How Do I Reset Your Mac Admin Password using Recovery Mode? [Solved]

reset admin password mac terminal

Forgetting or losing the admin password to your Mac can be a significant source of stress and inconvenience, effectively locking you out of your device and its full range of functionalities. Fortunately, there’s a reliable method to regain access: resetting the admin password using Mac Terminal. This approach is viable across various macOS versions, from older editions like High Sierra to the latest macOS releases. This article aims to guide you through the process, ensuring you can recover your admin access smoothly and efficiently.

Why do a Password Reset?

Admin access on a Mac is crucial for performing a wide range of tasks, from installing software to changing system settings. Losing this access can severely limit your ability to use your device effectively. Common reasons for needing a password reset include:

  • Forgetting the password due to infrequent use or complex character combinations.
  • Device handover where the previous user did not provide the admin password.
  • Security breaches that necessitate a password change for safety reasons.

Regaining admin access is essential for maintaining the usability and security of your Mac, highlighting the importance of knowing how to reset your password efficiently.

Preparing for Password Reset

Before attempting to reset your admin password, it’s crucial to take certain preparatory steps to ensure the process goes smoothly and securely.

Backup Considerations

  • Data Backup: Ensure your data is backed up to avoid any loss during the reset process. Use Time Machine or a cloud storage service for a comprehensive backup.
  • Keychain Access: Understand that resetting your password might affect access to your Keychain. Consider the implications and prepare accordingly.

Overview of Methods for Password Reset
Two primary methods can be employed to reset your Mac’s admin password:

  • Using Apple ID: For users who have linked their Apple ID with their Mac user account, resetting the password can be straightforward through Apple’s recovery services.
  • Terminal via Recovery Mode: This article focuses on how to reset admin password using Mac Terminal, a more technical but highly effective method, especially when the Apple ID option is not available or preferable.
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Understanding these methods and preparing accordingly will help ensure a successful password reset, allowing you to regain control of your Mac with minimal stress.

Step-by-Step Guide: Resetting Admin Password via Terminal

Resetting your Mac’s admin password via Terminal requires accessing Recovery Mode, a special part of the Mac’s boot-up process that allows you to perform various system recovery tasks. Follow these steps carefully to reset your password successfully.

1. Initiating Recovery Mode

The process to enter Recovery Mode differs slightly between Intel-based Macs and those with Apple’s ARM chips.

  • For Intel Macs: Restart your Mac and immediately hold down the Command + R keys until the Apple logo or a spinning globe appears. Release the keys when you see the macOS Utilities window.
  • For ARM Macs: Turn off your Mac. Press and hold the power button until you see the startup options window, which includes a gear icon labeled Options. Click it, then click Continue.

2. Accessing Terminal in Recovery Mode

Once in Recovery Mode, you’ll need to access Terminal to reset your password.

3. Using the resetpassword Command

With Terminal open, you’re ready to use the command that initiates the password reset process.

  • Type resetpassword in the Terminal window and press Return. This command opens the Reset Password window, bypassing the need for your old password.
  • If prompted, select the volume containing the user account (usually named “Macintosh HD” unless you’ve renamed it).

4. Setting a New Password

In the Reset Password window, you’ll choose a new password for your account.

  • Select your user account from the list if it’s not already selected.
  • Enter a new password in the provided fields. Choose something secure that you’ll remember; consider using a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Provide a password hint if desired. This hint can help remind you of your password if you forget it again but avoid making it too obvious for security reasons.

5. Rebooting and Logging In

After setting your new password, you’re almost done.

  • Click Next or Save (depending on your macOS version) to apply the new password.
  • Close the Reset Password and Terminal windows.
  • Restart your Mac by choosing Restart from the Apple menu or using the power button.
  • At the login screen, enter your new password to access your account.
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Post-Reset Considerations

After successfully resetting your Mac’s admin password, there are a couple of important steps you should take to ensure everything continues to run smoothly.

Dealing with Keychain Access

Your Mac’s Keychain stores various passwords and credentials. After a password reset, you may encounter prompts asking for the old password to unlock the Keychain.

  • Resetting Default Keychain: To avoid access issues, consider resetting your default Keychain via Keychain Access. This action will remove stored passwords, requiring you to re-enter them, but it ensures seamless access moving forward.

Ensuring System Security Post-Reset

Maintaining your Mac’s security after a password reset is crucial.

  • Update Security Questions: If applicable, update your Apple ID security questions and ensure your contact details are current.
  • Review Account Permissions: Check for any unknown or unnecessary user accounts and adjust permissions as needed.
  • Regular Password Updates: Consider changing your passwords regularly to enhance security.

Alternative Methods for Password Reset

If Terminal is not your preferred method or if you’re looking for other options, consider these alternatives.

Using Apple ID for Password Reset

For users who have linked their Apple ID with their Mac, resetting the password can be straightforward.

  • Conditions: Your Apple ID must be linked to your user account, and you should have internet access.
  • Steps: Choose the option to reset your password using your Apple ID on the login screen, follow the prompts to authenticate, and set a new password.

Boot Drive or Single-User Mode

These advanced methods offer alternatives for users comfortable with more technical approaches.

  • Boot Drive: Create a bootable installer drive, boot from it, and use Terminal from the installer to reset the password.
  • Single-User Mode: Boot into Single-User Mode (Command+S on startup for Intel Macs) and use command-line tools to reset the password.


How do I reset my Mac password without a recovery key?

Use Terminal via Recovery Mode or your Apple ID, depending on your setup and preferences.

Can I reset my Mac password using Apple ID?

Yes, if your Apple ID is linked to your Mac user account and you have internet access.

What happens to my data after resetting the Mac’s password?

Your data remains intact, but you may need to reset your Keychain Access, affecting saved passwords and credentials.

Is it possible to reset the password on older macOS versions?

Yes, the Terminal method via Recovery Mode and other techniques are applicable across various macOS versions.

How can I avoid forgetting my password in the future?

Consider using a password manager, setting a memorable but secure password, or regularly updating your password while keeping a written record in a secure location.

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