Tips for Setting Strong Passwords on Your Mac

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

Before you can ever use your Mac, you must configure it by creating an account name and password — an account on your Mac, not to be confused with your Apple ID. The Setup Wizard walks you through this when you turn on your Mac for the first time.

If you’re the only person using your Mac, you’ll probably have just one account (although you should have two — one for admin and one for everyday use). If you disable automatic login, your password can keep others from using your Mac without your knowledge.

As a rule, your password should be difficult for someone to guess but easy for you to remember. Unfortunately, in practice, people often use simple — as in, lousy — passwords.

To make your password difficult to guess but easy to remember, you should create a password that combines upper- and lowercase letters with numbers and/or symbols, such as OCHSa*co2010alum! (which abbreviates a phrase: in this case, Ocean City High School all-star class of 2010 Alumnus!).

When you create your user accounts, take advantage of the Password Assistant to have your Mac create a password for you. Of course, it may be harder to remember but also harder to guess.

One way to create passwords is to combine the first letters of the words in a memorable phrase with the name of a dearly departed pet. By picking a memorable phrase or lyric, such as “I’m walkin’ on sunshine” and turning it into a nonsensical combination of letters, paired with the name of your long-gone hermit crab, Louise (Iw0sLou!se), you’ll easily remember your password, but others won’t easily guess it.

Presumably, someone would have to know you very well to guess which phrase you use with which pet. Pairing these two things that are unique to you makes for a password that’s easy for you to remember but hard for someone to guess.