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.
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.
WARNING! THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT.
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.
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.