Resetting your forgotten password on mac OSX

The Scene: You absolutely cannot remember that amazingly complex and easy-to-remember password that you set on your shiny new macbook, and you’re running out of possible password combinations.

Well, don’t freak out, because it happens to the best of us. In fact, sudden password amnesia can happen quite a lot when your life requires you to have a passkey for almost everything that you do now a days. Of course, it is tempting to merely have one or two stock passwords  that act as your trusty go-to in the matter, but this kind of password duplication leaves you open and prone to having your secure information compromised by a random brute force attack or worse.

If you’re anything like me, then chances are you have way too many passwords for way too many accounts, and about a couple of times a week you’ll just blank on that password you quite literally just entered.  This is especially complicated if the password  you’ve forgotten is the administrator password on your machine, it can seem like quite an insurmountable obstacle to overcome.  Thankfully, I’m here to deliver you the good news that in fact you can too crack you own password on OS X if you are in dire need, and I’m going to show you how to do so!

The even better news is that there are a couple of ways of doing it!

Method 1: Use your Install Disk

1. Simply pop in the grey OS X install disk into you mac, and boot from disk.

2. Here select your language and allow the installer to load files

3. When the installer desktop loads, select Utilities from the drop down like soUtilities>Reset Password and choose Reset password








4. When the Reset Password dialogue box comes up, select the volume (aka the drive)  where your locked account is located, and the correct user account and you’ll be able to choose a new password and password hint question.

5. There will also be an option at the bottom to Reset home folder permissions and ACLs

6. Reboot and log in to your account, and remember to write your new password down!

Method 2: Trick OSX into re-running first boot

This much easier method is also perfect if you do not have your install disk handy, all you need to do is execute some commands at boot.

1. Reboot your machine, and when you hear the start-up going press the Command + S key.  This will start up the machine in Single User Mode.

2. Once you find yourself in this command line interface you need to load the volume (hard drive) which contains the account you’ve locked yourself out of.  In  almost all cases this will just be your boot directory so type:

sudo mount -uw /

and press return.

3. Next remove the file on your hard drive that tells the macbook that the initial set up has already been done on that machine. You can do this by typing the following and pressing enter:

rm -rf /var/db/.AppleSetupDone

4. Then perhaps the easiest part of the whole process is executing the reboot command by typing the following and pressing enter:


5. Once the machine boots back up you will notice that it is running just like the very first time you turned it on. You will have to select your keyboard, and language .

6.  Next it will prompt you to transfer your information from a previous machine, you will want to select do not transfer my information now and click next.

7. Next it will ask you to configure your apple ID and iCloud, you can choose to do this or you can skip this by pressing the “Command” and “Q” keys at the same time. Just keep skipping all the irrelevant prompts until you get to create a new user account.

8. Create a new administrator account on the machine, as well as passwords and challenge questions. You can name this account anything you want because you are just using it temporarily to get back into your locked OSX account.

9. Once you log in to your new account, go to system preferences  and then accounts.

10. In accounts, select the account you are locked out of on the left hand side and click “Reset Password” in the right hand panel.  Once you are done, you can opt to delete the new account you’ve created or keep it as a secondary master administrator account.

and of course…

11. Write down your username and password if you’re gonna forget it!

Next time, we’ll be showing you how to do the same on your Windows machine- because we all know forgetfulness transcends OS boundaries.

– Stefan Avlijas @ XiiTec in Vancouver