With a topic as wide and complex as Macintosh networking, it’s hard to cover every morsel of information. This Appendix zeroes in on a feature that’s not quite central to networking, but can be awfully helpful if you spend a lot of time logging in and out of various user accounts: the Macintosh Keychain.
Apple has done the world a mighty favor by inventing the Keychain as part of its Macintosh operation system. The concept is brilliant: whenever you log into Mac OS X and type in your password, you’ve typed the master code that tells the computer, “It’s really me. I’m at my computer now.” The Mac responds by automatically filling in every password blank you encounter in your networking adventures (and in your Web-surfing exploits, too, if you use a Keychain-smart browser like Safari or OmniWeb).
You can safely forget all of the passwords required for accessing the various other Macs on your network. (Of course, it’s a good idea to write them down somewhere for protection and posterity, in case your hard drive dies and takes your Keychain with it or you want to buy a book on Amazon.com from your PC at work.)
The Keychain feature is also included in Mac OS 9.
Because the Keychain is on all the time and memorizes most passwords automatically, it winds up being invisible for many people. (You do have to go through one step: the first time you enter a password into a dialog box, you need to turn on the checkbox ...