A reminder on how to reset your Mac's system password

One of the most frustrating troubleshooting situations one may come across is when a user has forgotten his or her system password. Luckily, resetting it is pretty straightforward.

One of the most frustrating troubleshooting situations one may come across is when a user has forgotten his or her system password. As an independent consultant this is one the more common issues I encounter. Luckily, resetting a user or administrator password is pretty straightforward. The following tips work for any Mac running Mac OS X 10.3 or later.

To reset the Administrator's password:

  1. Insert the original system backup disc (the one that came with your machine). Reset your Mac holding the 'C' key down.
  2. When the installer window appears, mouse over the top menu bar, click on Utilities, and choose Reset Password.
  3. Select your boot drive and your account. Do not reset the root password.
  4. You may find it helpful to include a descriptive password hint (one that can jog your memory without easily giving it away).
  5. Click Save, quit the Installer, and reset your Mac. Your new password should work.
  6. Resetting your password is easy, but be sure to save your original system discs. Apple

If you only need to reset a user's password, follow these instructions:

  1. Log in to the Administrator's account on your Mac and open System Preferences.
  2. Select Accounts and click the lock icon (lower-left corner) to unlock the panel preferences.
  3. Select the user's account that needs to have its password reset. Click 'Change Password' and enter your new password (and a helpful hint).

For more on resetting passwords in older versions of Mac OS X, read this Apple knowledgebase article.


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About the author

    Joe is a seasoned Mac veteran with years of experience on the platform. He reports on Macs, iPods, iPhones and anything else Apple sells. He even has worked in Apple retail stores. He's also a creative professional who knows how to use a Mac to get the job done.

     

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