Originally written by Troy K.
Besides finding a perfect spouse, I think that one of the more difficult things in life is choosing a password. When I first began using computers, having only a small list of passwords was pretty simple. However as your responsibilities grow and as more and more websites demand password protection, I find it a struggle to keep up. I have already run the gamut of family names and birth dates and now struggle to find the meaning of life, or at least the current passwords, so that I do not forget them in the weeks to come. I believe a coworker has the perfect answers to these password questions. He searches his room for interesting objects and then changes the spelling of them and uses them as his passwords.
The Apple Knowledge Base has a helpful article on how to choose a good password. In this article are hints on how to develop good passwords and where to use them.
Good passwords are over 8 characters long and contain a mix of many different character types. Avoid using city names, street names, names of people (real or fictional), pet names, words found in a dictionary or popular book, phone numbers, birthdays, anniversaries, or simple combinations of these. Avoid using a recognizable spatial pattern of keyboard characters, such as a couple diagonal lines of keyboard keys, such as “njimko”.
However, creating a good password is only half the battle. You then have to figure out if this is a password that you are going to use forever, or if it is something that you are going to change often. A good password for your user account on your own machine is something that you may never have to change, so it can be something pretty complex. However there are a lot of websites out there that require you to change your password often. On Apple’s Service Provider website, for example, you are forced to change your password every three to four months. In addition to that, if your web browser is idle for more than several minutes, you have to log back in. Needless to say, having a good secure password that is easy to use is essential.
In the above mentioned Apple Knowledge Base Article, you will also see some great links on how to change passwords in multiple venues such as Keychains, Open Firmware, Safari, and your System Preferences. However, if you use Apple’s Filevault feature of OS 10.3 and you lose its password, you are out of luck and will lose all of your data. Be especially careful with that password! Resetting a user account password in OS X is one of the most common phone calls we get here at
Small Dog, and it is a fairly simple procedure. Here is an excellent article from the Apple Knowledge Base that will tell you how to do this from OS 10 to OS 10.4: