How to Find Long-Lost Passwords Hiding In Your Browser

Illustration for article titled How to Find Long-Lost Passwords Hiding In Your Browser

Wait just a second before clicking that 'Forgot password?' link—chances are that your browser has your password stored somewhere in the depths of its memory. Head to your browser's cache of login details if you can't recall your credentials, or you're signing in on a new device altogether.


If you've switched on the magical password managing function in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari, then your details should automatically appear when you visit the site again. There are reasons why this might not happen though: If you've switched browsers, cleared out your cookies, logged in from a different page or left it a couple of years between logins then the data might not appear as you expect it to.

A code change on the site's end can confuse your browser too, preventing it from serving up the right username and password combination when you need it. For all of these times, plus those occasions when you're logging in on a new computer or mobile device, you can delve into your browser's memory rather than going through a tedious reset process. Here's how to do it, assuming of course your browser's password management feature has been enabled in the first place.


In Google Chrome, open the Settings link from the main menu and choose Show advanced settings. Click Manage passwords to bring up a list. If there are a lot of entries here, use the search box to look for part of a URL. You can then click on an entry and select Show to see the password—Chrome will prompt you for the username associated with your Windows or Mac account to prove you are who you say you are before showing the password.


If Firefox is your browser of choice, choose Options then Options from the menu. Switch to Security and click the button marked Saved Passwords to bring up the database. Again, you can search for entries or simply scroll down the list. Click Show Passwords to reveal your login information. Anyone you can sit down at your computer can go through the same process, which is another good reason to protect your OS user account with a password.


Internet Explorer

Still rocking Microsoft's venerable old browser? You need to head to Control Panel, then search for "Credential Manager"—click Manage Web Credentials when the results appear on screen. Expand the entry of the site you want to look at and choose Show next to the starred out password. You'll be prompted for your Windows user account password as an extra level of security, and if you can prove your identity then the password will be displayed on screen.



Finally, Apple's browser. From the Safari menu pick Preferences and open up the Passwords tab. You can scroll down through the entries in the list or use the search box to find something specific. Tick the box marked Show passwords for selected websites, enter your Mac OS user account password, and the details for the currently selected site appear on screen. That should give you everything you need to log into the site or app you're using.




And if you actually care about your security, you should turn the built-in password loggers off and use a plugin like LastPass.