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Recovering Administrator Password - School Computer

by DigitalAngelic / December 3, 2007 12:00 PM PST

My IT class has an old iMac (G3, slot-loading, Mac OS 9) that the teacher lost the administrator password to. We don't even know if anyone in the school knows what it is. I'm not sure what version of Mac OS 9 it is, but we need to find a way to reset the password without completely messing up the OS. I have a near-identical iMac at home (mine's tray-loading) and a set of PowerBook G4 installation disks, so I tried testing the Mac OS 9 disk on that... it says my Mac's firmware it out of date. I'm not very familiar with Macs, but it's probably just because that's not the computer it was designed for... is there any other way to reset the password on the admin account?

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by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / December 3, 2007 8:47 PM PST

The message you get is not because of the incorrect CD's you used, it was because the Firmware is actually out of date and in need of updating.
The disks you used were probably OS X disks and most System 9 machines needed a Firmware update to be able to run OS X.

This iMac is almost certainly running a piece of software that limited the use of the machine, no such functionality was ever built in to System 9.
I'm trying to think of the name of the piece of Apple software that was used for creating accounts and limiting access to certain areas. Right now the name escapes me.

With a System 9 boot disk you could boot the machine, format the drive and move on from there.


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by DigitalAngelic / December 3, 2007 9:13 PM PST
In reply to: Firmware

Hmm... I forgot to mention that my iMac at home actually runs OS X. I was just testing it to see if the installer program would work.

So they made OS X disks with OS 9 on them? And... I don't want to format the drive, that's why I need to recover or reset the password for the admin account.

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by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / December 4, 2007 1:04 AM PST
In reply to: Firmware

The Firmware out of date message is usually correct. If you are seeing it on your home iMac then you really do need to update the firmware.
this can only be done when you are booted into System 9, does not work in OS X, and the firmware updater is available for the download section of the Apple site.

I'm still looking for the name of the software that was used to create accounts under System 7 to 9.

Of course, you could always try starting up with the Shift key held down, start up with extensions disabled, and if it starts without asking for a password, go into the Extension Manager and disable whatever extension is causing the problem. Then reboot


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by DigitalAngelic / December 5, 2007 4:42 AM PST
In reply to: Interesting,

Well, I brought my disks to school today, I booted from the CD, moved the Multi-User Prefs file to the Documents folder (as a backup) and the computer now boots into the admin account. The school Mac didn't need a firmware update because I didn't need to use the installer program; I don't know where I heard that the installer had a password reset function... maybe it's a different disk?

My Mac at home, however... I can't downgrade to OS 9 because I don't have the newest firmware, but I can't install the newest firmware because I'm not running OS 9. Nice, Apple. (That one doesn't really matter though... while it may run faster with OS 9, I'm not sure if it could connect to the internet through my network... I don't really feel like messing with it too much. I think I'll just stick with OS X.)

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Good job
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / December 5, 2007 10:22 AM PST
In reply to: Fixed

Multi-Users extension needs to be removed from the extension folder as well.

You don't need the firmware upgrade to boot into OS 9, just the CD for 9.0
The firmware was needed for later versions of OS 9 in preparation for the installation of OS X.
Unless you have removed the OS 9 system folder yourself, it should still be on your hard drive.

The Installer program does indeed have a password reset utility but it is only for accounts created in OS X and does nothing for OS 9 machines. It is only active when the machine is booted from the CD/DVD and, as such, the machine is running OS X.

No reason why your OS 9 machine cannot connect to the internet, assuming that you have a wired connection from a router or a direct wired connection to the modem.

However, if you are planning on staying with OS X on that machine, it's not worth bothering with the firmware update.

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