How To Restore A Mac Password

macbook laptop with a title that reads how to restore a mac password

The operating system macOS has strong security requirements, and its guardian is the administrator password. It seems like nothing is possible without it.

But what if you completely forget your Mac admin password?

Using your Apple ID is the quickest way to restore a Mac password. As the last resort, you can still restore the administrator’s account using the Terminal window within macOS Recovery.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of simple steps for you to follow that will help restore passwords on your Mac. Let’s dive in!

Don’t get locked out of your Mac because you forgot your admin password.

How To Restore A Mac Password

First, you can try typing your password an unlimited amount of times. Apple’s macOS won’t lock you out after multiple failed attempts. With this in mind, let’s figure out how you can restore your Mac admin password if you can’t remember it.

Apple macbook laptop with macOS login screen showing
Apple have made macOS incredibly secure.

1. Use Your Hint

Before going through the steps to recover a Mac password, try to enter the correct one. The hint that you entered when creating your password for the first time should help to jog your memory.

The hint you created contains something to help you remember your password. Hopefully, you didn’t use some mathematical equation or physics law as your hint!

2. Try Your Apple ID Credentials

With the release of OS X Mavericks, Apple made it possible to restore a forgotten Mac administrators password by using your Apple ID credentials. Here are the steps:

  1. Try entering your password. After the third failed attempt, select Reset it using your Apple ID below the password field.
  2. Enter your Apple ID and Password and select Reset Password.
  3. Tap OK to update your keychain entry.
  4. Your Mac will boot into macOS Recovery. Tap Forgot all passwords within the Reset Password feature.
  5. Tap on Set Password next to your preferred user account. 
  6. Enter a new password and tap on Set Password.

If you use iCloud Keychain to store your Mac passwords, your Mac will also ask you to enter the passcode of at least one other Apple device you own.

3. Use Another Administrator’s Account

For Mac users with multiple Apple IDs or iCloud accounts, it’s possible to recover the password for the Mac account you have forgotten the password to. Here are the steps:

  1. Log into an alternative administrator account.
  2. From the Apple menu, tap on System Preferences.
  3. Tap on Users & Groups.
  4. Tap on the lock icon to make changes.
  5. Enter the account’s administrator password and select Unlock.
  6. Select the administrator’s account you want to reset and select Reset Password. 
  7. Enter a new password for the account, then tap on Change Password.
  8. Log out of the current account and log back into your administrator account using the new password.
  9. Select the Restart option on the Apple menu, or tap on Exit to Recovery Utilities and then select Restart within the Apple menu.
  10. Log into your Mac using your new administrator password.

4. Enter macOS Recovery Mode

If you lose all your passwords, you can reset your Mac’s administrator password using the Reset Password option within the Terminal of macOS Recovery. Here are the steps:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Hold down the Command + R keys and press the Mac’s Power button to turn it back on, releasing the keys when you see the Apple logo load.
  3. Tap on the Utilities tab and select Terminal.
  4. Type resetpassword into the Terminal window and press Enter.
  5. Tap on the Forgot all passwords option.
  6. Tap on Set Password next to your preferred user account. 
  7. Enter a new password and tap on Set Password.
  8. Select the Restart option on the Apple menu, or tap on Exit to Recovery Utilities and then select Restart within the Apple menu.
  9. Log into your Mac using your new administrator password.

5. Contact Apple Support

If after trying all of the options with no success, your next best step is to contact Apple Support directly to see if they can help to reset your admin password. They may be able to unlock your administrator account remotely without you having to perform a complete reinstallation of your macOS.

6. Reinstall Your macOS

This last method is an extreme measure that will result in the deletion of your data from the Mac’s hard drive. However, if you are using Apple’s Time Machine or another form of backup, data loss can be prevented.

One point to note, this method will not work if FileVault encryption or a firmware password is enabled.

Use this method only if you have no other choice. Reinstalling the OS is the easiest from of recovery mode, so here are the steps:

  1. Restart your Mac computer and enter macOS Recovery (as per the instructions above).
  2. Tap on Disk Utility on the macOS Recovery menu.
  3. Ensure the Macintosh HD name is selected. Tap the Erase button to delete your Mac’s internal data.
  4. Quit the Disk Utility app.
  5. Tap on Reinstall macOS within the macOS Recovery menu.
  6.  Tap on Continue on the Reinstall macOS wizard and follow the onscreen instructions to reinstall macOS. 
  7. Next, follow the instructions on the Setup Assistant to set up your Mac and create a new admin account.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you find our list of options around how to restore a mac password useful. Below we answer a few additional Mac admin password questions, or check out one of our other articles like tips for MacBook users who are new to macOS.

Is there a default Mac admin password?

There is no default admin password.

Is a Mac’s admin password the same as an Apple ID password?

A Mac’s admin password is typically not the same as your Apple ID password.

Final Thoughts On How To Restore A Mac Password

As you would expect, Apple have made macOS incredibly secure. However, Apple have left a few lifelines for resetting your Mac admin password. Best practice is to use a strong reliable password, but the one that will be easy for you to remember.

Writing down passwords on a piece of paper is a terrible idea. Sooner or later, you will lose that list. A well-thought-out and secure storage system is the best way to approach password management.

Stay Curious.
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