How-To: Changing home folder name/account name in Leopard

When users create an account on their systems, the home folder is named with the "short" username; changing it, or the login name is not straightforward.

When users create an account on their systems, the home folder is named with the "short" username; changing it, or the login name is not straightforward. In previous versions of Mac OS X, the easiest way to change the short name was usually to create a new account and transfer files to it. For Leopard users, however, the procedure is relatively simple:

  1. Enable the root user and log in as root. This can be done by opening "Directory Utility", clicking the lock and authenticating, and then choosing "Enable Root User" from the "Edit" menu. After supplying a password for this account, users can log out and log back in as "root".
  2. Locate the home folder to be changed, and rename it accordingly, ensuring the name is lowercase, letters only, and all one word.
  3. Go to the "Accounts" system preferences and create a new user, giving that user a "short" name that's the same as the new home folder name. The system will ask if the present home folder is to be used, and users should click "ok". Then ensure the new user can administer the computer (if the user is to be an administrator).
  4. Log out of the system and log back in as the new user, and if everything behaves normally, users can then delete the old user in the "System Preferences".
  5. Reverse the steps to enable the "root" user in order to deactivate it. The root user account should only be enabled temporarily for running certain administrative tasks such as this.

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