The need to reset or recover your admin password for your account can happen for a variety of reasons - we were once in this position when we messed around with settings on our Mac and then forgot the admin login details, it happens...
Whatever your reasons for changing the admin password on your Mac, this article has you covered with four reset or recovery methods. Note the recovery method can be different depending on which version of MacOS you are using.
We are specifically looking at how to recover your admin password here. If you are just looking for advice because you have forgotten the password you need to log onto your Mac - which may not be the admin password if your Mac is managed by an administrator - then read this: How to recover a forgotten Mac password. We also have advice if you have forgotten your Apple ID password.
Recover your admin password from FileVault
This method requires you to have FileVault enabled. If you don’t have it on, then skip this method. FileVault is not on by default and must be manually enabled.
1. Retrieve the recovery key you copied down when you turned on FileVault disk encryption. If you cannot find your recovery key but stored it with Apple, contact Apple Support.
2. Restart your Mac.
3. On the login screen click on the account to unlock and reset the login password.
4. In the password field, click the Help button (?). Then click the bottom line “reset it using your Recovery Key,” then enter your recovery key.
Recent admin password via Recovery mode
If the above method doesn’t work for you, then you could try resetting your admin password via the recovery partition.
- Boot to the recovery partition on your original drive by holding down Command-R during the startup process. Read our in-depth article about booting a Mac in Recovery mode here.
- When you see the start up screen, you can let go of the keys. (Note: If you see a login window or your own desktop and icons, it's possible that you didn't hold Command-R early enough. Restart and try again.)
- When the machine boots, you will the OS X Utilities screen. Click on Utilities in the Apple menu and select Terminal.
- At the Terminal prompt, type 'resetpassword' then hit enter.
- This will launch the reset utility, which allows you to select a drive, a user, then a new password and password hint for your admin user.
- After saving, go to the Apple Menu and click Restart.
Reset your admin password using Single-user mode.
All else failing, you can boot your computer into single-user mode to reset your admin password. Keep in mind this requires some command-line trickery and will probably require you to write down or take a picture of the following. Note: Enter the commands exactly as shown, the commands are case & space sensitive.
- Shutdown, then start up your Mac and hold down Command-S at boot to enter single-user mode.
- Type ‘mount -uw /’ (no quotes) and press Enter.
- Type ‘launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.opendirectoryd.plist’ (no quotes) and hit Enter.
- Type ‘passwd username’ (no quotes) replacing ‘username’ with the name of your admin account.
- Enter your new password, then hit enter. At the next prompt, enter your password again to confirm and hit enter.
- Type ‘reboot’ (no quotes) then hit Enter to restart your Mac.
Read our advice for choosing a good password here.