Robert Nicholas (, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Penn State University

updated 9 November 2015


A number of people have run into an issue recently that made it difficult (or impossible) to log into one of the SCRiM-maintained multi-user Macs (primarily in Deike 214 and EES 217b, but also several other machines). The problem occurs when you attempt to log in to a machine for the first time after your PSU password has changed. In most cases, you’ll be presented with the following dialog box:

Mac window with message: the system was unable to unlock your login keychain

Possible Solutions

You have two good options in this case:

(1) select Create New Keychain: This is the easiest option and is highly recommended unless you rely on passwords saved in your keychain on that machine.

(2) select Update Keychain Password: For this, you’ll need to remember the password you used the last time you logged and were not pestered about the keychain. This has the advantage that you won’t lose any passwords saved in the keychain on that machine, but it means you may need to remember a very old PSU password if it’s been a long time since you logged into the machine.

Do not select “Continue Log In”. If you do so, you will likely be confronted with an endless series of keychain-related dialogs that will prevent you from actually using the machine. If you accidentally select “Continue Log In”, log out and log back in, choosing one of the two options above.

Please contact Randy Miller ( if you have any questions about this or find that the recommended options don’t work for you.