How to Create a New User on Mac Without Admin Password

If you have a Mac and either forgot or don’t know the admin user account password, it is not only frustrating but can prevent you from doing many things with your computer. Without admin access, you cannot change many settings and features and you are not able to install apps.

One of the easiest ways to solve this problem is to create a new user on the system and this can be done without the need for the admin password. The new user will have admin rights and you can then reset the password of your original admin user or just continue using the new one.

My name is Eric and I have been around computers for many years, going all the way back to the late 1970s. Solving this type of problem is not only a challenge but can also be fun for computer enthusiasts like me and I also enjoy passing the information on to others when I can.

If this is a problem that you are facing, keep reading below and I will show you a way to create a new admin user without knowing the old admin user’s password.

Do I Really Need the Admin Password?

It could be that you have been using your Mac with a non-administrator account, which is all fine until you need to do something like changing some configuration settings or download and install a new app. To do this you will need admin rights.

It’s also possible that you have received or bought a used Mac and the previous user did not give you the username and password so you are not even able to login to the machine if it is password protected.

One way to solve this problem would be to do a factory reset, but this is not a great solution if you want to preserve the current data on the machine. A factory reset will wipe out all the user data on the computer and just like it says reset it back to its original out-of-the-box settings.

Thankfully there is a way around this. By creating a new user, which by default will have administrative rights, we can then use that account to log in and perform whatever actions are necessary, including resetting your old user’s password or giving another user admin rights.

Creating a New User

Let’s get started on creating a new user. You won’t need anything special to do this, just your Mac and follow the steps below. Soon you will have a new user on the system that can perform any function that is necessary for your computer.

Note: The steps below are specific to newer Macs running macOS Big Sur. For older systems, you may need to modify the steps but the idea is the same.

1. Shut Down Your Mac

The first thing you will need to do is shut down your Mac. Make sure that you completely power it down.

2. Get into Terminal Mode

For older Macs, you might use single-user mode (hold down Command and S keys on startup). Different chipsets have different ways for booting into recovery mode, but the main point here is to get into a terminal window so that you can remove the .AppleSetupDone file. 

Use the following steps for newer Macs running macOS Big Sur.

Step 1: With your Mac powered down, hold down the power button. You will see a message saying Continue holding for startup options.

Step 2: This will bring your Mac up in recovery mode. Click on the Options icon and hit Continue.

Step 3: Ignore the selections that come up in the middle of the screen. Go to the menu at the top and select Utilities >Terminal.

You will now have a terminal window open to start the next section.

3. Find and Remove .AppleSetupDone File

On older systems, this file was called .applesetupdone (no capital letters). So if you are on an older system you may need to search for that. For newer Macs, the file is called .AppleSetupDone.

We will be using our Mac terminal to find this file and then remove it. Just follow the steps below in the terminal window that you started up in the previous section.

Step 1: Find the file by typing in the command below and hit the return key.

find / -name .AppleSetupDone 2>/dev/null

Step 2: The command above will provide the results of where the file is located. It is possible that you will see more than one result. These are actually the same file, just a different path to get to it. Select the shortest or easiest one. Preferably one with no spaces in it. Select it with your cursor, then go to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and select Copy.

Step 3: You will now start the remove command by typing the following below. DO NOT hit return yet.


Step 4: Hit the spacebar and then paste the text that you copied in step 2 by going to the Edit menu at the top and selecting Paste. You should now have a command similar to the one listed below.

rm /Volumes/Data/private/var/db/.AppleSetupComplete

Now hit the return key.

Most likely your setup file will be located in the same place as the one listed above, so you may be able to just use the same command I have listed here. If you run the command and see no error messages, then this portion of the process is complete. 

This will trick your computer into thinking that the initial user setup has not been done. When you reboot, it will begin the same process that you see when you or whoever set it up for the first time and created your original login. 

This may seem a little scary because you might be concerned that you are going to lose all of your data that is on the machine. 

No need to worry. We are not doing a factory reset here, only creating a new user, so any data that was already on the machine will remain untouched as long as you use a new username in the next section.

4. Rebooting and Configuring

Step 1: Reboot your Mac by typing reboot in the terminal window and then hit return. Your system will now restart.

Step 2: When your system reboots you will see the Welcome to Mac screen. This is where you will enter all the information for the new account. You will enter your location, Apple ID, etc. Then you will be asked to create a new account.


Do not use your old username. If you do, your old data under this user will be overwritten and lost. Make sure that you create a new unique username for the new account or use the default one that is filled in automatically.

Follow the steps to set up the new account and be sure to remember or write down the new password you create for the new account.

Step 3: After completing the setup, your Mac will reboot and you can log in with the new user account you just created. From there you should be able to do whatever you need to, including resetting the password of your original admin user if you had one.

How to Reset Another User’s Password

Now that you are able to log in, you may want to reset the password of the original admin user that you may have had. This isn’t too difficult to do, just follow the steps below.

Step 1: Open your System Preferences by clicking on the Apple symbol and then selecting System Preferences from the menu.

Step 2: Select Users & Groups.

Step 3: On the Users & Groups screen click on the little lock symbol in the bottom left corner. You will need to enter the password for the current user you are logged in as.

Step 4: Select the user for whom you wish to change the password and then click on the Reset Password button.

Step 5: Enter the new password in the password screen. You will need to enter it into the New Password and Verify fields. You can also enter a password hint if you would like, but it is not required.

Step 6: Click on the Change Password button.

The user’s password will now be reset.

Final Words

Creating a new user without having an admin password can be a fairly easy process as long as you can get your Mac to somehow boot into a mode that gives you terminal access. 

Once you have a terminal window opened, all you need to do is find and remove the .AppleSetupDone file, reboot, and your Mac will think that you are setting up a new user with admin access for the first time.

I hope this article has been able to help you. As always please let me know if you have any questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Danesy


    I have tried this process as you have outlined complete with using single quotes and received no error message. I rebooted and was not prompted to create a new user. I am trying this on an early 2009 15” MacBook Pro model A1286. Can you think of anything that could be preventing the Welcome to Mac screen from starting? Thank you for your help!

    • Eric

      Hi Danesy,
      I’m sorry to hear this is not working for you. My first thought would be that for some reason the file is not getting deleted. After you remove the file with the rm command, try running the find command again.

      find / -name .AppleSetupDone 2>/dev/null

      This will tell you if the file is actually getting removed. If there are no results you will know that it was removed. If it still shows up, it is not getting removed for some reason. If it is still showing up we will need to figure out a way to remove it.

      If the file is getting removed, it must be getting regenerated somehow or you have a newer macOS that this no longer works on. What macOS are you running?

  • Ian

    Would this process alert the admin that you were creating a new user?

    • Eric

      Hi Ian, this is a great question. As far as I know, it will not alert the admin that you are creating a new user. When I tried this on my system, it did not create any alerts or messages in my admin account that it was created. Unless your system has some other external software monitoring the creation of new accounts I do not think that it will. Thank you for the question!

  • John

    What happens if you hit enter after ‘rm’ befog pasting

    • Eric

      Hi John,
      In most cases, it will not be a problem. You will just get a message showing you how to use the command. You should see something like what I show below.

      $ rm
      usage: rm [-f | -i] [-dIPRrvWx] file …
      unlink [–] file

      This will not remove anything or take any actions. It just sees that you did not supply any parameters to the command so it is letting you know what options and parameters you need to add to make the command work.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Eric,

    I’m getting stuck on step 4, when I type “rm “ and paste the location it’s returning with “file not found” not sure how I progress from here

    • Eric

      Hi Stephanie,
      Sorry to hear you are having this issue. It’s possible that there is an extra character or missing character in the command and that could be causing the issue. I am assuming that when you ran the find command, it gave you a result to use with the rm command. I’m wondering if an extra space or something got added in during the cut and paste. I would need to see the command you are running to be able to tell. If you want you can paste the command you are running here and I can take a look and see if I can see if there are any extra characters or anything missing.


  • Sana

    I am having MAC OSX version 10.7.5! Is this really helpful?

    • Eric

      Hi Sana,
      This process can be helpful and does work well mostly on older operating systems as long as you don’t have FireVault activated. FireVault can prevent you from getting into recovery mode if you do not have the password but if it is not enabled, this process should work.

  • Caina

    I got a new macbookair 2022 M2 and this did not work 🙁
    Any updates on this tutorial?

    • Eric

      Hi Caina,
      I’m sorry that this is not working for you. I have heard that on some newer systems, this does not work. I was able to get mine to work on my 2020 M1 but I have not tried it on any newer systems. In what part of the steps are you having issues? I know that if you have FileVault enabled or iCloud enabled it will ask you for a password when you try to go into Recovery mode.

  • Eve

    Hi! I have quite an old mac (Software 10.13.6) and was wondering if you knew a way that this would work on my mac?

    • Eric

      Hi Eve, I don’t have an older system that I can test this on or figure it out, but the concept should be the same it’s just your steps may be slightly different. The main idea is to get your Mac into recovery mode and start up a Terminal session. Once you are in there if you can find a .AppleSetupDone file or as I mentioned above in older Macs the file was called .applesetupdone (all lowercase letters), you just need to remove it and then restart your system. Hopefully, then it will allow you to do a new setup.

      • Corey

        Hey Eric I did this and got a reply saying the computer is read only? Any workarounds for this?

        • Eric

          Hi Corey,
          I’m sorry to hear you are having this issue. One thing that you can try is to run the command with sudo in front of it. As shown below.

          sudo rm -f /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone

          The problem with this is that it may ask you for your password and if you don’t know the password (which is probably why you are trying to do this) then it does not help much. Another thing you can try is to change the permissions of the file with the following command and then try removing it.

          chmod 777 /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone
          rm -f /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone

          I hope that one of these solutions can help you out.

        • Mike

          Please mine keep saying permission denied

          • Sebastian

            Mike the reason it is not working is it might be that you have FireVault on

  • Lerumo

    OMW this article helped me so much. I had been struggling with this for about 5 hours till I came across this method. Thank you thank you thank you

    • Eric

      You’re welcome, so glad that this was able to help you!

  • CH

    I’m so grateful to find this page!!! This tip definitely solved my problem! Thank you for posting this online!

    • Eric

      Great to hear! I’m glad this worked for you.

  • Oringinal


    I followed the tutorial well and when I rebooted it asked for my language, accessibility and Wi-Fi. But after that it just showed me to the screen you would see when you shut down and re-open a macbook. There was no option to make a new account and I’ve noticed no other difference. Why didn’t it work?

    Please help me and thanks for the tutorial.

    • Jerry Romero

      Sorry to hear this is not working. What kind of MacBook are you using? and what macOS is it running?

      I have done this on a few different machines and have never seen it do that. If you haven’t already, try running through the steps again and see if you still get the same results. Let me know what happens. If it doesn’t work I will see what else I can find out.

      • Originalm

        Hello Jerry,

        My mac is a MacBook air (M1 2020) and version 11.5.2. I redid the steps and got the same results and no errors appeared. My terminal looked exactly like yours and I made sure to follow all procedures properly.

        Thank you for assisting me.

        • Eric

          Sorry to hear this is not working for you. It’s hard for me to tell what is going on, but I would start by getting back into recovery mode, opening a terminal session, and then checking to see if the .AppleSetupDone file got removed. If for some reason it was not removed, this would be the problem. You can try removing it again and see what happens. If that is still not working, I have heard that there are some macOS versions that may have closed this loophole that allows you to do this so it may no longer be possible on some systems. Let me know if you have any success.

  • Emmanuel

    I tried following the instructions, after the first step, it found the file “/Volumes/Macintosh HD/private/var/db/.AppleSetupDone”

    Then I copied it, went to the next step by typing “rm” space then I pasted it and press return button, but this was the responde “rm: /Volumes/Macintosh: No such file or directory” “rm: HD/private/var/db/.AppleSetupDone : No such file or directory”

    Please I need your help

    • Jerry Romero

      Hi Emmanuel,

      It looks like the problem is due to a space character in the pathname. This is very common due to the use of spaces in directory and file names. Try running the command with the path enclosed in single quotes (the ‘ character) like I have shown below.

      rm '/Volumes/Macintosh HD/private/var/db/.AppleSetupDone'

      Without the single quote mark, it thinks you are trying to remove two items /Volumes/Macintosh and HD/private/var/db/.AppleSetupDone. Another way is to use a backslash character in front of the space as shown below.

      rm /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/private/var/db/.AppleSetupDone

      This tells the command line to include the space as part of the text you are running the command on. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

      • SOO LAP KI

        Hi Jerry,
        I am using an iMac 11.2 purchased around 2012, on Mac OS X ver 10.6.8 .
        I went into Terminal through Applications, Utilities because I could not launch the Startup options via Commend S.
        I find the file /private/ver/db/ .AppleSetupDone

        when I typed rm /private/ver/db/ .AppleSetupDone, it rerturned following : override rm—— root/wheel for /private/ver/db/ .AppleSetupDone ?

        I typed Y ( for yes ), it returned :
        rm: /private/ver/db/ .AppleSetupDone permission denied

        What has i done wrongly ? Thanks

        • Jerry Romero

          Hi SOO LAP KI,

          One of the first things I would check is to make sure that there is no space in your path as it looks like there is one in /private/ver/db/ .AppleSetupDone, between the / and .AppleSetupDone. Try running the command and make sure that there is no space as shown below.

          rm /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone

          If you still get the same results, you may be facing a permission issue which can sometimes prevent you from removing certain files. If so you can try the rm command with the -f parameter which can force it to remove the file. This does not always work but it is worth a try.

          rm -f /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone

          If that doesn’t work you can try using sudo which can give you root permissions to remove it in some cases.

          sudo rm -f /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone

          If that still fails you may also try first changing the permissions of the file and then removing it.

          sudo chmod 777 /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone
          rm -f /private/ver/db/.AppleSetupDone

          These are a few things that are worth trying but I am unable to test this to ensure that it works since I am unable to replicate the situation on my machine. I hope that one of these works for you. Let me know what happens.