University of Oregon

How to Reset Your Mac System Password


If you forget the password for your account on your Macintosh, it limits your ability to make changes to settings, add or remove programs, and overall achieve complete functionality with your Mac. Fortunately, Apple has made it relatively easy to reset this password. There are two simple methods to do this:

Method 1 - Using an installation disk or the recovery partition

Note: recovery partitions are only availnbale on OSX 10.7 and newer. 10.6 and below will require the disk method.

  1. Insert your Mac OS X installation disk (if using this method).
  2. Restart your computer holding down the Option key.
  3. You will have a choice to boot from your hard drive, recovery partition, or the cd. Choose the cd or recovery partition and click the arrow button under the icon.
  4. Choose your language and click continue until the tool bar appears at the top of the screen. It will usually come up after two windows.
  5. Click on Utilities then select Reset pasword. If this option is not available select Terminal. When Terminal loads enter "resetpassword" without the quotes and press enter. This will launch the password reset utility 
  6. You will have the option select the hard drive where the user acount is located. There will probably be one option labeled Macintosh HD as in the image below. Select it. 
  7. Next select the user from the drop down menu you would like to edit, then enter and reenter a new user password and optional hint then click save. 
  8. You can now restart the computer normally and use the new password to log in to the user account.

Method 2 - Possible when there is another administrator account on the computer

  1. Log in with the administrator account with a known password. 
  2. From the Apple menu choose System Preferences.
  3. From the View menu choose Accounts.
  4. Click the lock button if it appears locked; enter the administrator password.
  5. Select the username whose password you want to change.
  6. Click the Reset Password button or the Change Password button
  7. Enter a new password in both the Password and Verify fields, and add a hint if desired.
  8. Click the Change Password button
  9. If a dialog box appears with the message "Your Keychain password will be changed to your new account password," click OK

Note: While it is not necessary to have a system password, it is highly recommended.

For further assistance contact the UO Technoloy Service Desk