I forgot my password – can I somehow get my auto-login remembered password?

There are tools to recover most of your 'remembered' password. You can use them if you forgot your 'remembered' password, and so can anyone with access to your machine.

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I’ve forgotten my password [to a web site, mail account, instant messaging tool, etc.]. However, I can log in because I have ‘remember my password’ configured, so the computer just logs me in automatically since it saved password. Is there a way I can see what that password is?

Yes.

And that should scare you, because it’s an important lesson about just how dangerous it is to use ‘remember me’.

Why? Because if you can recover it, then anyone who has access to the machine can probably recover it.

‘Remember my password’ doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore, now does it?

When you choose ‘Remember my password’, or any equivalent, the software does exactly that – it saves a copy of your password somewhere on the computer. Sometimes it’s stored in plain text – available to anyone if they know where to look, sometimes it’s encrypted or obfuscated in some way. Regardless, it has to be quick and easy for the program to fetch the remembered password and decrypt it, if needed, each time you login or do whatever it is that requires that password.

And that applies to almost all common applications that save passwords, including nearly all instant messaging programs, nearly all email programs, and nearly all websites that require some kind of account name and password to login.

So it stands to reason that there would be utility programs that also can retrieve those very same account names and passwords.

Let’s start with one that you might not even realize.

Firefox

If you use Firefox as your web browser, do this:

  • Click on the Tools menu
  • Click on the Options menu item
  • Click on the Passwords tab
  • Click on the View Saved Passwords button
  • In the resulting dialog, click on the Show Passwords button

If you’re like me, you’ll be fairly shocked the first time you do this. Yes, you can set a ‘master password’ to protect your passwords, but the default is not to have one.

And anyone who walks by your computer while you’re logged in can do this.

For other programs, you need to download a few simple utilities. Specifically, NirSoft has available several Password Recovery Tools. Included are tools that will display the saved passwords for a host of different programs and situations.

For example, here’s a screen shot resulting from running the ‘MessenPass’ utility on my machine:
MessenPass Screenshot
You can see that it lists, for each IM program I run, the service, the account name and the password. While I’ve obfuscated them here in this example for my protection, the account names and passwords are displayed in clear text.

I’m not guaranteeing it, of course, since there could be many other things at play, but if you’ve lost a password, and you have ‘Remember’ turned on, there’s a very high likelihood that you can grab one of the utilities from NirSoft, and recover it. It’s certainly one of the first things I would try.

Yet Another Word About Security

I encourage you to download those tools and play with them on your own machine. Using them, you’ll see how trivially easy it is to recover many passwords that are merely hidden by the ‘remember’ function of so some applications.

Now remember: anyone can use them.

If you leave your machine logged in, anyone who can walk up to it can insert a CD or floppy with these tools, and get your saved passwords just as trivially.

And while logging out or using a password protected screen saver puts up a barrier, even that barrier, while significant, is not impenetrable.

I want to make sure you remember two important things:

1) ‘Remember my password’ is a convenience, and a security risk. Use it with caution.

2) If your machine is not physically secure it is not secure. If someone can walk up to it, insert a disk and reboot it,
they can take total control. And that includes recovering your passwords with tools as we’ve seen here.

And remember also, that while you’ve just read this article and learned how to recover your remembered password … your ‘friends’ and perhaps those who are not your friends have also read this and learned how to steal your remembered password.

There are 107 comments:

  1. Ken Reply

    And even if you couldn’t “recover” these passwords, nothing stops another person from logging in to your account, changing the password, and having your program “remember” the new password. You would never know this has happened, unless you happen to run another program, or use another computer, which doesn’t know the new password. In the meantime, this other person has full access to your account from elsewhere, without having to have known the password in the first place.

  2. Leo Notenboom Reply

    I’m actually evaluating Roboform right now.

    Roboform will display Internet Explorer cached passwords (only, apparently). That’s yet another security risk, as anyone who can walk up to your machine can install RoboForm and then see those passwords. It’s unclear how/if Roboform handles messenger and other passwords that exist at the time it’s installed.

    Once you install it, it WILL display passwords that it maintains for you.

  3. asasa Reply

    i understand that by using some software such as MessenPass you can see your password in text if someone uses “remember my password”. however, is it possible to recover previous password…the one that you had before your current password. is there a way?

  4. Jack Donnelly Reply

    If you have a backup copy of your hard drive when this password was active, you could use MessenPass or similar programs to recover it.

  5. laura Reply

    what if I can’t reset it by using forgot your password cuz my emails changed, and I don’t have automatic save password on either? Doesn’t teh computer save everything somwhere, i use firefox?

  6. Josh Reply

    How can i bypass the admin login screen wihtout putting a password or a user name.

  7. deedar khan Reply

    i have forgot my password i want to login for a wile to chang it.

  8. Leteslase Reply

    Hi Leo
    I got your idea on your internate I have some questions.
    I forgate the password of my Pc what can I do

  9. Leteslase Reply

    Hi Leo
    I got your idea on your internate I have some questions.
    I forgate the password of my Pc what can I do

  10. amber Reply

    hi there… umm.i have a myspace and a yahoo account i used in new york…now i live in alberta and the computer is at my dads house still…. i have all my friend’s email addresses, phone number etc etc on that comp… i totally forget the password…i tried everything..i dont have the money to go buy some fancy software… iwas wondering if u knew , someway to figure out my password.. its prettymuch a needle in a hay stack…not many people can do it…but if u cud help..that wud b great

  11. karissa Reply

    i forgot my login name on my myspace page how can i find it out

  12. amna Reply

    how do i get my myspace password back i’ve had it for so long and all of a sudden i forget it can u plase help me get it back

  13. paola Reply

    “I forgot my password – can I somehow get my auto-login remembered password?”:

  14. jeanete Reply

    i need to know my password please help me .my boyfriend changed it and i need to figure it out

  15. Tala Reply

    Hi Leo
    I heard and read at your web site a lot of things about you and now my question is I have my own internet account and email account that one who gave me my country organization and I am living Ethiopia I need to change my internet account password but I forgotten my internet email account so how could I change my password with out internet email account? Thanks!

  16. umar Reply

    sir

    i forgat my msn password .plz help me
    to change my msn password .

  17. joy Reply

    i need to know my password please help me .my boyfriend changed it and i need to figure it out

  18. anakaren soto Reply

    I forgot my myspace password and they said they would send it to my MSN but i forgot that password also?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  19. keala Reply

    hi my name is keala.
    its such a bummer that when i made my myspace i put my recent email at that time but then i forgot that password so i made another email. and now that i forgot my myspace password its impossible to find it out cuzzz there sending my myspace password to my old email…. its just carzyyy cann you help me out…
    that would be awsome…..please get back to me…

    –keala

  20. janibel Reply

    hII…i fOrGoT MII PaSSWoRd i HaDeN’T GoT ON 4 A MOntH..caN u plSZ HeLP Me cHanGe mY PaSSwOrd plSZ…!!!!

  21. melissa Reply

    Hi Leo i forgot myspace email can you please help me im so desperate myspace account means alot to me
    greetz from italy melissa

  22. liam Reply

    i forgot my myspace password and forgot what email address i used can i get his account back

  23. jeff Reply

    i forgot mypassword for myspace and im using two different screen names . how can i get my passwod back and without emailing it to my email address?

  24. Josh Reply

    i used another email that doesn’t exist for my myspace email and then i just forgot my password so how can i get the password sent to my new email that i really have?

  25. wintana Reply

    okay so i forgot my password for my myspace and i know u can just hit the button that says “forgot password” well i formy passwrod for my mail account so i dont know what to do know.
    and i dont want to start a new myspace “account” so what do i do now.

  26. BLACKOUT Reply

    I’ve forgotten my myspace password and I need your help.

  27. matt Reply

    I forgot my email address i used on myspace can you please help me.

  28. Bob Reply

    i forgot myspace pw and i used a fake email how can i get my password back plz help!

  29. desanae Reply

    i need my password to my myspace can u give it to me please!!

  30. Julie Reply

    i forgot mypassword for myspace how can i get my password back and without emailing it to my email address?

  31. crystal beltres Reply

    i forgot my myspace password could you please give it to me cause irelly need it. pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

  32. maria Reply

    can you please help me get my myspace password because i really really need it thank you!

  33. Charles Reply

    I forgot my GG client password, could you please tell me the right program to use to recover my “rmembered password”

  34. vicky Reply

    i forgot my myspace password And i use a fake e-mail for my myspace, can you PLEASE HELP ME!!!

  35. Leo Notenboom Reply

    If the article above didn’t help, the you’re out of luck. If you forget your password and you used a bogus email address, there’s no way to recover. ALWAYS USE A REAL EMAIL ADDRESS THAT ONLY YOU HAVE ACCESS TO.

  36. Day-Day Reply

    I forgot my myuspace password and i need it to get back on myspace.Can you help me please?I need to get on myspace as soon as possible.I can’t take it anymore myspace is my life…

  37. Trinity Reply

    I used a fake email address when setting up my space account, and I need to know how to change my email address. Then confirmation emails are being sent to me at Myspace and I cannot retrieve them. Please help me, I have tried everything.

  38. Leo Notenboom Reply

    If the article above didn’t help, the you’re out of luck. If you forget your password and you used a bogus email address, there’s no way to recover. ALWAYS USE A REAL EMAIL ADDRESS THAT ONLY YOU HAVE ACCESS TO.

  39. britni kindred Reply

    i forgot my password can you send it to asap on my yahoo at [email address removed]

    [and no, I can't - read the notes all over the site that say I can't retrieve passwords]

  40. jason Reply

    All i know is myspace is full of sh–…..it says if you forget your password .click on forgot password and they will send it to your email……………..LOLOLOLOLOL……..what a joke it has been 2days and nothing…….peace

  41. Leo Notenboom Reply

    Right above the button you had to push to submit that comment is this text:

    “I cannot recover lost passwords or hacked accounts. “

    Is that not clear? What am I missing?

  42. darral Reply

    I FORGOT MY PASSWORD-CAN I SOMEHOW GET MY AUTO-LOGIN REMEMBERED PASSWORD

  43. Huda Reply

    i forgot my myspace password and my e-mail wont work. wat should i do? how do i figure of my password?

  44. jordan Reply

    i forgot my password to get on my myspace and i need it to get on my myspace

  45. sAMANTHA Reply

    i forgot my myspace password and my e-mail wont work. wat should i do? how do i figure of my password?

  46. sadie Reply

    myspace won’t let me login my password isn’t right or some thing also the computer says my screen name isn’t right to or somthing like that. can i some how get into my myspace?

  47. kevin Reply

    I cant get on myspace b/c i forgot my password. The worst part about it is that i cant retrieve it b/c my email changed. Is there a way i can get to my myspace!!! im going crazy lol

  48. tavia aka sugar Reply

    i forgot my password could u please help me find it, please, i dont know if a hacker stole it or wht, but i cant get to my password, and i forgot it

  49. chris sotelo Reply

    i forgot my password for myspace but cant retrive it because my email is changed please help me

  50. Angel Reply

    i forgot my myspace password do you think that you can help me figure out what it is.

  51. jamelhickey Reply

    i had just forgot my password cause i have not been on in so long

  52. V Reply

    ok heres the story i changed my email on thursday on myspace from veronistar@hot to veronikiux2284@hot when i got the link on my email to verify the email switch i clicked on it and now none of the emails work i tried to retrieve the password but it says that my account dont exist with any of the emails but when i look up my account under veronistar@hot its still active what can i do please help

  53. andrew Reply

    lol i forgot my password to actualy log into windows, it gives me a hint but i cant remember, is there anyway round this, p.s its a laptop

  54. rythrgefw Reply

    is there a way to view ALL of your passwords used on a single account over time? because i lost my myspace password and tried several others off the top of my memory while i still had the save password button clicked is there a way to view ALL entered passwords?

  55. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    No, not that I’m aware of.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFHfoN7CMEe9B/8oqERAmaFAJ0Qz/XqIf8Ek2+SnpXhKgezkCZ74ACfZh1B
    IciNWyKHt1VcRLoPYE1yNcs=
    =AOXr
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  56. poppy Reply

    i have yahoo messenger 9.0 and this software toold doesn’t show ne password for that , though i have clicked on on auto login

  57. James Reply

    I use Firefox with a master password, but Opera is my favourite browser (except when it doesn’t display certain web sites as the designers intended). I prefer the way Opera handles passwords, except that I’ve found no way to retrieve a site password when, for example, a web site doesn’t display and I want to switch to Firefox.
    Opera’s good with cookies, by the way, in that I can delete them all on exit, except for a few sites that I’ve made exceptions.

  58. Jermaine Reply

    i need my password for myspace i have’nt went on it in so long and i forgot it is there a way i can get it if i dont have access to that email address or the password to my myspace?

  59. Sally Reply
    • The worst thing about losing email or other account password is: If you cannot recapture your password, you will lost many important contact information of your friends, colleagues and business partners.
    • One free solution is to answer password hint that you fill in when you register the account. If your answer matches the word that you fill in, you will get the password visa your spare email. To make the matters worse, you may have forgotten what you had filled in.
    • Password Genius can solve this problem easily. It can find out all passwords which you have logged in with your computer. I would recommend you to try it.They promise no-hassle refund if you cannot get your work done

    Check this out: http://www.password-genius.com/how-to/how-to-find-out-my-lost-password.html

  60. Goodfriend Reply

    I recommend use Password Recovery Bundle 2010:
    [Link Removed]

  61. cscindy9 Reply

    This sounds pretty interesting. We used a similar software at my tech support job a few years ago. Called “Windows Password Key 8.0″.
    It works very prefect to regain your password .Also use boot CD/DVD.
    I have download it from this website: http://www.lostwindowspassword.com

  62. zhuliya Reply

    Many of us are usually confronted with this problem-forget our Windows password and have no idea what to do.Now,let

  63. rcmichelle Reply

    Last time I forgot my password and tried everything i could do but failed, until I found this great tool Windows Password Software. It works great, and you can google it.you can try to google it.

  64. rcmichelle Reply

    Last time I forgot my password and tried everything i could do but failed, until I found this great tool Windows Password Software. It works great, and you can google it.you can try to google it.

  65. aydon brooks Reply

    its always signed me in automatically up until i restore my laptop im unable to get my password due to the fact it was that long ago

  66. angie baby Reply

    i think this is wonderful. i’m new.so if i dont know is ok bare with me, on learning the computer.

  67. catina porter Reply

    I have forgot my password to change my old email on my profile on Facebook I have a new email I would like to enter on my profile

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