How to Reset your Mac password without your Install disc

by thedj on December 12, 2012

So you forgot your Mac password? Don’t worry, you’re not out of luck. You can reset the lost password and there are several ways to do this. We’re going to focus on the easier one, in my opinion, that doesn’t require any other Mac software or Mac OS Install disc.

Using a pretty cool trick you can reset a forgotten password without a MAC OS installer disc. The steps may seem a little intimidating at first, but I assure you it’s easy if you follow them exactly. Here is exactly how to do this in three easy steps:

Step 1: Boot into Single User Mode and remove a setup file.

  • Restart your Mac holding down the Command +S keys after you hear the ding during startup. This will take you into Single USer Mode.
  • Next you’ll need to check the filesystem first by typing the following command: “fsck -fy” (Do not type the quotations).
  • Next, you must mount the root drive as writeable so that the changes will save by running this command: “mount -uw”
  • Now, type the following command followed by the enter key: “rm /var/db/.applesetupdone”

Running the command above will delete the AppleSetupDone file, now you will need to reboot by typing “reboot” and hit enter.

Step 2: Create a New User Account upon System Boot.

The hard part is now over so no more command lines, you’ll now be in the familiar Mac OS interface to finish the password reset process. In this step we will create a new user account as if you just got a new Mac.

  • Upon reboot, you will be presented with the traditional Welcome Wizard startup screen just like when you first got the computer.
  • Follow the Welcome Wizard and create a new user account making the account name different from the account whose password you want to recover.
  • Continue and boot into Mac OS X with this newly created user account, this new user account is an Administrator and has administrative access.

Step 3: Reset the forgot password via System Preference.

You are almost done, now you just need to reset the forgotten password using the Accounts control panel.

  • Once you are booted into Mac OS X, click on the Apple logo and navigate down to System Preferences.
  • Click on the Accounts icon in System Preferences and then click on the lock icon in the lower left corner of the Accounts preference window and enter the newly created user credentials, this enables you to change other user accounts and reset other users passwords.
  • Now on the left side user panel, select the user account containing the forgotten password and click on the Reset Password button. Enter a new password for that user.
  • Close System Preferences and reboot the computer.

You can now login to the previously locked out user account using the newly reset password! All your files and settings are maintained as before the password was forgotten. If you’d like, you can delete the temporary account you created to reset the users password. This is wise for security purposes.

Here’s how this works: by deleting the AppleSetupDone file, you are telling the Mac OS to rerun the wizard, which by default creates a new user with Administrative abilities, which can then reset the forgotten password of any other user on the Mac. This is a great trick and excellent troubleshooting technique if you don’t have a Mac OS X installer disc near by.

Do you have an easier way? Leave a comment and let me know.

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