Why does Google’s Chrome browser ask for your Mac Keychain password?

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?

“Google means well with this poorly presented request. It is its way of asking whether it can keep your passwords in sync with other copies of its browser,” Rob Pegoraro writes for USA Today. “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 passers-by, change a hidden and experimental setting, or do both.”

“This situation can arise if you enable Chrome’s optional sign-in feature, which syncs your browser use — not just bookmarks, but open pages, settings and passwords — across multiple devices,” Pegoraro writes. “If you’d already saved Web passwords in Apple’s Safari browser, Chrome will ask whether 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,” Pegoraro writes. “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…”

Read more in the full article here.

45 Comments

  1. I want as little Google in my life as possible, so it’s very discouraging that as of today, Chrome is the best browser I can find to run on my Mac. Why can’t Firefox and/or Safari keep up or excel in this category? Disappointing…

      1. agreed… no reason to let the browser know your passwords… the way things are, it is best to keep your passwords in your brain…. yikes… what if they ask for access to our brains?

        1. I just wonder what people do to say that they just cant do without a particular browser. Chrome is banned from my new Mac and cant see what about it I would miss more than being free from those continuous requests to access my data reasons ‘unknown’ (via little snitch) that I cant permanently refuse. Indeed it offers nothing of worth to me at all.

          1. My normal browser is Safari, but since my computer is otherwise Flash-free, I fire up Chrome if there’s some Flash content I want to see, which is maybe 1-2 times a week.

            It’s a decent compromise–I don’t get pestered by Flash during my normal browsing activities, and whatever extra privacy-invading stuff Google’s cooked into Chrome rarely affects me.

            1. I agree totally. I am flash free, unless I must run it and it runs within Chrome. That is the only time I boot up Chrome. And, most of the time, when I encounter Flash content, I have Safari emulate the iPad Safari using the Develop Menu. If the website does not switch to HTML5, then I click on past it. Eventually, website developers and others will get the message that they are losing hits and viewers because of Flash.

    1. Applejojo – Iv’e used al browsers and still find safari to work the best for what in used to – if you started using Safari I bet you won’t go back… Paul your right not any real good reasons to use goggle chrome at all.

      1. Can’t answer with a lot of technical expertise, just my user experience. Some of these are bigger issues than others, but… 1) Chrome seems faster. 2) Flash built-in to Chrome, so Flash doesn’t seem as invasive to the rest of my system. 3) Regarding Safari, delete key doesn’t go back a page — no biggie, but it’s there. 4) Regarding Firefox, update schedule is crazy, and it’s been buggy for me since about v20. 5) Netflix and other video streaming seems smoother. Trust me, I hate all things Google, from the snake that slithered into Apple’s boardroom, to their total disregard for privacy. But I’m in a browser just about all day, every day, and I do want the best performance. I do periodically check the others to see if I can give Chrome the boot, but so far I’m always disappointed.

        1. Those don’t seem like good reasons to give Google access to your whole on-line life, including your banking passwords. I can’t think of any reasons that would.

        2. You are mistaken on a lot of this.

          1. Go to http://www.apple.com/safari/
          You will see some information that directly conflicts with your assessment. Scroll through this page and you will see some information as a direct COMPARISON between Firefox Safari and Chrome. Unless Apple is lying (i very much doubt) Safari beats both Firfox and Chrome.

          JSBench Suite BenchmarkSunSpider JavaScript Benchmark
          Safari
          6.4x faster
          Chrome
          1.1x
          Firefox
          Baseline

          2. Flash is “BUILT IN”. You say. Excuse me, but it is a bit of software that Adobe provides Google. It is NO MORE BUILT IN as it is to Safari. Safari gives you the option to not run it if you wish. Thats all! There is no advantage here. I actually prefer to have it separate so I can disable it.

          3. Safari doesn’t allow the delete key to navigate backwards?? Just swipe your mouse touchpad or any touchpad back or forward and Safari navigates directly there. Try getting used to touch controls.

          3. You won’t see me defending Firefox

          4. Again you say it “seems” smoother like it is actually true. Because Netflix is smooth whenever I use it on Safari. I don’t see any unsmoothness whatsoever.

          1. Paul, gavin, Zeke — thanks for the comments. Gonna cross my fingers and give Safari another whirl. I think I’m done with Firefox, and I really do want to de-Google my life. Still pissed that Apple didn’t buy YouTube back in the day. And silverhawk1 — I don’t know which statements you’re referring to, mine or Paul’s, and nobody knows why you smell what you smell.

            1. I think you are dead on silverhawlk, I think a lot of the trolls on this site are actually just one person (have noted that kind of behavior several times (one troll confirming another with very similar style and phrasing))
              and you’ll note that he is gaming the vote counter and has given himself 8- 5 star votes.

            2. Ok I’ll take you are your word, but really… you couldn’t tell he was just trolling?
              (chrome is “less invasive”, “smoother” and the delete key goes back a page… really, really? come on)

      1. BLN is just anti English as you’ve proven with multiple posts, sad individual. If you don’t like iOS 7 don’t use it and whilst you at at it perhaps try to grow up a bit.

    1. Thanks Captain Obvious, but the issue that this article addresses is how to stop Chrome from asking since it doesn’t have a “Permanently Deny” in the pop-up window.

    2. Yes but it has access to any it (chrome) put in there.
      What it is asking for is access to your entire keychain’s logins to any site from any application.

      Considering googol’s (less than stellar) record, IMHO any one that would give the creepy sleazes at googol access to their keychain should have their collective heads examined, but obviously people will do crazy things.

  2. Tried Chrome when it first came out on Windows and it was lame, and never tried it again. I stick to Safari for everything. Well, except for porn; I use FireFox for that.

  3. Chrome’s Keychain integration is flawed – it asks for permission against every key (username+password) linked against a given domain (site), rather than only asking once you’ve selected which key to use, as Safari does.

    The author stating that you should deny this request on your own computer is poor advice. The Keychain is secure so long as you have set a reasonably secure login password on the computer. Clicking Always Allow is what I do, because I want my passwords safely stored for future use.

    Google needs to fix Chrome’s Keychain integration to work better, not remove or disable it entirely.

    I’ve use a mix of Opera and Safari as my primary browsers. Chrome was my primary browser for several months, but I gave that up after Opera showed me its prowess.

  4. Every browser I use has its benefits and its deficits. Safari has some current problems. But so do all the others. I won’t do the listing-them-all-out thing.

    I end up using Safari most of the time because it’s the most useful and functional. But I always have an add-on loaded copy of Firefox around for some important things. Occasionally I turn to iCab (which I financially support) for things neither Safari and Firefox can do very well, usually related to obscure scripting rubbish. I dumped Chrome a long time back, but lately have been keeping the latest stable release from Chromium project around for some occasional use. I never, ever sign into Google with Chromium and never give Chromium access to my keychain. There’s no point in trusting Google.

    1. True Dat

      Keep your passwords on your device with something like 1 Password. For the security conscious or merely paranoid, avoid the Dropbox or iCloud syncing options.

      Chromium has some nice stuff like built in translation that is lacking in Safari. Chromium is also stable when doing large surfing safaris with lots of web pages/tabs open.

      Safari still gets unstable and crashes after extended sessions. This reared it’s ugly head when Apple added top sites and other worthless bullshit to the browser.

      The iCloud syncing of webpages open is also a laggard compared to Chromium.

      1. Dropbox: I’m devilishly clever by feeding it an encrypted sparse bundle image. Have fun with THAT NSA! Hahahahahaha!

        Safari: You can install the ‘Translate’ extension from SideTree.com.

        Safari: The consistent problem in v6 has been whenever Safari hits the ceiling of available RAM. People like me screamed bloody murder at Apple about it. 6.1.1 at least is better at recovering from after it has banged its head. Version 7 uses Maverick’s compressed RAM memory, which helps as well. As I am always ranting, the BANE of programming these days is STILL memory management. I get the idea that it is simply too complicated for mere humans. And we think we’re going to create actual artificial intelligence. Yeah, right.

        I don’t believe I’ve tried iCloud or Chromium syncing of open web pages.

        Anyway, as usual, diversity rulz. Competition is the father of innovation, and so forth. I wish there was one MASTER web browser that could handle all the web code thrown at it, but there isn’t. I wish they were ALL equally fast at ALL tasks, but they aren’t. I wish there was ONE holy, pristine and perfect, incorruptible set of web standards. but I get the idea that’s NOT gonna happen, despite rhetoric to the contrary. *shaking head in frustration*

  5. I hate Safari and Firefox for just one reason…. every time I try to use them they require me to enter a user name and password. Chrome doesn’t. How can I solve this problem?

  6. Since Chrome is a 32-bit browser and Java is 64-bit, Java will not run in Chrome on a Mac. That and it runs faster than Safari. These are the reasons I use it.

  7. Never used Chrome, always has issues when installing it. I use Safari as my main but keep copies of Firefox, Torch, and Maxthon just to keep up on whats new with browsers.

    if I had to choose to replace Safari I’d probably go with Torch. It’s Chromium based (I think) and has several built-in features (video downloader, torrent downloader) that would make it worthwhile, just not enough yet to replace Safari.

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