Reset a Lost Password in Mac OS X with a Boot Disk

Feb 21, 2010 - 15 Comments

reset lost password mac os x If you’ve forgotten or lost your password in Mac OS X, you can reset a password by booting from a Mac OS X install disk.

  • Insert the Mac OS X install disk into your drive, reboot the machine, and hold down the “C” key to boot from the disk.
  • Once booted, select your language preference then pull down the ‘Utilities’ menu to “Password Reset” or “Reset Password” (wording is different depending on which version of Mac OS X you’re booting with).
  • Select the disk which the password needs to be reset on, select the Username, and then enter a new password.
  • Reboot as usual, and your Mac OS X password will be reset!

If you don’t have a CD or DVD handy you can still reset your forgot Mac password using a slightly more complex process involving the Terminal.

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Posted by: Manish Patel in Mac OS X

15 Comments

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  1. So this is a big security hole? Anyone with an install disk can see my files after changing the password?

  2. Sven says:

    no, it isnt. if you set Master password you cant do this. So set a master password

  3. xylo says:

    use filevault and nobody can see your files ever, and if you ever forget the filevault password, youll never be able to see them yourself. secure as it gets.

  4. @Sven

    If you mean a firmware password then I agree.
    ;-)

  5. Murphy says:

    @Arie It’s a pretty standard expectation to be able to unlock a user account with relative ease when you have physical access to a machine. If that’s not enough security for you encryption is probably what you’re looking for.

    I thought this was great when it came out…
    http://creativetechs.com/tips/tip_resources/PocketMod/MyMacWontStart-PocketMod.pdf

  6. Frank says:

    @Arie
    Physical access is root access. No matter how hard you try there are always ways around passwords as long as someone has physical access to your computer. Some methods just take a bit more knowledge than others. An install disk is unnecessary to complete this task although it is much more convenient.

  7. Prashant Srivastava says:

    Ok. I know the process you have explained here. But I have another problem that I have lost my Mac OS X install disk and I have forgotten my password. But I set my system as automatic login, so I have access to my system but I am unable to change the password and I can not configure my OS X becoz it asks for the system password which I have lost. So if anyone can help me here I would be thankful to him….

  8. word more says:

    Just go download a torrent for the version of os x you have, burn the .dmg file to a disk, and you have a new disk. BUT DON”T DO THIS BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL!!!

  9. Anon A Moose! says:

    Working in Apple tech support, this tool is freaking invaluable. Do you know how many people call every day because they forgot their passwords (hint: it’s more than five)?

  10. [...] is borrowed from our article on how to reset a lost password with a CD. This is obviously an easier method but it’s of no help if you own a MacBook Air with no DVD [...]

    • paul says:

      not true – the air has a restore usb disk; i’ve got one, and this does seem to be a security hole since one can easily reset admin and root passwords using the aoo

  11. [...] is borrowed from our article on how to reset a lost password with a CD. This is obviously an easier method but it’s of no help if you own a MacBook Air with no DVD [...]

  12. MJDoko says:

    Followed the process meticulously, but sadly at the “Reset Password” window, there is only the Mac Os Installation DVD volume available. My HD were the password is on did not show.

    Also tried the other process of using the Command + S and sadly too the terminal window wont last more than couple of seconds before launching back to the log in window on its own. I guess these are some of the security improvements that Leopard has brought to the fold.

    Any other way of getting into my system, without having to reformat because, my files are not backup at all.

  13. Andreea says:

    I try to do this but holding down the C doesn’t bring anything up even when I try restarting the computer. How do I make sure it does?

  14. tony McMills says:

    I bought Macbook Pro which has 3 Apple ID one is mine .I have OSX 10.9 how do I get rid of the other 2 Apple ID . Don’t know passwords

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