Assign an Apple ID to a Mac User Account in Mac OS X for Added Peace of Mind

Jul 4, 2013 - Leave a Comment

Apple logo Some Mac users overlook a feature in macOS / Mac OS X that allows them to attach an Apple ID to their actual user account, not just to iCloud and the App Store. It only takes a moment to set, and it provides for an incredibly simple password recovery option at the login and boot menus, allowing you to regain access to your user account and files just by entering the associated Apple ID.

Going further, Macs with multiple user accounts can assign different Apple ID’s to each unique user account, or you can just choose to tie a single Apple ID to the Mac. If you do choose to attach a lone Apple ID to the Mac this way, be sure to associate it with an administrator (admin) account in Mac OS X, that way you will be able to regain full system access in the event it’s needed because the primary password has been lost.

How to Associate Apple ID with Mac User Account in macOS (modern macOS versions)

Modern MacOS versions typically request an Apple ID during the initial setup, or during a major software update (upgrading from a much earlier release to macOS Big Sur). If you haven’t set it up that way, here’s how to do it:

  1. From the  Apple menu choose System Preferences
  2. Go to “Apple ID” (or iCloud, depending on version)
  3. Login to your Apple ID here

Simply by logging into the Apple ID on the Mac user account, you associate the two and you can then use that Apple ID to unlock the Mac user account, should you forget the computer password.

Set Up Apple ID and Associate it with User Accounts in Mac OS X (Older Mac OS X Versions)

For Mac OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, Sierra, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion, you can associate an Apple ID with a user account by doing the following:

  1. Open System Preferences, found easily in the  Apple menu
  2. Choose the “Users & Groups” panel and select your primary user account from the list
  3. Look under the user name to “Apple ID” and click the “Set” button
  4. Set an Apple ID and attach it to a Mac account

  5. Enter your Apple ID (the same login information as used for iTunes, App Store, and iCloud), then click “OK” to confirm it – users without Apple ID’s can create one here too*
  6. Setting an Apple ID to a Mac User account

  7. Check the box for “Allow user to reset password using Apple ID” – this is optional, but highly recommended

Allow Apple ID password resets

* If you somehow don’t have an Apple ID yet, you can set one up easily by clicking the “Create Apple ID” button. Apple ID’s are now tied to just about everything, from iCloud backups and access, to App Store downloads and purchases, to iTunes and the iBookstore, so if you somehow haven’t created one yet, do that now.

That optional Apple ID-based password reset feature is extremely helpful and as we mentioned, highly recommended, because it allows you to be able to reset a lost password directly from the login screen just by verifying the Apple ID details:

Reset a Password in Mac OS X with the Apple ID

This is extraordinarily quick and quite simple for Mac users running modern Mac OS X versions, and it prevents the need of the more technical approaches to resetting forgotten passwords (though those will continue to work as well).

This works in basically all versions of macOS that can support linking an Apple ID, including macOS Big Sur, High Sierra, Sierra, Catalina, Mojave, El Capitan, Yosemite, Mac OS X Mavericks, OS X Mountain Lion, and OS X Lion, and later releases too, the only requirement is having a modern version of Mac OS X with the support for this feature, and an active Apple ID. You will obviously need internet access to use this feature as well, since it requires the communication between Apple and the Mac to set the ID and also to be able to access the recovery benefits it offers.


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

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