How to Reset Admin Password on Mac with Terminal

We have so many passwords that forgetting one happens to all of us, especially if you use fingerprint logins instead of typing in the password every day. At one time or another, we have all forgotten our passwords and need to reset them.

Resetting your admin password using Terminal can be quite easy as long as your Mac is not linked to iCloud and you do not have a firmware password or you still know your firmware password if you have one.

My name is Eric and I have been working with various computer systems for over 4 decades but I am still learning new systems all the time and Macs are my newest endeavor. I just learned how to reset my password using Mac Terminal and I want to share my findings with you.

Continue reading if you would like to see what I have learned about resetting the admin password on a Mac.

How to Reset Admin Password via Terminal (When Your Mac Is Not Linked to iCloud)

Step 1: Shut down your Mac

Click on the Apple symbol in the upper left corner of the screen and select Shut Down.

Step 2: Start your Mac in Recovery Mode

For machines with Apple Silicon (or Apple chipset), press the power button and hold it down until you see the message Loading Startup Options

For Intel-based machines hold down the Command and R keys until you see the same message.

To determine which chipset you have, click on the Apple logo and select “About this Mac”. Then click on Overview. You will see the chipset shown on the screen as you can see below. 

Step 3: Select Options on the Recovery screen

Once the recovery screen loads, select the Options icon. 

Step 4: Click on the Forgot all passwords link

After this, you will see a screen asking you to select a user that you know the password for. Click on the Forgot all passwords? Link.

Step 5: Click on Exit to Recovery

If your Mac’s iCloud is not enabled you will be taken to a screen that says your Mac is not activation locked and that you can proceed without authentication.

Click on Exit to Recovery.

This will take you back to the main macOS Recovery screen which has the menu you need to select and open the Terminal application.

Step 6: Open Mac Terminal

Once in Recovery mode, you will need to open the Terminal application. You can do this from the Recovery menu at the top of the screen. Click on Utilities and then select Terminal.

Step 7: Type the password reset command

After the Terminal app has opened, type the command to reset your password as shown below.


This will launch the recovery assistant. 

Step 8: Deactivate Mac

The recovery assistant will have a message prompting you to deactivate your Mac. Click on Deactivate Mac and then you will be asked to confirm this action. 

Click on the option to continue with deactivation and then click Next.

Step 8: Enter your new password

The next screen will ask you to enter a new password and then confirm it. You may also enter a password hint if you would like to do so.

Once you have entered the information, click on Next to continue.

Step 9: Restart your Mac and log in with the new password

You will be prompted to restart your Mac. If not, click on the Apple symbol in the upper left corner and select restart.

You may see a message giving you a choice to upgrade to the latest version of your macOS, continue with your current macOS, or Boot from another drive. Just select the option to continue with your current macOS for now. You can do the update at a later time.

Once your Mac restarts and you log in, you should be good to go with your admin password reset.

What If The Password Reset via Terminal Method Isn’t Working

There are instances in which the above method will not work. The most common reason is that you have iCloud turned on for your Mac. If this is the case, you can first turn iCloud off and then try this method again.

If you are unable to turn iCloud off, or if the above method is not working for any other reason, you will need to reset the password using your Apple ID. 

If you enter the password incorrectly a couple of times at your login screen, it will prompt you to reset your password. You can click on the link and it will walk you through the process.

It will also provide you with the password hint if you have supplied one and this may possibly remind you of what the password is. In that case, you may no longer have a need to reset the password.


There are always lots of questions when it comes to admin passwords on a Mac. Below are a few of the most common.

How Can I See My Current Admin Password on Mac?

There is no way to see the current admin password. You would need to know the admin password in the first place to be able to see something at that level of security.

Even if you log in to the machine with another admin account, you are still unable to see the other user’s passwords. The only option is to reset them.

Can Someone Bypass Admin Password on My Mac?

The admin password cannot be bypassed, but if your machine is not secured with a firmware password, FileVault, or connected to iCloud, someone can potentially get into Recovery mode and reset the password or run Apple Setup and create a new admin user.

Can Anyone Who Gets My Mac Reset Admin Password and Access My Files?

Yes, they can if your computer is not secured as stated in the previous question. You can use a firmware password, FileVault, or keep your Mac connected to iCloud to protect it. This will require others to have a password when trying to get into Recovery mode.

Just make sure that you don’t forget these passwords– especially a firmware password. If you forget your firmware password you may need to take a trip to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store to get it reset.

Closing Thoughts

Forgetting your admin password for your Mac can be extremely frustrating since you need it for so many important things. I hope that the information I have provided above can help you to reset your Mac admin password if needed.

Do you have any other methods for resetting passwords? Let me know I would love to hear what others have learned.

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  • Bill

    Hi Eric,
    How can I tell if my MBAir 2022 has a firmware password or a regular admin password?
    I was assigned a ‘user’ account and need admin rights to install a needed application.
    Could attempting this reset cause me to brick the computer?
    Thank you

    • Eric

      Hi Bill,
      If your MacBook has a firmware password, it will ask you for the password when you attempt to enter Recovery Mode. If there is no password, you do not have FileVault enabled, and you do not have your iCloud activated you should be able to complete the steps shown above. When you get to the part where you are setting a new password, you should be setting the password of the admin account on your computer. You can then login with that admin account and change your other account to an admin account if you want to do so.

      If this does not work for you there is another method you can try in which you trick your Mac into thinking it is doing a new set up and it will create a new user with Admin privileges. Once you have the new user with admin privileges you can go in and give your other account Admin privileges. This method works on many older MacBooks but I can’t guarantee that it will work on yours as I have seen many have issues trying to do it on newer MacBooks. If you want to take a look at this method you can see it at: . I understand your concerns about causing more issues with your computer, so if you are uncomfortable trying them or they don’t work for you, you may need to contact Apple Support to find out how you can get Admin privileges. You may need to reset the password of the original account that had Admin privs and set up the machine.Good luck! I hope that one of these things can provide a solution for you.

  • Cerasela

    I cannot access my Mac . Changed the password it worked once, but this time I am unable to access my computer.
    Tried restoring it by accessing the terminal ( command + R ) but instead of it I am prompted with the following message board : “you shut down your computer because of problem”.
    As we speak unfortunately my computer is not in the wifi/ Bluetooth / Ethernet mode . My computer has been hacked . And occasionally I open my iCloud when I have to access files.
    I understand there might be a possibility to open / access my Mac – somehow -.
    I would appreciate your advice.
    Thank you

    • Eric

      Hi Cerasela,

      I am very sorry to hear that this is happening with your Mac. If your computer has been hacked then you definitely want to get in and change the password so that the hacker can no longer get into your machine.

      Have you been able to try the steps described above? If you have and it is not working, this may be due to you having iCloud turned on or FileVault.

      In this case, you may need to reset your password using your AppleID as described above. Just enter your password a couple of times (even if it is incorrect) and after a few times, it will prompt you with a link to reset your password.

      When you click on the link it will step you through the process. If that does not work you might also check out this method of creating another admin user:

      This can sometimes work if you have an older Mac that does not have FileVault turned on, but I would definitely try resetting your password using your AppleID first.

      I hope that one of the solutions will work for you.

      • Bill

        Hi Eric,

        Not sure if my other reply was deleted…

        Is there a way to tell if an admin password is linked to the firmware?
        My Macbook account currently does not have admin access and I am not able to find the admin who created the original admin account/pw. Can I reset everything so I can establish my own admin account and password? Thank you.

        *Forgot to mention that this is not a stolen laptop, etc.

        • Eric

          Hi Bill,
          See my reply above. I hope this can help you with your issue.