I am having a very severe issue. I erased my Mac’s disk and reinstalled macOS High Sierra yesterday (I was already on High Sierra before reinstalling). I made copies of the drive before wiping it and I have all the data of the old disk at hand on external drives. (This is not a question about any kind of data loss, no loss occurred.)

Just after my clean install I wanted to reinstall all the passwords I had saved in Safari (I just store them locally, without using iCloud sync). I was absolutely convinced they were stored in the session Keychain, so I just opened the clone of my old disk and then ~/Library/Keychains/login.keychain-db and I almost had a heart attack when I saw they were not there. There was a lot of stuff, including my WiFi passwords, iMessage, App Store, Steam passwords, certificates and so on, everything was stored there EXCEPT all the Safari Internet passwords. So I tried to copy the whole Keychains folder to my new install and replaced the new one with the old one. This had no impact. Still no passwords in Safari. Because I don’t use sync services I have literally no way to access these passwords ever again if I don’t find the file where they were stored. Where does Safari 11 usually stores locally saved passwords on High Sierra? This is a very serious issue, I am locked out of literally everything including important documents.

1 Answer 1


Your login keychain should be where your passwords are stored. But it's worth noting that there is a "System" keychain in /Library/Keychains as well. Additionally did you log out/restart and log back in after replacing the keychains?

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    Logging out and logging back solved the problem! Thank you so much! This is suuuuper shady stuff though. I finally understood that Safari passwords are not stored in the actual login keychain, but in other, hidden files (also in the Keychains folder) that are loaded at login. They then somehow appear in KeychainAccess.app as 'local items' and seem to follow special rules, because they cannot be exported as a single keychain, they must be copied one by one. Very shady behavior indeed...
    – user186048
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 14:15
  • Hmmm, I'm not sure about the hidden files, while I have some in my keychain directory, they're all empty and old. To the best of my knowledge all the Safari items are stored in the keychain proper.
    – moneyt
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 2:33
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    There were some changes recently. There are new keychain items stored in directories with cryptic names. Safari seems to store passwords in these keychains. They are meant for iCloud sync, but even if you don't sync keychains using iCloud, they are used. Unfortunately they are encrypted, probably binding them to the hardware. I moved my SSD to a new machine after the old one died and I seem not to be able to restore them. Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 16:36

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