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About a year ago my laptop was stolen at the airport. I bought another, but could not remember my Gmail password, not could I remember the answers to the private questions, nor had I registered a call phone with Google.

So, I accepted that I had lost a bunch of memories and created a new Gmail account (being careful not to be so dumb this time).

Here is where it get interesting ... I found an old hard-drive over the weekend; the one which had originally been in the stolen laptop before I swapped it for a larger one.

I booted from it - into Windows Vista and it auto-started my old Google Chat account. Yay!!

From that, I can see my chat sessions - and also my email. But that is a bit clumsy.

  1. I reckon that the auto-login details must be stored somewhere (registry?). Is there any program which can retrieve my password? I tried the utilities from NIRsoft but they did not work. Is there something better?

  2. Since Google chat lets me see my email, is there anyway that I can download it all to my PC? Mybe by using Thunderbird, etc, maybe by a Gmail backup or export function?

  3. I would also like to get back my passwords for yahoo mail & hotmail and for Yahoo chat, but that would just be a bonus, as my Gmail is what I would really like to get.

And, yes, I did write to Google and they were friendly and understanding and cited security issues and would not let me rest the password on the mail account.

I hope that someone will help me and that others will make a backup of their passwords and security questions before this happens to them.

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honestly i doubt it. if this were possible, it may pose a security vulnerability –  That Guy Feb 27 '12 at 0:13
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It has to store the password somewhere, the chance of it being plaintext, pretty slim. –  Rob Feb 27 '12 at 0:28
    
+1 both. Thai, Just strange that I can read my mail from Gogole Chat. Rob NIRsfiit claim to be able to retrieve it (which should not be difficult) and to retrieve to plaintext; check then out. A pity that it doesn't work for me (maybe Vista had a different registry layout?) –  Mawg Feb 27 '12 at 0:47
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To clarify, you're able to view your emails from the desktop chat client, but you can't access the web interface, right? If you can get to the web interface, there's some ways we could help. Not as sure about doing it from just the desktop client though. –  nhinkle Feb 27 '12 at 0:54
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Debuggers would probably provide what you need here. If you could start the executable under some kind of debugger that could capture the un-encrypted version of the login request, just not sure what tools there are that are freely available under Windows these days. Maybe something from the sysinternals collection? –  Zoredache Feb 27 '12 at 1:04
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Try my other suggested method first, because once you reset your password, you won't get back the old one.

If you can get to the gmail web interface, and it sounds like you can, then you should be able to add a recovery email address to your account.

Go to the gmail web interface, click the account drop-down (it'll be your name or username, near the top right), and choose "account settings."

recover gmail account

This will take you to the Google Accounts page. Under the "email addresses and usernames" section, you should be able to click "edit" and add a new email address to your account. Use a non-gmail address. It sounds like you lost some other accounts too, so you may need to create a new yahoo, hotmail, or other such account. Don't use anything like mailinator since somebody else could get access to your account.

Once you add the secondary email address, you'll need to confirm it by checking that email address. Confirm the address. Now, go open a new browser session (different browser, incognito mode, other computer - whatever). Go to gmail.com, and click on "can't access your account." This will take you to a form where you should be able to send a reset link to your alternate email (which you just added).

reset gmail password

Once you receive the reset email, you'll be able to choose a new password, and should have full access to your email again!

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I think, you'll need password to enter Account Settings... –  Sachin Shekhar Feb 27 '12 at 9:12
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It didn't make me enter a password when I tried. YMMV though. –  nhinkle Feb 27 '12 at 16:52
    
+1 to both, thanks, I will try that –  Mawg Feb 27 '12 at 23:49
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Alternate answer: I'm posting this separately because it's an entirely separate method. If you're using the standard Gtalk client, with the password remembered, there is a tool which can actually tell you what the password is.

Install System Info for Windows (SIW). It's free for non-commercial use, and has a lot of handy utilities.

In the Gtalk client, choose to log out. (Click the down-arrow next to the status message box, then choose "log out.")

log out of gtalk

Now, open up SIW. Click the "Eureka" button on the toolbar - it looks like a sheet with a magnifying glass over it.

eureka

This will open up a dialog which lets you reveal the password in almost any standard password field obscured with dots. Make sure the Gtalk window is showing with you signed out. In the Eureka window, drag the magnifying glass icon over the password dialog, then let go. It should reveal the password in the Eureka dialog box.

here's the password!

As you can see, in this case the password was ExamplePassword. Hopefully if you do the same, you'll be able to recover your password. If it's the same as your password on the other lost accounts this may help you recover those as well!

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+1 It's worth a try. I am just worried that I might log out and not be able to log back in again and lose what I currently have. –  Mawg Feb 27 '12 at 23:47
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@Mawg As I said in my comment above, you should export the registry key I mentioned, so that if you accidentally lock yourself out, the data will be saved. –  nhinkle Feb 28 '12 at 0:37
    
+1 but, sorry, I missed it ... which registry key? –  Mawg Mar 1 '12 at 3:33
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@Mawg see here: HKCU\Software\Google\Google Talk. I assume you know how to export registry keys, but if not, let me know and I can tell you how. –  nhinkle Mar 1 '12 at 5:39
    
+1 and you can post that as an answer if you want. Btw, Vista now suddenly thinks it is invalid. Before I have to buy another, could I mount the drive as an external drive and pass the registry address (which?) as a parameter to RegEdit? –  Mawg Mar 5 '12 at 3:43
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Maybe give Password Spy a shot

Worth a go :)

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+1 Thanks, I will try that –  Mawg Feb 27 '12 at 23:47
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