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Forgot Your Mac Password? Here’s How to Reset Your Mac Password

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Last updated: September 17, 2023

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Ever felt that sinking feeling when your Mac stares back at you, saying “Incorrect Password”? But Apple hasn’t left you hanging. There are nifty ways to reset your Mac password—no tech wizardry required.

In this easy-to-follow guide, I’m diving straight into the step-by-step methods to get you back in the driver’s seat of your Macbook if you forgot your Mac password.

Basic Checks If You Forgot Your Mac Password

Before you go down the rabbit hole of password-reset procedures, there are some basic checks you should perform. These can save you time and prevent unnecessary headaches.

  1. 🔠 Caps Lock: Simple yet often overlooked. Make sure the Caps Lock key is not enabled unless your password actually contains uppercase letters.
  2. ⌨️ Keyboard Layout: If you’ve used multiple languages or keyboard layouts, ensure you’re using the correct one when entering your password.
  3. 🖱️ External Devices: Sometimes, external peripherals like a keyboard or mouse can interfere. Unplug them and try using the built-in keyboard and trackpad.
  4. 💡 Hint Feature: When you mistype your password a few times, macOS will typically show you a hint. Pay close attention—it might jog your memory.
  5. 👤 Check Username: Ensure you’re trying to log into your own user account. Sometimes, especially on shared computers, you may be trying to access someone else’s account by mistake.
  6. 🔄 Restart: A simple restart can often clear out any temporary glitches that may be causing issues.
  7. 🕒 Last Successful Login: Think back to your last successful login. Was there anything different? Did you change your password or any settings that might affect it?

Taking a few moments to perform these basic checks might save you from the trouble of having to reset your password entirely. If you’ve tried all these and are still locked out, it’s time to dive into the password reset methods we’ll explore next.

How to Reset Your Mac Password

Alright, so you’ve run through the basic checks, tried every password permutation you can think of, and you’re still locked out. No worries! The road to recovery is closer than you think. I’m about to embark on a tech rescue mission, guiding you through the most effective methods to reset your Mac password. So, let’s dive in!

1. Get a Password Hint

macOS has a built-in feature that provides a password hint after you’ve entered an incorrect password three times in a row. This hint is something you would have set up when initially creating or last updating your password.

Here’s how to get a password hint on your Mac:

  1. Go ahead and deliberately enter an incorrect password at the login screen.
  2. After three failed attempts, macOS will display your password hint.
  3. Read the hint. Sometimes it’s all you need to jog your memory and get you back into your account.

Remember, a password hint is supposed to be a clue, not an answer. It’s designed to spark that “Aha!” moment that leads you to remember your password.

2. Use Your Apple ID

If you’ve linked your Apple ID to your Mac account—which is often set up during the initial configuration of a new Mac or after a macOS update—you have a straightforward way to reset your password. Here’s how to use your Apple ID to reset your Mac password:

  1. After several failed attempts to log in, you should see a message asking if you’d like to reset your password using your Apple ID.
  2. Click Next or Arrow icon that appears on the login screen to proceed with the Apple ID-based reset method.
click reset it using apple id password
  1. You’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID email and password. Make sure to enter them correctly, and ensure you’re connected to the internet.
enter apple id and password and press re set password
  1. After entering your Apple ID information, you’ll be guided through a series of prompts to create a new password for your Mac account.
  2. Choose the user account you want to reset the password for, and click Next.
  3. Type your new password details, and click Next. Choose something you can remember, but that’s also strong and unique.
  4. Once the password reset process is complete, click Restart.
  5. Use the newly reset password to log into your Mac and get back to business!

Remember, this method only works if you’ve previously linked an Apple ID with your Mac account and have a stable internet connection.

3. Try Another Admin Account

If you share your Mac with someone else or have set up multiple accounts for yourself, one of them might have administrative privileges. An admin account can easily reset the password for another user account on the same Mac.

Here’s how to try another admin account to reset your Mac password:

  1. Restart your Mac and log in using an account that has administrative rights.
  2. Once you’re logged in, go to the Apple menu in the top-left corner and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, click Users & Groups.
click users and groups in system settings
  1. Select the user account you want to change the password for and click the small i icon next to the username.
click the i next to your user account
  1. In the new window, click Change Password.
tap change password
  1. Follow the prompts to create a new password.
  1. Once you’ve entered and verified the new password, a confirmation message will appear, indicating the password has been successfully changed.
  2. Log out of the admin account and back into your personal account using the new password.

And voilà! You’ve reset your Mac password using another admin account. This method is a lifesaver if you have access to another admin account.

4. Use a FileVault Recovery Key

FileVault is Apple’s disk encryption program, and if you have it enabled, it provides an extra layer of security for your Mac. One of the features of FileVault is the creation of a Recovery Key, a unique string of characters that you can use to unlock your encrypted disk in emergencies, including forgotten passwords.

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

  1. First, make sure you’ve enabled FileVault on your Mac.
  2. At the login interface, input the wrong password thrice. A message will appear, inquiring if you want to reset the password using your recovery key.
  3. Click the arrow icon to proceed with using your Recovery Key for the reset.
  4. Accurately type your recovery key into the designated space and hit Next.
  5. Key in your new password and a hint for it, then press Next.
  6. A confirmation message will display, signaling your password has been successfully reset.
  7. Select Continue Log In and use your freshly reset password to gain entry to your Mac.

Using a FileVault Recovery Key is a secure and effective way to regain access to your Mac, but it’s essential to keep the key in a safe place. If you’ve lost the recovery key and other methods have failed, you might have to erase your disk and start from scratch, which will result in the loss of data.

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.

5. Enter a Single-User Mode and Use Terminal

Single-User Mode grants you root access to your system, allowing you to make low-level changes. Proceed with caution and make sure you have a backup of important data.

This method is geared towards advanced users who are comfortable with UNIX commands and understand the risks involved.

Here’s how to use Terminal in Single-User Mode to reset your Mac password:

  1. Shut down your Mac, then turn it back on.
  2. As it restarts, hold down Command ⌘ + S to boot into Single-User Mode.
press command s
  1. You’ll see a black screen with white text, indicating you are in Single-User Mode. You’ll be given command-line access to the system.
  2. Before making any changes, you need to mount the root filesystem as writable. Type the following and press Enter:
mount -uw /
  1. Type the following and press Enter:
launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.opendirectoryd.plist
  1. Type the following and press Enter:
passwd username

Here, replace username with the name of your account that you want to change the password for.

  1. Type your new password and press Enter.
  2. Retype the new password and press Enter again.
  3. Type the following and press Enter:
Reboot

This will successfully reset your Mac password.

6. Use Target Disk Mode

Target Disk Mode is a feature available on most Macs that allows one Mac to access the internal hard drive of another Mac, treating it like an external disk. This can be a handy way to reset a forgotten password, especially if you have a second Mac at your disposal.

Be warned, though, that this method could potentially expose all files on your Mac, so it’s essential to handle it responsibly.

Here’s how to reset your Mac password using the Target Disk Mode:

  1. Ensure both Macs have a compatible port (Thunderbolt, FireWire, or USB-C) for connecting them.
  2. Power off both Macs and use a compatible cable to connect them.
  3. Power up the Mac you want to reset while holding down the T key until you see the Target Disk Mode screen (an icon and a loading bar).
  4. Power up the other Mac and log in as usual.
  5. The drive of the Mac in Target Disk Mode should appear on the desktop of the second Mac.
  6. Open the drive and navigate to /Users/[yourusername].
  7. Delete the folder named Keychains. This will delete all saved passwords but will allow you to reset your user password upon the next login.
  8. Eject the target disk from the second Mac, then restart the Mac whose password you want to reset.
  9. Upon startup, macOS will detect the absence of a keychain and guide you through setting a new login password.
  10. Test your new password to make sure you can log in without issues.

Using Target Disk Mode is a workaround that should be handled with care due to the security risks involved. But when you’re out of options, this could be your ticket back into your Mac.

7. Boot Your Mac Into Recovery Mode

If all else fails, Recovery Mode is your last resort. This powerful feature allows you to perform various tasks, including resetting your Mac password. Note that this is a more advanced method and should be used with caution. Make sure to back up any important data before proceeding.

Here’s how to boot your Mac into recovery mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the power button to turn on your Mac.
macbook pro touch id
  1. As soon as your Mac begins to restart, hold down the Command ⌘ + R keys together until you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe.
hold down the command ⌘ r keys together
  1. Once your Mac has booted into Recovery Mode, you’ll see a macOS Utilities window.
  2. Select Terminal from the Utilities menu at the top.
  3. A Terminal window will appear. Type the following command and press Enter:
resetpassword
  1. A Reset Password window will appear, listing all the user accounts linked to your Mac.
  2. Select the account for which you need to reset the password.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to create a new password. You’ll also be asked to enter a new password hint.
  4. After you’ve entered the new password, click Save. You’ll see a message indicating the password has been reset. Click OK, and restart your Mac.
  5. Once your Mac restarts, you can log in using the new password you’ve just set.

By now, you should have successfully reset your Mac password using Recovery Mode. While it’s a more involved process, it’s an almost foolproof way to regain access to your Mac.

How to Avoid the Forgot Mac Password Issue

Forgetting your Mac password can be a stressful experience, but it’s an issue that’s often easily avoidable with some proactive steps. Taking precautionary measures can save you time and prevent the headache of going through various reset methods.

Here are some ways to dodge the bullet:

  1. 🛡️ Use a Password Manager: A password manager can securely store all your passwords, including your Mac login. This way, you only have to remember one strong master password.
  2. 🔄 Regularly Update Your Password: Make it a habit to change your password every few months. It’s easier to remember a password that you’ve recently set.
  3. 📝 Write it Down: Old-fashioned maybe, but effective. Write your password down and keep it in a super-secure place that only you or trusted family members can access. Just make sure it’s separate from your Mac.
  4. 💡 Password Hint: When setting up your Mac password, create a password hint that only you would understand. This could be a lifesaver for jogging your memory when you’re drawing a blank.
  5. 📲 Two-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID. In addition to your password, you will need a verification code to log in, adding an extra layer of security and a possible recovery method.
  6. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Family Sharing: If you have multiple people using Macs in your household, consider setting up Family Sharing. This allows family members to reset each other’s passwords.
  7. 💽 Regular Backups: Regularly back up your Mac to an external drive or iCloud. In the worst-case scenario where you have to erase your Mac, at least you won’t lose your data.
  8. ✅ Test Your Recovery Methods: Periodically test any recovery email or phone number associated with your Apple ID to ensure they are accessible and correct. This will be invaluable in a password recovery scenario.

By following these tips, you’re less likely to find yourself locked out of your Mac. And even if you do, you’ll have set up several safety nets to make recovery a simple process.

Never Worry About Your Mac Password Again

Forgetting your Mac password can feel like a daunting hurdle, but as I’ve outlined, there are multiple ways to regain access to your Mac. From the straightforward method of using Apple ID and Password Hints to more technical approaches like Single-User Mode and Target Disk Mode, you’re never completely locked out.

Here are some more tips about Mac passwords:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When does a Mac require a password?

    A Mac typically requires a password during startup, waking from sleep, installing new software, and making system changes. This security measure protects your personal data and system settings. Password prompts may also appear when making purchases via the App Store or accessing password-protected files and services.

  2. Can I set up my Mac so it doesn’t need a password?

    Yes, you can set up your Mac to log in automatically without requiring a password. However, this diminishes your security, making it easier for unauthorized users to access your data. To disable the password, go to System Settings > Users & Groups > Automatic log in as, and choose the account you want to log in to without a password.

  3. Can I reset my Mac’s login password with another user account?

    Yes, if you have access to another admin account on the same Mac, you can reset the login password of a different user. Log in to the admin account, go to System Settings > Users & Groups, select the account you wish to reset, and follow the prompts to change the password.

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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