/ Apple Mac Software

How to recover your Pages, Numbers, or Keynote document password

For extra security, you can set a password for a Pages, Numbers, or Keynote document in macOS. With the file open, choose File > Set Password. But what if you forget that password? This is common if you have a Mac with Touch ID and rely on your finger to bypass entering whatever secret you set. (Read to the bottom for a significant warning about this feature, however!)

When you create the password, you see a different option depending on whether you are on a computer with Touch ID available and enabled or not.

mac911 set pages password IDG

Set a password to lock access, but you can rely on Touch ID on equipped machines to bypass entering it on open.

In both cases, however, the app stores the password in your Mac’s keychain for later reference. If you either forget the password or shift the document to a computer without Touch ID, you can recover the password from your keychain:

  1. Open Applications > Utilities > Keychain Access.

  2. Search for the document’s name. You can also look for its entry in the list; it will be labeled as an “iWork Document Password.” (iWork was Apple’s original name for its productivity suite.)

  3. Double-click the entry.

  4. Check the Show Password box.

  5. When prompted, enter your account password. This reveals the password in the Show Password field.

  6. You can copy that or keep it in eyesight as you change or remove the password in your document.

To change or remove the password, simply choose File > Change Password and enter the existing password. Then either type in a new one (and confirm it by re-entering it) and click Change Password or click the Remove Password button. Removing the password with either keychain or Touch ID checkbox selected as above will delete it from the keychain as well as the document.

Here are a couple of big provisos about using a password:

  • If you haven’t stored the password in your keychain, you can’t recover it.

  • If you transfer the document to another computer without migrating the keychain, don’t remember the password, and no longer have access to the first Mac, it’s also unrecoverable.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Harold.

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