Reset admin password in macOS Sierra and above

Reset Mac Admin Password

It has happened several times that while helping a client upgrade his Mac, installing a new software or making some changes to the Mac, user realized that he does not remember his Mac admin password. Yes, a Mac administrator password is required every time you try to make some changes or upgrade your Mac. And it is a very common issue that we have to fix every day at least one- so don’t worry; you are not the first person who has forgotten his Mac admin password and facing this sticky situation. In fact, we all tend to lose or forget password all the time- both for admin and standard user account. And it’s not a big deal because there are multiple methods to reset Mac admin password.

In the previous post we discussed about another crippling situation where you could not upgrade your Mac due to Recovery Server could not be contacted error while upgrading to macOS High Sierra. In this post we will focus on different methods of resetting Mac administrator password in different versions of Mac OS X. This issue has become more common these days because most of the people prefer to keep the “Login Automatically” option enabled or you always login to your Mac automatically while you’re wearing your Apple Watch. And because of this you never type your password that you set during setting up your Mac and later you forget it. These methods do include some advance troubleshooting so be very careful while typing the command during resetting your Password.

In the event of losing or forgetting your administrator password , you may face a lot of difficulty or challenges including unable to login to your Mac, performing several other tasks such as installing or removing any application, deleting important files, making changes in system preferences, upgrading to macOS, or starting your Mac in safe mode. So, let get to the main topic of resetting your Password. These methods could also be used to get into your child’s password protected account. But all of these methods could be dangerous for your account also because anyone having physical access to your Mac can reset your account password and access your confidential data. Don’t worry as we have got you covered there as well, learn how to protect your admin account password and Mac from hacking.

How to Reset Mac Admin Password?

There are multiple ways to reset the Mac admin password and there could be various situation where all of the methods do not apply. Before we try any of the methods to reset Mac admin password, it is recommended that you check and confirm the following.

  1. Make sure that your are typing the password correctly specially the characters and its case- like upper case or lowercase letter should be typed the same way. Turn the caps lock off ,if it’s on.
  2. If password box shows any password hints or a question Mark click to view the hint as it could make you recall the admin password that you set initially.

    Click the question Mark to reset the password
    Enter the wrong password thrice and you get to see Password hint
  3. It is more likely that you did not set any password so just try logging in without any password by keeping the box blank. Then later change the password from system preferences.
  4. There might be a possibility that your Mac administrator password is same as your Apple ID password so try to login with Apple ID password (iCloud Password).

Now in case you have tried all the above mentioned steps and it did not help then follow the steps to reset the Mac admin password. Here are a few situation for when and how you would want to reset the administrator password. You should use the below mentioned steps depending on the version of macOS and how it was set up.

  1. Change the password when you know it
  2. Change the password when you don’t know it
  3. Resetting password for older Mac

Reset Password When You Know It

#1. Using System Preferences to Change Admin or Standard user’s Password

If you already know your password or the password for any administrator’s account then your job is very simple.

  1. Click on the Apple logo at the top left corner and select “System Preferences.”
  2. Open “Users & Groups” and select the account you want to change the password for on the left pane.
  3. If you are unable to select the user account – you will need to open the security lock at the bottom-left. Click on the padlock at the bottom left and type the password for your account. If you forgot your password then type the name of any other admin account on your Mac and the password for the same account. If you can’t recall the password for any of them, simply move on to the other methods of resetting the password.

    Reset Mac Admin Password When you know it
    Reset Mac Admin Password When you know it
  4. Once the padlock is opened, you can select the other admin account on the left and then click on the reset password button on the left. If you are still unable to select the other admin account in order to reset its password – the account must be logged in at the moment. Try to logout the other admin account or simply shutdown and restart your Mac.
  5. Click the reset password button on the right and type a new password > confirm the password and put a hint to recall this new password in the event you forgot it.
  6. Click “Change Password” button at the bottom and you are done.

If you don’t want to read the above method you can also watch this YouTube video.

#2. Try entering a wrong password three times.

Type anything for your password or just hit the enter/ return key thrice and it will throw a password hint below the Password box. Look at the password hint and try to recall the password you set. There is no harm in trying the wrong password several times. If you can’t recall the password or there is no hint then look for a message saying “you can reset your password using Apple ID”. This option would only be available to users who have connected their account with Apple ID. Click the link to learn how to reset Mac admin password using Apple ID.

Click the question Mark to reset the password
Click the question Mark to reset the password

Reset Password When You don’t Know It

#1. Use Your Apple ID to Reset Admin Password on Mac

It could also be very useful when you do not have another admin account to reset your password. This feature that let you reset the password using Apple ID was first introduced in Mac OS X Lion ver 10.7. And remember, this method would only work if you had enabled this feature while setting up your Mac for the first time or later in the system preferences. If you are at login screen and could not get into your computer because you forgot the password then follow the below steps to reset the Mac admin password using Apple ID.

  1. Try entering wrong password until you see a message stating that you can reset your password using Apple ID.
  2. Click the arrow sign next to the Apple ID and follow the onscreen instructions.
  3. You will be asked to enter your Apple ID password (iCloud Password) → Type the password and click next.
  4. Create a new password and restart your Mac if you are asked to do so.

#2. Change the password from another admin account

If you have ever created another account on your Mac or if you have shared it with someone else who might have created another account with administrative privilege then you are in luck. If you know the password for the other admin account you can use that account to reset the password for any account on your Mac. This feature was first introduced in Mac OS X 10.4. This method won’t help to them who just have one admin account, in that case you need to use recovery mode to reset the admin password. You can also use the default hidden system administrator account often called as root, to reset the password for another account only in case you remember the root password if you have ever dealt with it before. Follow the below steps to reset the password from recovery mode.

  1. In order to perform this action, you need to make sure that you are logged into the admin account you know the password for and the other account whose password is to be reset is logged out. So logout from the currently logged in account if you want to reset the password for the same in case you got logged in automatically due to automatic login enabled.
  2. You need to follow the same steps as mentioned in method “Using System Preferences to change the admin password”.
  3. You need to click the lock icon at the bottom left corner under “Users & Groups” preferences App.

    Reset Mac Admin Password When you know it
    Resetting Password from another admin account
  4. Type the account name and password of the administrator account you know the password for.
  5. Select the username you need to reset the password of and click Change password box on the right pane.
  6. Type a new password → confirm the password and click Change password.

Conclusion:

Using this method or any other method listed below will cause to lose all the saved passwords for different websites and applications such as Mail, iMessage, FaceTime, Outlook, Skype, etc. These passwords are stored in keychain which by default has the same password as your login password if you did not ever change it. Forgive me for keychain as there is nothing you can do to recover it because its encrypted and even Apple can’t recover them. The biggest problem that cripples you the most is the keychain pop up that keeps showing you after resetting the user account password. You will have to reset the Login Keychain to fix that error. You can also create a new Keychain when you login with the new password for the first time. It will ask to update the KeyChain password or create a new one. Select create New KeyChain. Updating the KeyChain password isn’t an option for you because you don’t remember your old password. If all the above method does not work, don’t despair as help is on the way. We can use recovery mode to reset Mac admin password.

#3. Using Recovery Mode to reset Mac admin password

With the launch of Mac OS X Lion ver 10.7, Apple stopped shipping the OS X install DVD for all the new Mac purchase. They started delivering downloadable content from Mac app store and a stripped-down version of OS X stored on the internal hard drive. This stripped version of hard drive is know as recovery partition which contains important information related to OS X installation and essential utilities to troubleshoot your Mac. It is mostly used to fix error on hard drive and reset Mac admin password. You just need to boot your Mac in recovery mode and it’s a task of just 5-10 minutes to reset your password.

To do this:

  1. Shut down your Mac first.
  2. Turn it back on and immediately press and hold “Command+R” keys together when you hear the startup chime sound. Keep them hold until you see the Apple Logo.
  3. Let go the keys off when you see the Apple logo and wait while the recovery utilities are being loaded.
  4. You may be asked to select language → Select English and hit continue.
  5. Now you will see the four option at the front but you don’t need to choose any of them.
  6. Click on the utilities menu at the top and select Terminal.

    Utilities Menu in Recovery Mode
    Utilities Menu in Recovery Mode
  7. You will see a white color window with a prompt written as “-bash-3.2#”.
  8. Simply type “ResetPasswrd” (without quote) and hit enter/return key.
  9. You will notice a new pop up window at the back.
  10. Close the terminal and select the hard drive name containing the Mac OS X version having your User account.

    Rseet Mac admin password from terminal in Recovery Mode
    Rseet Mac admin password from terminal in Recovery Mode
  11. Then select the username and type a new password → confirm the password and hit save.
  12. Close terminal and select restart from Apple menu and login to your account with the new password.
  13. The same process is little different is macOS Sierra and High Sierra. It’s almost the same, just the interface is little changed to simply explaining wizard based password reset tool. Read the next section to reset password in macOS Sierra and macOS high Sierra.

Resetting admin password in macOS Sierra and above

  1. In macOS Sierra and above, follow all the steps from 1 through 8 as mentioned above in “using recovery mode to reset Mac admin password”.
  2. After you type “ResetPasswrd” command in terminal and hit enter you will see a new window at the back asking you to select the hard drive containing the user account–> select the original partition or hard drive name → click continue.
  3. Select the username to reset the password for.

    Reset admin password in macOS Sierra and above
    Reset admin password in macOS Sierra and above
  4. Now if you had ever signed in to iCloud services with your Apple ID in your user account. You will be prompted to enter password for your Apple ID attached with your account. Otherwise you directly get the screen to type a new password and confirm it to change the password.
  5. Follow the onscreen instructions and restart the Mac once done.
  6. Login with the new password and enjoy.

Method #3 will only work flawlessly when you did not have FileVault encryption turned on. In case you had turned the FileVault on during setting up your Mac or later, you will not be able to see any hard drive partition as the disk is locked with password and you need t unlock the disk first to proceed with or move to resetting admin password when FileVault is on.

Reset Mac admin password when FileVault is enabled

To unlock the drive and reset the admin password when the FileVault is enabled.

  1. Boot your Mac from recovery partition by following the step 1 through 4 as mentioned in Method #3.
  2. Now select disk utility from the 4 option in the front and click continue.
  3. Select the volume containing the Mac OS X you have your admin account in. It is generally named as Macintosh HD.

    Unlock the Macintosh HD first to reset the Admin Password
    Unlock the Macintosh HD first to reset the Admin Password
  4. Now click the unlock button from tool bar across the top or click file menu at the top and select “Unlock Macintosh HD” or “Turn Off Encryption..”.Unlock Macintosh HD before Resetting the Mac admin Passwod
  5. Enter the FileVault password when it ask and the drive will be unlocked for later use.
  6. Now follow the step 6 through 13 in Method #3 as mentioned above to reset the Mac admin password in macOS Sierra and later versions.

#4. Reset Mac Admin Password Using the Single-User Mode

If can’t boot your Mac from recovery partition due to corrupt or missing recovery partition. Don’t worry, you still have single user mode as a last resort. In single user mode your Mac boot from the original Mac OS X partition. And loads user environment of the superuser known as root(administrator). It doesn’t need any password for superuser.

Single user mode is a stripped-down version of OS X where your Mac boots with minimal features and basic OS kernel. It’s a command line user interface with no graphics, drivers or other kernel extension. If you had previously created any recovery disk or have an old OS X install disk. Then you can still boot your Mac from them otherwise follow the steps below. However, if you have the FileVault enabled then you need to supply the FileVault password first. It is the password for administrator who encrypted the disk.

To boot your Mac in Single user Mode:

  1. Turn off the Mac and restart.
  2. Hold “Command+S” keys together immediately after turning the Mac on.
  3. You will see a black screen with white text scrolling across the screen. Wait until the text finish scrolling and you see the prompt written as Root#.
  4. Now first of all run the file system check by typing the command “fsck -fy” without inverted commas. This will run five different diagnostic and checks on the Macintosh hard drive and try to fix the error it finds. Once the command has run successfully it with show either of two messages 1). “FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED” or 2).“The volume [Boot Volume Name] appears to be OK”. If you see the first message then keep repeating the command “fsck -fy” until you get the second message.
  5. Now Mount the root partition as writable, by typing command “mount -uw /” and hit enter.
  6. Now follow one of the methods mentioned below.

Resetting Mac Admin Password in Older Macs

To reset Password in OS X 10.7 – 10.9

1. After you have booted into single user mode and run the above mentioned command to mount the partition as writable. Type the following command to load the directory service command line environment that manages user accounts on Mac.

launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.opendirectoryd.plist

2. Now type “ls /Users” and note down the short username of the admin account you want to change password for.

3. Now type the following command replacing the “shortusername” with the original admin username that you had noted down in previous step.

dscl . -passwd /users/shortusername

If you get any error saying could not start (“/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.DirectoryServicesLocal.plist”), No such file or directory nothing found to load – simply ignore it.

In OS X 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard, you need not to load the directory services, rather type the dscl command directly as mentioned above.

4. Type in the new password and hit enter then restart your Mac by typing “reboot”.

In some older Mac model , you can simply type “passwd shortusername” followed by the new password twice to reset Mac admin password. While you type the password it won’t show any character on the screen.

Reset Mac admin password in OS X10.4 Tiger:

  1. Login to Single User Mode.
  2. Type “sh /etc/rc” and hit Return/Enter key.
  3. passwd shortusername” (replace shortusername with the name of original admin account.
  4. Enter the new password and hit Return/Enter key.
  5. Type reboot and login with the new password.

#5. Reset Forgotten Mac admin Password

by rebooting into Apple’s Setup Assistant tool:

This is another easier method which tricks your Mac into running the setup again as if your computer has never been setup before. When you turn on your Mac it asks you to go through the setup assistant and create a new user account. This method actually deletes a file which keep the information about your Mac setup. When the file is deleted or missing your Mac assumes that you have never setup this Mac and hence do not have any user account. So the new user that it creates is an Administrator and when you login with the new admin account you could actually reset the password for the other account which were already existed on your Mac.

To do this:

  1. Boot your Mac in single-user mode.
  2. Run commands “fsck -fy” and “mount -uw /”.
  3. Type the command “rm /var/db/AppleSetupDone” and hit enter.

    Reset Mac admin password by tricking your Mac
    Reset Mac admin password by tricking your Mac to run first time setup again
  4. Now restart your Mac by typing reboot.

When your Mac reboots follow the onscreen instructions and create a new user account. Then login with new User account and follow Method #2 to reset Mac Admin password. Delete the new account when you get into your lost account.

#6. Reset Mac Admin Password from FileVault

When you turn the FileVault on it automatically generates a recovery key. You can easily reset the login password of your account using this recovery key. If you have kept it with you, it can be used to reset your password.

  1. Restart your Mac and select your account at login window.
  2. Enter wrong password three times and click the question mark button in the password box.
  3. Select option “Reset it using your Recovery Key”.
  4. When asked , Enter the Recovery Key and change the password.

That was all about the different methods to reset Mac admin password on different version of Mac OS X or macOS, whatever you want to call it. If you know any other tricks to reset the password do let us know and in case , you are not a computer savvy and could not reset Mac admin password yourself. Contact us or chat with us for a quick resolution. We provide free diagnostic and free consultation 24/7. I hope above mentioned steps will help you reset the Mac admin password.

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