Resetting Your OS X User Account Password

Resetting Your OS X User Account Password

Range Govindan
Jan 10, 2011

If you're like most users, you'll have a single user account on your Mac, and it will be the sole administrator account. What happens when you either lose or don't remember this password? It's a pretty common scenario. However, there's an easy way to do this with a Mac, which is somewhat counter-intuitive if you come from a PC background.

On the weekend, I was updating my wife's MacBook. Since I'm recent Mac convert, I've been customizing my own MacBook Pro, while also installing some apps and programs onto my wife's computer. For some reason, she didn't have a password for her user account. I don't know how she managed it, but when I started installing apps, it started creating some problems because her password field was left empty.

I don't know why the behavior of the Mac changed, but it had to do with the fact that I was installing some applications. A few days later, we noticed that the Mac would no longer let us update software because when we tried to enter password that was empty, it no longer accepted it. That meant that I had to reset the password.

After quickly reading over the procedure here, I went looking for my wife's OS X DVD. She didn't have it with her, but I had mine for my MacBook Pro. I had already tried updating her OS X to 10.6.5 using this DVD, but it didn't work. However, I thought that I might be able to boot with the DVD and access the system configuration this way.

Here's what we did:

  • Insert the DVD into the superdrive and restart your Mac.
  • Press the key 'C' while it reboots. This will make it boot from the DVD. Depending on the age of your Mac, it could take a few minutes.
  • Once it's booked up, access the 'Utilities' menu and click Reset Password. You can now enter a new password.

If you're using a DVD that didn't come with your MacBook, you should try and use one that's closest to the OS X version that you've got installed. For example, my OS X 10.6.5 worked fine on her OS X 10.5.8 Mac, but there might be problems if the versions are very different. If you don't have your DVD, try using one of your friends'. If you aren't technically inclined, this will save you a trip to the Apple store.

(Image: Flickr member Foskarulla licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Minor9th licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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