6 Replies Latest reply: Oct 22, 2014 8:13 PM by rccharles
nygrosity Level 1 (0 points)

My administrator password does not work. How to I reset it?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Kappy Level 10 (265,756 points)

    Forgot Your Account Password


    For Snow Leopard and earlier


         Mac OS X 10.6- If you forget your administrator password


    For Lion/Mountain Lion


        Boot to the Recovery HD:


    Restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the COMMAND and R keys until the menu screen appears. Alternatively, restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the OPTION key until the boot manager screen appears. Select the Recovery HD and click on the downward pointing arrow button.


         When the menubar appears select Terminal from the Utilities menu.

         Enter resetpassword at the prompt and press RETURN. Follow

         instructions in the dialog window that will appear.


         Or see Reset a Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Password and

         OS X Lion- Apple ID can be used to reset your user account password.


    If you cannot do the above then try this:


      1. Boot to Safe Mode by restarting and after the chime press and hold down the COMMAND-S keys until a black screen with white type appears.


      2. At the prompt, type the following commands pressing return after each command line:


         /sbin/fsck -yf


         If you do not receive a "Filesystem OK" message then repeat this command until

         you do.  If after seven tries you still do not receive a "Filesystem OK" message,

         then the system is corrupted and needs to be reinstalled.


         mount -uw /

         cd /private/var/db/netinfo

         mv local.nidb local.old

         rm ../.AppleSetupDone

         shutdown -r now


    The second-to-last command above will cause OS X to think that the operating system is newly installed, and when the new owner starts up the computer it will send him/her to the startup wizard where he/she can start a new user without reinstalling.


    This last method does not actually change a password. It simply removes the user accounts and lets you create an initial admin account as if the computer were new out of the box.


    How to reset the OS X password without a startup CD:

    Reboot into Single-user Mode. Enter the following and press RETURN after each command line


    1. Type fsck -fy

    2. Type mount -uw /

    3. Type passwd <username>


    I have never tried this method myself.

  • rccharles Level 5 (7,574 points)

    Do not issue this command, unless you know what it does.


    mv local.nidb local.old


    This command will remove all your current accounts.  Leaving this command out lets you add a new admin account to your existing accounts.


    Rename is for when you account database gets messed up.


    Here is what I recommend for this step.



    Get the Mac to set up  an additional administrative account.  You can then change the password on your old account.


    Start with your computer power off.  Hold down command-s. Power on your computer.  


    Type in the following:


    The first two commands will depend on your release of Mac OS X.  Look at what is typed out in the console to determine the exact format.

    # Type the follow two instructions to access the startup disk in read/write. Press return after each command.

    /sbin/fsck -fy

    /sbin/mount -uw /


    cd /var/db


    #List all files. The l is a lower case L.

    ls -a

    #The move command acts as a rename command in this format.

    mv -i  .applesetupdone .applesetupdone.old


    # reboot  your mac

    shutdown -r now


    Once you've done that the computer reboots and it's like the first time you used the machine. Your old accounts are all safe. From there you just change all other account passwords in the account preferences!!

    Limnos adds detailed explainations:



    The above the idea came from a post by JoseAranda at September 9, 2006 3:48 AM


    You will need to scroll down to see this post.  Search for applesetupdone


    This method is mentioned in an apple support page without giving an explanation.


    Once you have a new administrative account, you can change the password of your old administrative account

    blue apple > System Preferences > Accounts

  • Kappy Level 10 (265,756 points)

    Actually, as the command line is written it simply moves the local.nidb file to a backup file named local.old. The user can still return it to replace a new local.nidb file if needed.


    The outlined procedure is intended for a user with only one account, and that account is no longer usable for some reason. In fact, I think I have seen the procedure outlined elsewhere that included a warning not to use it on machines with multiple accounts.


    Thanks for the added information. Very useful.

  • rccharles Level 5 (7,574 points)

    For more info:



    I read it as you have to rename or delete the database then recreate it before booting!  Apple Mac OS recovers from a lot of errors.  I'd would be surprised if it recreated the net info database.


    mv -i  .applesetupdone .applesetupdone.old


    Since some people have reported a boot loop of OS X always asking for new admin account.  At least, you can rename to say initial boot as completed.




    I'd suggest trying to get a new administrator then if that doesn't work try recreating the net info database.

  • JHM Level 1 (5 points)

    I don't have an Administrator Password. The explanations here are gibberish to me. I am ready to  choose between killing myself or taking a sledge hammer to my stinking macintosh. Bye.

  • rccharles Level 5 (7,574 points)

    What mac do you have? What Mac OS X is it running?


    With this information, we can better pinpoint what instructions to use.


    Query by serial number

    Apple's warrenty database will identify the type of Mac you have.  Your serial number is securely sent.  Provides more information for newer machines.



    This site provides more information.  Best for older machines.  Note, serial number is sent in the clear.

    "A serial number is a unique, identifying number or group of numbers and letters assigned to an individual piece of hardware or software. It's used for various things depending on the product / brand but what is your Mac's serial number for and more importantly... what is it hiding and what can it do for you ?"





    Here is how to find out what version of Mac OS you are running:

    Click on the blue apple in the upper left hand of the screen.


    click on this icon

    Picture 8.png


    Click on the first line, "About This Mac"


    Picture 9.png

    Most of these are numbers & that's what we want.