It seems Local Items Keychain can not easily be transferred to a new machine

Hello, spent many hours on this yesterday. Setting up a Mac Studio (12.4) using Migration Assistant to copy everything from a Time Machine Backup (11.6.6) of my current iMac. Migration worked fine except the “local Items” keychain was missing almost all of the passwords. Login keychain transferred fine. Local items is what the iCloud keychain is called when you have iCloud Keychain turned off, and is where most of the passwords are actually saved.

I tried copying the ~/Library/Keychains folder manually but Keychain Access doesn’t recognize Local items that way either. Login keychain is an actual “login.keychain” file, while the Local Items is just a “keychain-2.db” file in a UUID subfolder, possibly tied to the current machine which is why it won’t transfer? It seems to be about the security of the iCloud keychain which is also affecting the Local Items keychain.

So… many internet searches results in nothing helpful. I called Apple and spoke to two people and they ended up saying yeah using iCloud Keychain is the only way to copy the keychain/passwords over. I have never used iCloud keychain and don’t want to upload my passwords. Well after I hung up I started wondering what if you want to convert to a different PW Manager, there must be some way. And yes, on 1Password’s site they helpfully point out you can use Safari Prefs->Passwords to export/import as CSV!!!

That works! But sadly I lose all my creation dates which I actually find quite useful in sorting out how old my keychain entries are.

Any other thoughts on how to copy/transfer keychains? I hope the difference in system version between the backup and the restore is not the problem (11.6->12.4). I could update my old machine, re-backup and restore but that is a lot of time/effort unless I have more reason to think it would help.
Edit: Nope, my 2014 iMac is too old for Monterey!


Here are a few possible solutions macos - How do I migrate my Keychain's "Local Items" to a new Mac? - Ask Different

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Thanks! I’m afraid all of those are outdated though. I haven’t tried signing out of iCloud to see if that somehow “decrypts” the keychain though. I doubt it would make a difference, and don’t want to try on my old mac until I get everything successfully transferred. Perhaps I’ll try on a dummy account.

Local keychain is very frustrating. You can copy/paste items between other keychains but not that one. Seems a weird restriction since you can view it all anyway with your passcode. And even export with Safari…