Q. Every time I start up Chrome, it pesters me for access to my Mac’s password Keychain. Should I let it? How do I stop it from asking?
A. Google means well with this poorly-presented request–its way of asking if it can keep your passwords in sync with other copies of its browser. But you should decline the offer unless you use Chrome as your primary browser on a Mac and you can secure your computer against curious passerby, change a hidden and experimental setting or do both.
If you’d already saved Web passwords in Apple’s Safari browser, Chrome will ask if it, too, can have access to the OS X Keychain‘s database of those logins. Unfortunately, the standard Keychain-access dialog only has “Allow,” “Always Allow” and “Deny” buttons–not “Get out of my face and don’t ever ask again.”
After I tweeted a little rant over that, Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin pointed out a fix: In Chrome’s settings, click the “Advanced Sync Settings…” button and uncheck “Passwords.” Chrome hasn’t bothered me with a Keychain nag since.
But even having Chrome confine saved passwords to your own computer can carry a security risk. By default, this browser lets anybody with access to your screen inspect saved logins without further authentication–as you can see by typing “chrome://settings/passwords” into its address bar and clicking the “Show” button next to each entry.
To thwart that, you’ll either need to stop it from saving passwords and clear those already saved (in its settings page, click “Show advanced settings…”) or set your computer’s screen to require a password to unlock after a few minutes of inactivity. That second stop is a good idea anyway on a laptop.
Google took a lot of deserved heat when developer Elliott Kember called out this “insane password security strategy” in a blog post last August. After initially defending Chrome’s system on the grounds that, hey, anybody with access to your computer could run a specialized app to grab your passwords, Google has quietly added an extra, experimental lock.
As upgrades go, this one is exceptionally well buried. The most public notice seems to have been Google+ posts by a Google employee, and the option itself isn’t even in the normal settings interface. Instead, type “chrome://flags” in the address bar and search for “Password Manager Reauthentication”; click the “Enable” button and restart the browser.
From then on, you’ll have to enter the system password to see saved passwords–just as you would in Safari or in OS X’s Keychain Access app. This worked as advertised in OS X, but in Windows 8.1 Chrome said the option was “not available on your platform.”
Keeping passwords in sync and secure across different devices isn’t easy, especially if they don’t all run the same kind of browser. In a multiple-computer situation, I suggest looking past Chrome’s password synchronization and Apple’s iCloud Keychain (limited to Apple’s latest browsers) in favor of LastPass. This Fairfax, Va., company’s encrypted service is free to use on the desktop; a $12/year premium option adds mobile-app support.
Or you can employ a free, cross-platform option I’ve endorsed many times before after hearing it from security expert Bruce Schneier years ago: Write your passwords down on a piece of paper–without clearly identifying which site they match–and stick that it in your wallet. You already know how to keep your wallet safe, and if you lose your wallet that slip of paper will be less interesting to a thief than others that happen to feature portraits of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton or Ben Franklin.
Tip: Chrome now tells you which open page has its own soundtrack
The latest version of Chrome finally brings blessed relief for a bane of modern computing: Wondering which of 10 or 20 open pages started playing music or video. The version shipped Tuesday identifies the offending site with a little speaker icon in its tab; other tab icons incidate if a site is using your computer’s webcam or “casting” its content to a Chromecast player.
I’d prefer that sites and ads had the manners to avoid making a racket until clicked upon, but in the meantime this improvement will do.
if you have any questions about your mac book pro, mac pro, macbook air please call Tech Shield Computer Repair / Mac Repair services
our number is 773 281 4900