How to Create a New Administrator Account on Mac OS

Jul 17, 2017 - 4 Comments

How to create a new Admin account on Mac

An administrator account has full access to everything on the Mac, it can install software updates, uninstall and install applications, access and delete system files, access other user files on the same computer, and perform any other administrative type of task. Sometimes it can be helpful to create a new separate administrator account on a Mac, usually for a different person to use, or for troubleshooting purposes, or to differentiate a designated admin account from the primary user account. This walkthrough will show you who to make a new admin account in Mac OS.

It’s important to point out that because an administrator account has complete access to anything on the Mac, you should not create a new admin account for just anybody. Be aware that if you do give someone an administrator login, they can perform any administrator task, including installing and removing software, reading and accessing other user files, modifying system files, and much more. An administrator account is not suitable for casual guest access. If a guest wants to use your computer, a much better solution is to setup and use the Guest User account on the Mac, which has very limited access to exposure to the rest of the Mac. If you expect someone to regularly use your Mac, make a new Standard user account for them instead of an admin account.

Creating a New Administrator Account in Mac OS

The process of making a new admin account works the same in practically every version of macOS and Mac OS X, from the latest versions to the oldest. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
  2. Go to system prefs

  3. Go to “Users & Groups”
  4. Creating a new admin user account on the Mac

  5. Click on the lock icon in the corner, then enter an existing administrator account user and password to unlock the preference panel
  6. Creating a new admin user account on the Mac

  7. Now click the “+” plus button to create a new user account
  8. Creating a new admin user account on the Mac

  9. Pull down the submenu next to “New Account” and choose “Administrator” from the dropdown menu
  10. Choose to create a new admin account

  11. Fill out the user account details for the new Administrator account: full name, account name, password, and a password hint, then click on “Create User” to create the new Administrator account for the Mac
  12. Create a new admin account in Mac OS

That’s all there is to it, the newly Administrator account has been created and will be accessible at the login screens on the Mac.

User accounts at the login screen on a Mac

Note that every Mac must always have at least one administrator account. By default, when you setup a new Mac, that default user account on setup is an administrator account.

If you create a new admin account (or a new standard account), you can easily delete that user account later too if need be. Aside from removing unused accounts, that can be helpful for if you need to set up a temporary Admin account for a troubleshooting task, and then when finished troubleshooting, that account can be removed.

It’s also worth noting that you can create a new general Standard user account instead, and then later decide to change a standard account into an administrator account (which can be accomplished at the command line too).

On a related topic, one fairly common pro security-conscious strategy is to create a new separate standard user account and use that Standard account exclusively for most day-to-day computer usage. Then, only login and access the administrator account when specific admin tasks need to be performed. That strategy can help to prevent possible exposures or data breaches in some scenarios, but it can be a little cumbersome to switch back and forth between two different user accounts for different computing tasks. In a similar manner, many advanced users will create a new user account (admin or standard) on the same Mac, and use one account exclusively for work purposes, and one account exclusively for personal purposes – that’s a great strategy for people who work and play on the same computer hardware, as it helps to keep work and personal identities, activities, documents, and files separate.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

4 Comments

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  1. Meat says:

    It isn’t entirely necessary to switch user accounts if you are currently using a standard user account.

    Typically, you can just use the administrator account credentials when prompted.

  2. Graham Lyons says:

    The iMax I bought a few years never needed an administrator password. The need for one was removed as I would be and am the only user. Whenever I wanted to download a new app the warning message would arrive on screen asking for password and which I left blank and simply clicked ‘continue’ or similar.
    Now I am suddenly being asked for a password and can’t get any further with the down.
    Is there anyway I can restore a ‘blank’ password or even, if I have to, create a new one?
    I realise that, if this were easy to do, in most cases,
    it would be easy to breach security.

  3. Ken says:

    It is a good idea to create a admin account, then change your personal account so that it is not an administrator.

    Two advantages: 1. Any malware that gets into your personal account won’t have admin privileges. 2. When you disclose your admin account credentials at the genius bar, they will not be working in your personal account.

    Turn off account switching. You never have to log into the admin account in the GUI.

    When you install software from an admin account (which you are doing now), you’re prompted for your username and password. The username field is already filled out. You can install software from a regular account, but both fields are blank. You fill in the admin account’s name and the admin account’s password.

    If you use Terminal, the sudo command won’t work from a regular account. It will say your account isn’t allowed to use sudo. No worries! Start your Terminal session with the su command:

    su
    Password:

    Then you can do anything the admin can do in a Terminal window, including the sudo command. You don’t have to switch between accounts, because the GUI is in your account, but Terminal is logged into the admin account.

    If you have to launch a GUI app from the admin account, use su in Terminal, type “open” plus a space, then drag the app’s icon onto the Terminal window and press Enter.

    • Meat says:

      “the su command:

      su
      Password:”

      Should know that “su” should be followed by a space and an administrative username.

      Then hit the enter or return key, and you will be prompted for the admin user’s password.

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