AAM: Lost OS X Password

by Aaron Wright Mar 12, 2007

It’s one thing to lose or forget a password to your email account, and a whole other story if it’s your online banking account, but what do you do if you can’t access your own computer through a forgotten or lost password?

Unfortunately for one user, their little brother decided to accidentally change a master password to the main account, which meant they couldn’t gain access to their computer. A dilemma in the making, surely?

Well, for those of you who would assume there is no way of retrieving a lost password in OS X, you’d actually be proven wrong. Now I don’t know if this is a security issue or what, but apparently if you have a handy copy of your original OS X install disc at the ready, you can reset your password and gain access to your computer once more. Now that does seem like it’s defeating the purpose of computer security, especially if a thief that stole your computer happened to have a copy of OS X at hand, but the feature is there nonetheless.

This week’s unfortunate user is Rohan, who is thankfully helped out by regular AAM contributor and AM reader Haye321 and, winner of this week’s Answer of the Week, Wundryn II.

Keep the questions rolling in folks!

Question of the Week

Help, I can’t log on!

By: Rohan

Ok, so I just got a MacBook Pro and my little brother “accidentally” reset the password. Being that he is 4 and too young to know what he did, I am stuck only being able to log onto the other user name accounts but not mine.  My question is, does anyone know how I can reboot this thing or erase everything so I can get back on my name or be the Admin again?


Answer of the Week

By: Wundryn II

Boot from your system disk (that came with your MacBook) and choose your language. At the top of your screen select utilities. Under utilities select Reset Password. When the window opens, at the top, choose your start up disk. Below that choose the user you want to change the password for. Enter your new password below that and verify it. At the very bottom you can choose to enter a new password hint if you like. Now you are done, so restart and login. Everything should still be there and you are gtg.

You could set a master password and use the file vault to encrypt your home folder but it is a hassle and if you lose or forget your master pass and user pass you have to wipe the drive.

Have a technical question? Drop by our dedicated forums and leave a message. You’re sure to get a reply from one of our regular readers or even a member of our staff.


  • Actually it’s much more insecure than that. Just boot in to “single user” mode (press and hold the Command and “S” keys during the boot process). Once booted enter these commands:

    # sh /etc/rc
    # passwd <newrootpassword>
    # reboot

    Voila, root user password changed. Moral of the story, like all computers, never let your Mac out of your site. Or, always keep it physically secure.


    Piko had this to say on Mar 12, 2007 Posts: 4
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