Admin accounts inadvertently converted to standard after Leopard install; fix

Accounts accidentally demoted.

Users are reporting a strange phenomenon where their administrator user accounts are converted to standard user accounts after installation of Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard).

MacFixIt reader Ed Anderson writes:

"Installing Leopard reconfigured my primary user account to 'standard', and in doing so, played havoc with many apps and processes that require it to be at admin level; multiple requests for user names and passwords that I knew were correct, yet denials of service anyway. It would not even let me use the login/keychain update. Spent a half day going through user name and password reconfigurations to get things running again. Even now, I still get asked for a password where before I did not (like mounting network drives) - keychain still seems to be partially broken."

Another reader adds:

"The only account was converted from an Administrator account to a Standard account and thus I couldn't alter anything in System Preferences."

The solution for this issue is to create a root account and then assigning admin privileges to the relegated account by starting in single-user mode and entering these commands:

  • mount -uw /
  • passwd root (you will be prompted to create a password)
  • passwd yourusername (again, you will be prompted to create a password)
  • shutdown -r now

You can then startup normally, login into the root account and assign admin priveleges as you choose.

Alternatively, if you have a backup, you can perform reinstall Leopard using the "Erase and install" process, establish a new administrator account, and manually restore your data.


  • "Erase and install" process
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