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How to remember a new PIN / digit-based password

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
How to remember a new PIN / digit-based password
Photo by Fredy Jacob / Unsplash

Like say you get a travel credit card, or your Air BnB room has a lock code.

There's a set of digit mnemonics (created, as far as I know, by a Kevin Trudeau for some cassette-based memory-training course in 1995). You take the four digits of the PIN and create a story,

0. donut (it's a circle)
1. tree trunk (shaped like a one)
2. light switch (two positions: up and down, on and off)
3. bar stool (three legs)
4. car (four wheels, four doors, Ford Motor Corp.)
5. glove (as in five fingers)
6. gun (as in six shooter)
7. dice (as in lucky number seven, also the two opposing faces of a dice always add up to 7, 5+2, 3+4, 1+6)
8. spider (eight legs, eight eyes)
9. cat (nine lives, cat o' nine tails whip)

So if your new PIN is 4895 you might imagine: you're driving your car (4), you see a spider (8) on the seat next to you, you freak out and turn off the road, a cat (9) runs out of the way. Then you put on a glove (5) so you can safely remove the spider. Sorry that's a horrible story, but it's relatively easy to remember if you repeat it a couple of times and visualise the cat running out of the way, putting on a heavy leather glove, etc.

(PS Note I've actually made a couple of changes to the original line-up. It didn't have a zero, and 8 was rollerskate (because rollerskates have 8 wheels) but that seemed kind of... not obvious, compared with spiders).

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #74 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

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