I forgot my Mac’s login password and now I can’t get to my desktop!

Forgot Mac PasswordThis is a common, and very frustrating, problem to have on the Macintosh. The story goes like this–the Macintosh by nature has a unique login password–the administrator password–that is created by you (or whoever set your Mac up) when you startup and setup the computer for the first time. Most people may never have to type this password in even once, or, they confuse it with the Apple ID password, which is a completely different password that allows you to get content on the iTunes and App Stores. At that point, you are now trying to install new software, or, even worse, you are stuck at the login screen without any knowledge of this administrator password. Don’t worry–it can be reset fairly easily, depending on the operating system you are running on your computer. Some of the later Macintosh operating systems have a secret partition built in that you can use to restart into and do things like disk maintenance or changing your administrator password. The easiest way to begin is to simply restart your computer and hold down the Command and R keys simultaneously. This will take a few minutes and eventually you should be booted into this secret recovery partition. Check along the top menubar for a tools menu. Inside this menu, you will most likely see a menu item called “Terminal.” Select this and when it launches, type in the following exactly like you see it:

resetpassword

Now, hit return and you should see the password reset screen appear. Select your hard drive and make sure the proper user account is selected below and type in your new password (twice) and give yourself a hint so it doesn’t happen again! Save your changes, and reboot your computer from the Apple menu and you should be back in business! The Macintosh may ask you about the keychain when you reboot and usually, I just tell it to delete the old keychain and create a brand new one.

Unfortunately, it gets more difficult with older operating systems–these have to be booted from a CD or hard drive to reset this password in virtually the same way, without entering the terminal first.

Did this solve your Mac OS X login issues?

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