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Reset user account password in OSX

·313 words·2 mins
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James Pettigrove
James Pettigrove
Cloud Engineer with a focus on Microsoft Azure
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Although I hope most SysAdmin’s don’t forget their passwords, it sometimes can happen. Maybe you happened upon a 2nd hand machine and don’t have any recovery media to reset the operating system to a clean state. These are situations that require you to reset a user account’s password.

Most of my posts surround Microsoft operating systems but I’m going to switch it up today and show you how to reset a user account password on Apple’s OSX.

OSX 10.4 Tiger

  1. With the machine off, power it on and hold the Command + S keys. This will engage the OSX’s Single User Mode.

  2. At the prompt, type sh /etc/rc and hit the Enter key.

  3. Type passwd username replacing username with your chosen user account.

4. Enter and confirm a replacement password of your choosing at the prompt.

  1. Now we can reset the machine and use the freshly reset password by typing reboot and hitting Enter.

OSX 10.5 Leopard and above

  1. With the machine off, power it on and hold the Command + S keys. This will engage the OSX’s Single User Mode.

  2. At the prompt, type mount -uw and hit the Enter key.

  3. Next, type launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ and hit Enter to load the User Accounts from the local system.

  4. Now type ls /Users to list all the User Accounts that were loaded in the previous step.

  5. Finally we can reset the password on a chosen account by entering dscl . -passwd /Users/username password and replace username and password with your chosen user account to reset and a password of your choice.

  6. Reset your system via the reboot command and your all (re)set.

Too easy. Now your forgetful mind or a second hand system won’t be a roadblock to access to your OSX machine.

Fellow OSX users, let me know in the comments if the above no longer works in Mavericks, cheers!


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