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On my Mac, I need to authorize every system-protected action (installing new applications, etc) with an administrator user/password. I have set my main user account to work as a normal user with no admin-privileges.

I use a long password that is 30+ characters and to be honest, it's somewhat of a pain to type it in many times every day since I occasionally type it wrong.

I am therefore considering keeping my system password in a password manager (like 1Password), and then pasting it from the repository whenever I need it. The caveat here is that macOS doesn't allow pasting into system-password forms.

I figure that this ‘problem’ could be circumvented by an Alfred script that takes the clipboard contents (the password) and then executes an Apple script that keystrokes the contents of the clipboard string to the password input.

Before I even consider trying this, I would like to understand if this would undermine security in some significant or insignificant way.

I recon that Apple has disabled the possibility of pasting system passwords for some reason. Does having sensitive information in the clipboard make it more susceptible for hostile interceptions, compared to passwords that are typed directly and never coherently enter the clipboard?

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    side note: really, it's nonsense to use a so long password. 12+ you are fairly safe. heck, even 8+ depending on your charset. About the security of copying the password, not that it's unsafe but you are introducing a new source where an attacker may get the password from: the clipboard. – eez0 Sep 22 '16 at 16:29
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    @yzT, if it's a passphrase rather than a password 30+ characters may actually be necessary for an appropriate level of security. – Ben Sep 22 '16 at 17:11
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    @Winterflags, I'm not sure if 1Password has implemented it yet (it's been a requested feature) but some password managers like KeePass and some of it's ports (for example KeePassX and KeeWeb) support auto-type directly without the need for clipboard-grabbing scripts. Although I don't know if they work with system passwords (they don't work in some places in Windows). – Ben Sep 22 '16 at 17:24
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Having your password in the clipboard is not safe at all. An attacker would just have to read the contents of your clipboard to elevate his privileges on your system.

Many of the usb 2 factor authentication devices has a button that can type your password when you press it. It sounds similar to using the clipboard but the idea is that you keep the usb key with you when you step away from the computer. I believe yubikey has a smart card version that works with Mac.

  • Don't know about Windows, but on Mac, at least, getting the clipboard contents is extremely simple for local apps (NSPasteboard, or the pbpaste terminal command). And I believe X11 (often used on Linux) isn't secure at all. – SilverWolf - Reinstate Monica Jan 24 '18 at 22:29

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