Mail won’t remember passwords

Sometimes, Mail keeps asking you for a password that you know it already has. It asks if you want it to remember the password in the keychain, and you say Yes! And still, you keep getting those password requests…

If you look in Mail > Preferences… > Account Information, you may be surprised to find the password field blank. You may be even more surprised that when you enter it, click out of the tab and hit ‘Save’, the field is blank again the next time you look!

There are a couple of different solutions to this problem, and both revolve around the keychain. One solution is to try a keychain repair. If the repair indicates nothing is wrong, then you have a problem with the access controls. Let’s deal with each in the order you should do them.

Verify and Repair Keychain
1. Go to Applications > Utilities > and double-click to open it.

2. From the menubar, choose Keychain Access > Keychain First Aid

3. Type in your admin password in the field, and click Start to verify the keychain. If the keychain needs repairing, click the radio button for repair and click Start again. Run the ‘Verify’ task one more time.

Repair Access controls
If the above didn’t solve your problem, or the keychain verify/repair task indicated no problems, then you’re going to need to look at the access controls on each Mail keychain.

4. In the left-hand pane, click login in the top panel, and Passwords in the bottom panel.

5. Look for your Mail/imap keychains. Click on one of them, and then press command-i on your keyboard, or click the little ‘i‘ at the bottom of the Keychain window.

6. Click the Access Control tab in the window that pops up. Click ‘Confirm before allowing access’, and make sure Mail is in the list of apps in the window underneath that is always allowed access. Go and do the same for any other Mail/imap keychains in the window, and your problem should be fixed.

7. If the settings above were already configured correctly or they do not resolve the problem, click on the Attributes tab (next to the Access Control tab).

8. Click on the ‘Show password’ box. If everything is OK, you should get a request to put in your admin password. Chances are, though, if you’ve got to this stage you will instead get a message saying ‘Access is restricted’ and no option to do anything about it.

9. If you don’t get asked for the password, close the information box (red radio button, top-left), and control-click on your mail/imap keychain in the Keychain window. Choose ‘Delete <name of keychain)'. Do the same for any other keychain's exhibiting the same problem.

10. You can now go back to Mail, and enter your password in the Account preferences box.

Problem solved! 🙂


About philastokes

Independent Software Developer, Technical Writer and Researcher at SentinelOne. Explaining the unexplainable with images, video and text. Scripting anything imaginable in AppleScript, Bash, Python and Swift.

Posted on January 17, 2012, in Mail and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. There’s a hint here , about keychain locking out, which is what solved my problem

  2. Wonderful information. Detailed. Step by step. And solved the problem.

  3. THANK YOU!!!!!!!

  4. Wish I’d seen this post before driving 150 miles roundtrip to the “Genius” Bar!

  5. 10.8.2 problems. Mac Mail doesn’t remember passwords. I have tried all the steps in this thread. Are there any other suggestions? I can send and receive mail from one ISP, but not from another and also can’t log in to my FTP accounts for web work. And yet, all my mail is accessible through web-mail, but my computer can’t send or receive. I currently use Thanks for any suggestions.

  6. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I have been trying to fix this ever since I got this computer. 2 YEARS! I have tried every concoction of settings I could find. This is the first one that actually shows that it saved a password. Yay!

  7. Genius. I’ve been trying to fix this problem for months. Many thanks!

  8. Just as another suggestion, I had many problems with connecting to my Yahoo account through Mail. It happens every few months. I eventually realized that it was because yahoo was requiring an anti-spam sign in (Captcha) and Mail was not handling it. So I have to go in every few months and manually sign in from and fill in the CAPTCHA. Not sure if this helps, or even makes sense, but it works for me.

  9. Just wanted to say thanks, didn’t think to look at repairing the keychain! 🙂

  10. This didn’t work at all for me. Is this specific to Lion? Mountain Lion? I did exactly as suggested – first step said nothing was wrong. I went and added Mail and it did ask for my admin password – did this for anything that was email or ical related as I also get frequently asked for ical passwords also, and when I returned to mail to add in the passwords again, they still wouldn’t save. Any more suggestions? Cheers!

    • You may have wider permissions problems on your home account. Run the procedures here to ensure that all your permissions are correct:

    • Marvin Pelletier

      Take note, even Apple Care couldn’t solve it…………but through pure effort I discovered that it was occurring because the mail server was near capacity. It wasn’t full but it gets to a point where the web server rejects mail and the notice appears. I deleted the junk and deleted messages, freed up 100MB and it disappeared. To be clear, it was the web client server that was causing my problem and I have been problem free since. I have since informed Apple Care of how I dealt with the issue

  11. Marvin Pelletier

    spoke too soon………………..its back

  12. Marvin Pelletier

    Even Apple One’s support tech could not walk me through this………….thanks

  13. Patricia Hansen

    Thank you Phil for the advice on how to fix my Apple Mail — it worked straight away. Mail not accepting my password happens about every three months or so. In the past, if I wait a couple of days it seems to self correct. All a bit magic to me!
    Thanks to you, I can now pick up emails that have been waiting around.

  14. Three separate machines, ML 10.8.1, mail does the PW loop not long after opening and working elsewhere. Eventually, all will start the doₒp of requesting the same PWs over and over. If I open KeyChain Access before this starts, there are password documents visible under “Login”. If I open Keychain Access after the cycling starts, no such mail related documents are presented. If everything is good and I do a KeyChain First Aid, those Password documents disappear after. When I reboot, all is happy again and Keychain Access shows all the lisitings it should. Any ideas?

  15. Thank you Phil,
    I have had ongoing issues with messages asking for me to re-enter my password on Mail for several weeks. It was driving me crazy but, your solution has fixed it. Thank you!

  16. Emma Johnson

    Help!!! Hi Phil, I wish I had come across your solution sooner. I was having the same problem, started googling, & unfortunately, I took someones else’s advice and have somehow deleted all of the saved “password entries” in my keychains. i.e. the mail keychains of imap/stmp/pop. So now there is nothing in my keychains. And now when I go back to my “Mail preferences” and try and enter in my password, then save it, it won’t!!
    I’m now completely lost. You have helped me before with unistalling Mackeeper, please help again.
    Thanks, Emma

    • Hi Emma,

      do you have any Time Machine or Clone backups? If so, you can replace those keychain files. Let me know if you need help on how to do that.

      If you don’t, please quit Mail. Make sure Mail is not in your login items, or if it is remove it ( > System Preferences…> Users & Groups/Accounts | Login Items).

      Restart the computer and log in. Open Mail. Go to Preferences | Accounts and enter your password details. Close the preferences box and choose ‘Save’ when asked to save changes. Quit Mail.

      Restart the computer. Open Mail, click ‘Get Mail’ in the Taskbar. Does it connect to your IMAP server or ask for a password?

  17. AirPort Utility 5.6 for Mac OS X Lion

    Resolves an issue with using network passwords stored in the Keychain
    Works with AirPort Express 802.11g and AirPort Extreme 802.11g base stations

  18. Bradley Clarke

    Thank you this worked for me, was having the same problem with Mac Mail, after a Time Machine restore.

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