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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Reveal forgotten passwords masked by asterisks using the free Asterisk Key utility.

Asterisk Key is a small bit of software that reveals your masked password....

This is one of those tiny utility programs that is an absolute Godsend when trying to solve certain computer problems, read on for full details of how to use it.

If you use Outlook Express as your email client and have never used anything else (i.e. Webmail) then its likely that you may not remember what your email password is. Its not a problem while everything is working well but what if your hard disk crashes or your pc security gets compromised due to some malware and you want to change your password. Looking in the email Account part of Outlook Express will only show you your password as a series of *s so unless you can guess what it was by how many characters long it is then you are stuffed. Not a problem though because the Asterisk Key utility will decode the password for you.

Here is my Scenario for why I found the Asterisk Key program so invaluable.
I had to look at someone's computer recently whose security has been compromised due to an infected webpage installing some nasty software onto the system which has made the system untrustworthy. In order to protect it I wanted to change the e-mail password in case the software had stolen it. So I disconnected the internet from the infected PC, the person could not remember what the e-mail password was and could not find where it was written down either.

I then used a different PC and logged onto the ISPs website and tried to use their "forgotten my password" option in the webmail section, this asks various security questions and then asks for you to type in a new password you want to use BUT that was not working. It just showed "An internal error has occurred please try later" which I did but but it was still not working. This left me with a bit of a conundrum, how can I get the password? After searching for quite a while for software to retrieve passwords, most of which you have to pay for I stumbled across "Asterisk Key", not only was it free but it did exactly what I needed.

So if YOU are stuck in this situation of trying to work out what the password is then this software is for you.

Download "Asterisk Key" by visiting the webpage here


Click the blue Download button (top right of the webpage)
The downloaded file is only 452Kb (last software update May 2010).
It works on all Microsoft platforms 98/NT/2000/2003/XP/Vista and Windows7
The installation is pretty quick and simple requiring just a few mouse clicks.

How to use the software to get your Outlook Express pre-stored password back.
1) Run Outlook express
2) Goto the tools drop-down menu and select Accounts.
3) Click on the Mail tab at the top and select the email account you want to find the password for (you may only have one account).
4) Click on the properties button.
5) Click on Servers tab at the top.
6) In this panel, below Account name: is the Password area which will be filled in with asterisks like this ********
7) If you have not already run Asterisk Key do so by Going to the Windows Start button and across to Programs then select Passware and then Asterisk key.
8) Click on the Recover button and within a couple of seconds it will convert your masked ********'s into your actual password, as per my screenshot (note I made this email account up for this demo)
Its worth noting that when you click the Recover button it actually hunts for any masked passwords that are currently on-screen, so if you have two web pages open and Outlook Express then it will show all three passwords.
9) Now you know your password write it down somewhere safe, Quit Asterisk Key.

I notice that the company also have lots of other software for specific password recovery on certain programs such as Excel, Word, Access, Outlook etc. See their main site:


Hope you find this handy little program of use, I know I did. If so let the world know by posting a comment to this blog post, tell us what program it worked with.

P.S. REMEMBER Now you have used Asterisk Key to retrieve your password write it down somewhere safe, i.e. not a PostIt stuck on your monitor!!!


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