How to Reset Your Mac Password With or Without the Disk a Mac911 Q & A

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Reset Your Mac Password With or Without the Disk

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Before I tell you how to reset your Mac password, yes even if you don’t have the disc, I want to welcome you to Mac911! This is our first edition, so we are excited to get started in helping you. After we answer this question you can find more information about Mac911, and how to ask your own questions or find answers we may already have. For now, let’s now get to our first question:

Question from: ‘private’> My son has an older MacBook that he bought through a used computer store. It’s in great shape but there are some things we can’t do because we don’t know the password. We called the shop and it’s since closed down, and the shop owner didn’t give us a disk. So that leads me to my question, which is: Is it possible to reset your Mac password without the disk, and if so, how?

Answer from: Mac911 First Responder, Trish>

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in being someone that doesn’t have their Mac’s password. Not remembering, losing or not having the password in the first place is a common problem with any computer user,  fortunately it is one computer problem, well at least with Mac’s, that is easy to fix. Most Mac computers require a password when you want to make changes in System Preferences. However, because most of us don’t make changes in System Preferences very often it’s easy to forget your Mac’s password or like our reader, even not have your Mac password from the start if you bought it used.

Whatever the the case, you will need to reset your Mac’s password in order to make any changes. I will go ahead and show you both ways to reset your Mac’s password, which is with the OS disk and without the OS disk. Don’t worry, this can be done quite easily, even if you don’t have the disk handy.


Reset Your Mac’s Password Without a Disk

While these steps may seem a little intense or confusing, they are really quite simple and you will have your Mac’s password changed quickly and easily as long as you follow them. Make very sure that you type in the commands as you see below, because leaving a space in a wrong spot will mean the code won’t work but it can also do other things depending on what you type in, so just be careful. 

1.  Boot into Single User Mode to Remove a Setup File

  • Restart while holding down the Command+S keys
  • Once the Mac has booted, check the file system by typing fsck -fy
  • Next, mount the root drive as writeable by typing mount -uw /
  • Next, you will need to type the following command rm /var/db/.applesetupdone and then press enter
  • This will remove the applesetupdone file, and once it is removed you will need to reboot by typing reboot and pressing enter.

2. Create a New User Account Once the System Boots

Step one is the hardest part, but there are two more steps to complete before you are finished. In this step, you will be creating a new user account, much like you did when you first got your Mac.

  • Once the Mac has rebooted you will see the Welcome Wizard startup screen.
  • Follow the Welcome Wizard and create a brand new user account. Make sure that the new account has a different name from the one whose password you are recovering.
  • Continue following the Welcome Wizard, and when finished boot into Mac OS X with the new user account. This account will be an Administrator with all administrative access.

3. Reset the Forgotten Password on Your Mac

To do this you will be using the Accounts control panel.

  • Click on the Apple logo and navigate to System Preferences
  • Once in System Preferences, click on the Accounts icon
  • Now click on the Lock icon in the bottom left corner, and enter the new user information
  • Select the user account with the forgotten password from the user panel on the left side and then click on the  Reset Password button
  • Enter a new password, and a password hint that is will help you to remember what the new password is.
  • Close the System Preferences window and reboot your computer.

At this point, you can delete the temporary account that you created if you want to. Or, if you would like to have two administrative user accounts on your Mac, you can choose to keep it.

Reset Your Mac Password With a Disk

If you have an installer disk, resetting a forgotten password on your Mac is much easier. To do it:

  • Boot from the installer disk by inserting it and holding down the C key while the computer boots up
  • Select the language preferences and then select Password Reset in the Utilities menu. (Depending on the operating system, it may say Reset Password
  • Select the hard disk that has the forgotten password on it, and then select the username of the account with the forgotten password. You will then be asked to type in a new password.
  • Reboot the Mac computer using the new password at login.

To Sum It Up

There are a few other ways to reset Mac passwords, but these two are by far the easiest and quickest ways to do it. Of course, if you have the installer disk, it is very simple. But if you don’t, as long as your follow the instructions, your Mac’s password will be reset in no time.

first responders image of kim and trish

If you have tried to reset your Mac’s password via either or both of these methods and you still can’t get it reset, just let us know below in the comments, or email us through the Contact form.

Have other Mac or Apple questions for us? That’s what we’re (Mac 911) here for so ask away! Whenever you ask us any Mac or Apple questions though, please include your products information, such as what it is, what version, what OS X, and anything else that you feel may help.

You can send us your questions in the comments box below the article or you can go to our Contact page and submit it that way. Let us know if you wish to remain anonymous, otherwise, if you leave a name, we will mention you by first name and first initial of your last name.

We will let you know when we have the answer to your question, but for now you can review our blog as it may have already been answered or written about (the search bar is on the left). We have also done some reviews of some Mac products so that you don’t have to worry that it’s not worth it or that it may be a scam! So, what do questions do you have? Or, perhaps you have another way to retrieve your Mac’s password, if so, share it below!

About The Author
Harry Carver
Harry Carver is TheHTS resident science nerd and super gamer. As well as researching and learning about physics and chemistry, he enjoys playing the mad scientist in his home lab so be sure to watch for his chemistry and science videos here and on our YouTube channel. He has a dislike for social media, but you can find him on Linkedin should you want to know more.