even know the notes exist unless they open Keychain Access, which probably isn’t the first place most people will look for confidential information.

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