Forgot Mac Password? How to Reset Your Mac Password (with or without CD) Tutorial and Steps
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So you forgot your Mac password … oh oh. Don’t worry, it happens and you’re not out of luck. You need to reset the forgotten password and there are several ways to do it, we’ll focus on the three best methods; the first is very simple and uses the Apple ID (yes, the same as the one you use for iTunes and App Store purchases), the second method is a hack of sorts and doesn’t require a Mac OS X recovery drive or CD and is guaranteed are effective, and the third trick is quite simple, but it requires a Mac OS X DVD, startup disk, or recovery mode partition to use. Use the method that works for your situation, but whichever method you choose, your password will be reset and you can access your stuff again.
Reset lost Mac passwords with Apple ID
This is the best approach for Mac users with new versions of OS X (Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion and Lion) because it is extremely quick and easy. The only requirements are that you must have an Apple ID associated with a user account and that you must have Internet access so that the Mac can contact Apple to initiate the reset procedure.
- From the login or boot screen of the Mac, enter a wrong password three times to bring up the “Password Hint” box and a message saying “If you’ve forgotten your password, you can reset it with your Apple ID.” .. click that (>) arrow icon to initiate the Apple ID based reset
- Enter the Apple ID credentials, which is the same information used to log in to the App Store, iTunes and iCloud, then click “Reset Password”
- Confirm the new password and let the Mac boot as usual
That was easy, right? Indeed, the Apple ID password option is the fastest and easiest method available to Mac users, and when that option is available, it is the preferred method. But what if you don’t have an Apple ID associated with the Mac account? Or what if you no longer remember that password, or if there is no internet access? If you are in a situation where the Apple ID approach is not possible, don’t worry as that’s what we’ll be covering next.
Reset Mac password – without a CD or boot disk
Using a pretty handy trick you can reset a forgotten Mac password without a Mac OS X Install CD / DVD or a startup disk or recovery partition, and without having an Apple ID. This is basically the all-in-one approach when nothing else works, as it’s guaranteed to get you back on a Mac when the other options are available, and it works in literally all versions of OS X. The steps may seem like an initial bit intimidating but I assure you its easy if you follow them exactly, here it is exactly how to do this in three stages:
Stage 1) Boot into single user mode and delete an installation file
Step 2) Create a new user account at system startupYou’re not done yet, but the tricky part is now over – no more command lines, you are now in the familiar Mac OS X GUI to complete the password reset process. In this step, we’ll just create a new user account as if you just had a new Mac:
- On reboot, you will see the traditional “Welcome Wizard” splash screen, just like when you first purchase a Mac
- Follow the welcome wizard and create a new user account, making the account name different from the one you want to recover the password from
- Go ahead and boot Mac OS X with this newly created user account, this new user account is an administrator and has administrator access
Stage 3) Reset the forgotten password via System PreferencesYou are almost done, now you just need to reset the forgotten user account password from the Accounts control panel:
- Once booted into Mac OS X, click on the Apple logo and navigate down to “System Preferences”
- Click the “Accounts” icon in System Preferences
- Click the lock icon in the lower left corner of the “Accounts” preferences window and enter the newly created user credentials, this will allow you to change other user accounts and reset other users’ passwords
- In the user panel on the left, select the user account with the forgotten password
- With the user of the forgotten password account selected, click on “Reset Password” button
- Enter a new password for that user, make sure to add a meaningful hint so you don’t forget it again!
- Close System Preferences and restart the Mac
- You can now log into the previously inaccessible user account with the reset password! All user files and settings are retained as before the password was forgotten
Optional: If you wish, you can delete the temporary account you created to reset the user password. This is wise for security reasons.
Here’s how this works: by deleting the .applesetupdone file, you tell Mac OS X to run the setup wizard again, which by default creates a new user account with administrative capabilities, which then takes another user’s forgotten password on the Mac . This is a great one trick and a great troubleshooting technique for when you don’t have a Mac OS X installation CD / DVD, which is pretty much the norm as many people lose or lose the installation CDs that come with their computers. I have used this exact method several times to recover various Macs with forgotten / lost passwords.
Reset Mac Password – with installation CD / DVD, boot disk or recovery mode partition
Resetting a forgotten Mac password is fairly easy if you have an installation disc, drive, or the recovery partition at hand. The method you use here depends on the version of OS X the Mac is running on.
For OS X Mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8) and Lion (10.7) with recovery mode:
- Launch the Mac OS X boot menu by holding down the OPTION key at system startup
- Choose the recovery drive to boot into recovery mode and wait for the “Utilities” screen to appear
- Open the “Utilities” menu and choose “Terminal”
- At the command line, type “resetpassword” without the quotation marks
- Confirm the new account password and restart the Mac as usual
For Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6), Leopard (10.5) and earlier with installation DVD / CD:
- Insert the bootable DVD into the Mac and restart or restart the computer
- Boot the disk by holding down the “C” key while booting the system
- Select your language preferences, then under the “Utilities” menu select “Reset Password” (it may say “Reset Password” instead, depending on the version of Mac OS X)
- Select the hard drive that contains the forgotten password, then select the username of the forgotten password, you will then be prompted to select a new password
- Reboot from the hard drive as usual and use your newly reset password as the login!
This older one trick is taken from our article about how to reset a forgotten password with a CD.
These boot menu methods are clearly simpler than the # 2 guide trickbut whether they will work for you depends on whether you have a recovery partition (all new Macs have), or older Macs, whether you have a DVD installer lying around. However, since we’ve covered solutions for every possible situation, one of these options will work to reset that password and use the Mac again.
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