Forgot Mac Firmware Password? Don’t Panic, Here’s What To Do

Forgot Mac Firmware Password? Don’t Panic, Here’s What To Do

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Users who require stricter than usual security measures often set a firmware password on a Mac, which requires a password to be entered before the typical OS X boot sequence begins. While these low passwords are fairly secure, that higher security also means that a forgotten firmware password can be a significant problem. But if you wind up In a situation where you or another user has forgotten a low-level firmware password on a Mac, don’t panic as you may be able to recover or bypass the password using one of the methods described below. If all else fails, Apple may be able to help you too.

Keep in mind that a firmware password is not the same as an administrator password or the common computer password used to log into a Mac. The firmware password will immediately appear on startup and is a gray locked icon that looks like this:

The password screen of the Mac firmware for which you forgot the password

If the password that is difficult to remember is a common Mac login or administrator password, you can reset it with these instructions. Using the Apple ID approach at startup is usually easiest for modern Macs.

1: Try to reset or disable with Firmware Password utility

You may be able to reset, change, or disable the firmware password using the same method you used to set the password, this requires booting into recovery mode:

  1. Restart the Mac and hold down Command + R to enter recovery mode
  2. On the Utilities screen, go to the Utilities menu bar item and choose “Firmware Password Utility”
  3. Select to turn the firmware password OFF

If successful, you will be told that the firmware password is disabled.

Disable the firmware password in Mac OS X

Always check your caps key and num lock key before entering or changing passwords, often mistakes are as simple as that.

Obviously, you need to enter a password to access Firmware Password Utility, so why is it even mentioned, right? Because sometimes it works, maybe because of some user error typing the password to start with. Yes, you really should try.

2: Let Apple unlock Mac firmware password for you

If all else fails, you should contact Apple or an Apple Authorized Support Center that can bypass and / or reset the firmware password using proprietary tools. This works on modern Macs, including the following (this list is not necessarily definitive, always contact Apple directly if you don’t remember your firmware password regardless of the Mac):

  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (Early 2011 and later)
  • MacBook Pro with Retina display (all models)
  • iMac (Mid 2011 and later)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2011 and later)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)
  • (Maybe others too, contact Apple to make sure)

You can contact the official Apple Support channels at phone, or make an appointment with a Genius Bar at a local Apple Store. Again, even if your Mac is not on that list, you should contact them.

In most cases, you will need to provide proof of ownership of the Mac with a locked firmware password to unlock the affected computer. There can be exceptions for a variety of unusual circumstances, please discuss with them if necessary.

3: The Firmware Locked Mac is not in the above list and password reset didn’t work, now what?

Wait, have you contacted Apple Support or an Apple Authorized Support Agent and asked them? They can probably still help you unlock the Mac’s firmware login.

But if you’re the DIY type (like myself) then you’ll find that many older Macs, especially those that allow you to upgrade and change RAM yourself, allow a hardware bypass to bypass firmware passwords by physically remove memory from the computer and follow the instructions offered here. That is a fairly technical process, making it suitable for advanced users and system administrators, but it should not be attempted by anyone with a novice computing experience. That said, it works, and I’ve had to use it myself before in a variety of interesting IT and troubleshooting situations.

Do you have any other solution to unlock Mac with long forgotten firmware password? Let us know in the comments.

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