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MacBook Password Not Working? 9 Quick Fixes to Try

Troubleshoot and resolve MacBook password issues.

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Last updated: December 25, 2023

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TL;DR

If your MacBook password is not working, follow these steps to reset it:

  1. Start Mac and go to the login window.
  2. Enter the incorrect Mac password thrice to get a warning message.
  3. Click Reset it using Apple ID.
  4. Enter your Apple ID and password, and click Reset Password.
  5. Select a user account and click Next.
  6. Enter new password details and click Next.
  7. After the password reset, click Restart.

If this doesn’t work, check out other quick fixes in this guide.

Have you ever typed in your MacBook password, and it just doesn’t work? I’ve been there too. It’s really frustrating when you can’t get into your own computer, especially when you have to get something done urgently. In this guide, I’ll show you how to fix the MacBook password not working issue with simple steps that I learned from my own experience.

Before We Begin

Sometimes, your MacBook password might not work because of malware. A good solution for this is MacKeeper. It helps find and fix malware issues and keeps your MacBook safe. Just download MacKeeper, and it’ll guard your Mac against harmful attacks.

Basic Troubleshooting If MacBook Password Isn’t Working

Before you jump into advanced troubleshooting methods, you should rule out a few basic issues:

  • 🤔 Double-check that you’re typing your password correctly.
  • 🔒 Verify that the caps lock is not accidentally turned on.
  • 🕰️ Avoid using an outdated or old password.
  • 💻 Try using a different keyboard or test it with another computer.
  • 🖨️ Consider using an external keyboard to enter the password if available.

If none of these methods work, try the advanced solutions below.

How to Fix MacBook Password Not Working Issue

Why You Can Trust MacBook Journal verify badge We always conduct first-hand research and verify every method or solution we present, ensuring you receive reliable and effective advice. Learn more about our process.

Below, I’ve shared some solutions you can try to fix the MacBook password not working issue.

1. Check Your Mac for Malware With MacKeeper

Before you try advanced solutions, check your Mac for malware using MacKeeper. It can find and remove any viruses or malware that might be causing the password issue. Just run a full scan with MacKeeper to start fixing the problem.

Here are the steps to run a virus scan on your Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Open MacKeeper on your Mac and click the Antivirus tab in the left-hand menu.
click antivirus under the security section
  1. Click the Start Scan button to start scanning your system for malware and viruses.
click start scan in mackeeper antivirus
  1. Wait for the scan to complete, which may take several minutes, depending on the size of your system and the number of files being scanned.
  2. Once the scan is complete, MacKeeper will display a list of issues. Review the list of issues and click the Fix button to resolve them.
  3. If no threats are found, click the Restart button to run the scan again or close the program.
click restart to finish the process

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides running a virus scan, MacKeeper can clean your temp files on Mac, update your apps on Mac, clear the cache on your Mac, and remove login items. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to learn more about its features.

If malware is the cause of your MacBook password not working, running a virus scan should fix the issue.

2. Reset Your Password on Mac

If you have forgotten your Mac’s password, you can reset it using your Apple ID or the Recovery Key feature.

a. Reset Mac Password Using Apple ID

To reset your Mac password using Apple ID, follow these steps:

  1. Start your Mac and go to the login window. You should see Shut Down, Restart, and Sleep buttons in the login window.
  2. Enter the Mac login password you remember 3 times, and you’ll get the following message. Click Reset it using your Apple ID.
click reset it using apple id password
  1. Enter your Apple ID and password, and click Reset Password.
enter apple id and password and press re set password
  1. Choose the user account you want to reset the password for, and click Next.
  2. Type your new password details, and click Next.
  3. Once the password reset process is complete, click Restart.

b. Reset Mac Password Using Recovery Key

If you’ve set up a Recovery Key for your Mac, you can use it to reset your password.

A Recovery Key is a unique, case-sensitive alphanumeric code generated when you enable FileVault Disk Encryption on your Mac. FileVault is a built-in feature in macOS that encrypts the data on your startup disk, ensuring your files and personal information are secure.

Here’s how to reset your Mac password using the Recovery Key:

The following steps will only appear if you have already enabled FileVault from your System Settings and have the Recovery Key.

  1. On the login screen, enter an incorrect password three times. This will prompt a message asking if you want to reset the password using your recovery key.
  2. Click the arrow icon next to reset it using your Recovery Key.
  3. Carefully type your Recovery Key in the provided field and click Next.
  4. Enter your new password and password hint, and click Next.
  5. You will see a message confirming that your password has been reset.
  6. Click Continue Log In and enter your new password to access your Mac.

The Recovery Key is case-sensitive, so enter it exactly as it was created. If you lose your Recovery Key or can’t use it to reset your password, you might need to contact Apple Support for further assistance.

3. Reset Your Mac’s NVRAM

NVRAM is a part of your MacBook that remembers settings like screen size and sound level, even when it’s off. If it has problems, your MacBook password might not work. Resetting NVRAM can solve this and other issues.

Follow these steps to reset the NVRAM on your Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Turn it back on, and press and hold Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + P + R.
macbook air option command p r keys
  1. Keep these keys held down for about 20 seconds until your Mac restarts.
  2. When your Mac restarts, try to log in again using the password.

NVRAM reset only works for Intel-based Macs, not Apple Silicon Macs.

4. Boot Your Mac Into Safe Mode

In Safe Mode, macOS starts with only the essentials it needs to load. If your password works in Safe Mode, your problem likely lies with an update or third-party app. Follow these steps to boot your Mac into Safe Mode:

For Intel Macs

  1. Shut your Mac down.
  2. Press the power button, then press and hold Shift until you see the login window.
macbook air shift key
  1. Enter your password.
  2. If you’re asked to log in again, do it as before.
  3. On one of these login screens, you should see Safe Boot in the menu bar.
safe boot mode on mac

For Apple Silicon Macs

  1. Turn off your Mac.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Press and hold the Power button until you see the startup options screen.
loading startup options screen on mac
  1. Select your main drive.
select a volume
  1. Press and hold Shift , then click Continue in Safe Mode.
macbook air shift key
  1. Your Mac should restart by itself, and you should see Safe Boot in the menu bar.
safe boot mode on mac

5. Reset Your Mac’s SMC

While it might not seem directly related to password issues, resetting your Mac’s SMC can sometimes fix MacBook password not working problems, especially if they’re caused by hardware or system glitches.

Here’s how to reset the SMC on your Mac:

For MacBooks with T2 Security Chips

  1. Turn off your MacBook.
  2. Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds, then restart your Mac.
  3. If you still can’t log in, turn it off again, and press and hold right Shift ⇧ + Option ⌥+ Control ^ for 7 seconds.
macbook air ctrl shift option key
  1. While holding down those keys, press and hold the power button for 7 seconds before releasing them.
  2. Now, restart your MacBook and see if your password works.

For desktop Macs

  1. Navigate to the Apple icon> Shut Down.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Wait for your Mac to shut down.
  2. Once that is done, unplug the power cord from your Mac.
  3. After 15 seconds, plug in the power cord.
  4. Lastly, wait for 5 more seconds, and power on your MacBook.

6. Create a New User Account

Creating a new user account on your MacBook can be a useful step if you’re facing password recognition problems.

Remember, creating a new user account will give you a fresh start, but it won’t have your existing files or settings. You may need to transfer files or set up apps again in the new account.

Follow the steps below to create a new user account on Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon and choose System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Users & Groups in System Settings.
click users and groups in system settings
  1. Click the Add User button.
click add user in user and groups
  1. Enter your administrator’s name and password and tap Unlock.
enter your admin id and password in user and groups pop up and click unlock
  1. Enter the required information, including the user’s name, account name, and password, and click Create User.
fill in the details and click create user
  1. Log out of your current account and log in to the newly created account to see if the password works.

7. Boot Into Recovery Mode

If you’re still struggling with your Mac password not working, try booting it into Recovery Mode and using Terminal. This method of resetting user passwords works with all recent macOS versions and doesn’t require any complex Terminal commands.

Important Note: If your Mac uses FileVault disk encryption, you’ll need to use the FileVault recovery key or your Apple ID to reset your password. If you can’t access either of these, you may not be able to reset your password using this method.

To fix the password not working issue by booting your Mac into Recovery Mode, follow these steps:

  1. Restart your Mac.
  2. Immediately hold down the Command ⌘ + R keys simultaneously right after you hear the startup chime.
macbook air command r keys
  1. Release the keys when the Apple logo or spinning globe appears. This will boot your Mac into Recovery Mode.
  2. Once in Recovery Mode, you’ll see the macOS Utilities window.
  3. From the menu bar at the top of the screen, select Utilities and choose Terminal.
  4. In the Terminal, type resetpassword and press Enter. This will open the Reset Password window.
  5. In the Reset Password window, you’ll be asked to select the volume that contains the user account. Choose the Macintosh HD or the name of the volume where your user account resides. Then, select your user account from the list.
  6. Follow the prompts to create a new password. You’ll be asked to enter the new password twice for verification and add a password hint.
  7. After entering the new password and hint (if desired), click Next or Save.
  8. Once the password has been reset, restart your Mac by going to the Apple menu and selecting Restart.
  9. After the restart, use the new password to log in to your account.

8. Factory Reset Your Mac

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t log in with the right password, you might have to reset your Mac to its original settings. This is a big step, but it can help if nothing else works.

It’s important to note that this process erases all data on your Mac and should be approached with caution.

Here’s how to factory reset your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Transfer or Reset.
click general and select transfer or reset
  1. In the Transfer or Reset menu, click the Erase All Content and Settings button.
click the erase all content and settings button
  1. Enter your admin password and click Unlock.
enter your macbook password and click unlock
  1. Click Continue to proceed with the erasing process in the macOS Erase Assistant.
click continue to confirm deleting content and settings
  1. If asked, sign out of your Apple ID account.
enter your apple id password to sign out of apple id and click continue
  1. Click Erase All Content & Settings.
  1. After resetting your Mac, it will reboot and display a black screen. You’ll need to pair any Bluetooth accessories, such as a mouse or keyboard, by following the instructions.
  2. During this process, you may be prompted to select a language.
  3. You’ll be prompted to choose a Wi-Fi network. When you successfully connect to the network, your Mac will become activated, and you’ll see a message on the screen indicating that Your Mac is Activated.
  4. To proceed with the setup, simply click the Restart button.
  5. After the reset, you can create a new user account with a new password.

9. Contact Apple Support

If no other solution worked, it’s time to contact Apple Support for expert assistance. They offer various support options, including online chat, phone, or in-person support at an Apple Store.

You can also take your Mac to an Apple Store or authorized service provider to have it diagnosed and fixed by professionals. You might qualify for free or discounted repair services if your Mac is still under warranty or you have AppleCare+ for Mac. Remember to check your coverage and warranty information before seeking professional help to save costs.

Why Is Your MacBook Password Not Working?

There are several reasons why your MacBook password might not be working. Here are some common causes:

  1. 🗝️ Incorrect Password: The most obvious reason is that you’re entering an incorrect password. This could be due to a typing error, caps lock being on, or simply forgetting the correct password.
  2. ⌨️ Keyboard Issues: Mac keyboard not working can also result in incorrect password entry.
  3. 💻 Software Glitches: Glitches in macOS can cause login problems, often due to updates or corrupted files.
  4. 🧠 NVRAM or PRAM Issues: Problems with NVRAM or PRAM, which store settings, can lead to password recognition issues.
  5. 🦠 Malware: Malware infections can also cause unusual behavior on your MacBook, including issues with password recognition.
  6. 📁 File System Corruption: Corruption in the file system might prevent proper login.
  7. 🔧 Hardware Problems: Less commonly, hardware issues such as a damaged hard drive or other critical components can interfere with the login process.
  8. 👤 Account Problems: Sometimes, the issue lies with user account settings in macOS.

What If Your Mac Won’t Accept Correct Password

If you’ve tried basic troubleshooting like restarting your Mac and double-checking the Caps Lock, but your correct Mac password doesn’t work, try one of the following fixes:

  1. Check for Keychain Issues: Sometimes, issues with the Keychain can cause password problems. Access Keychain Access in the Utilities folder to verify and repair Keychain settings.
  2. Update macOS in Safe Mode: Boot into Safe Mode and check for any available macOS updates. An outdated system can sometimes lead to password recognition issues.
  3. Delete Login Keychain Items: If possible, access the Keychain Access utility and delete items related to login passwords. Be cautious with this step as it can lead to loss of saved passwords.
  4. Seek Professional Help: If none of these steps work, it might be time to consult with an Apple Certified Professional or visit an Apple Store for specialized assistance.

Get Your MacBook Password Working Again

Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding MacBook password issues. To avoid this hassle, consider the following simple tips:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How to change my MacBook password?

    To change your MacBook password, navigate to the Apple menu > System Settings and select Touch ID & Password. Click the Change button next to A login password had been set for this user, add your old password, type the new password, verify it, and add a password hint. Then, click Change Password.

  2. Can I use Touch ID to log in to my MacBook?

    Yes, you can use Touch ID to log in to your MacBook if this feature is available. To set up Touch ID, head to the Apple menu > System Settings > Touch ID & Password. In the Touch ID section, click the Add Fingerprint button and enter your Mac password in the window that appears. Then, place your finger on the Touch ID sensor until it says Touch ID is Ready.

  3. Why is my MacBook password not working after updating macOS?

    If your MacBook password is not working after updating macOS, a glitch or a software issue could be causing the problem. You can restart your MacBook, reset your password, or contact Apple Support for further assistance.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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