Forgot the password needed to sign in to your Mac user account? That’s a problem, no doubt about it. Even worse, unless it’s resolved, it can lead to data loss and being forced to start from scratch. But because that is the last resort, after you’ve given up, we’ll give our best so it doesn’t come to it. You’ll have to pitch in too, mostly by remembering the precautions you’ve taken, the other accounts that exist on Mac, and having the willingness to follow instructions. If you’re up for that task, we’ll be happy to demonstrate how to recover Mac password.
1. Get a password hint
Are you logged in but afraid to sign out because you can’t recall the password? Do this to make password hint appear:
- Click on System Preferences (cogwheel icon).
- Go to Users & Groups, then click the Lock icon in the bottom left corner.
- You’ll be asked for the password now. Either enter the wrong password 3 times or press Return 3 times in a row.
- A password hint will now appear below the password text field if it was set up.
2. Recover Mac password via Apple ID
Is your Mac account associated with an Apple ID and do you have access to it? If the answer is no, recover Apple ID first. If it’s yes, this is what’s needed for Mac password recovery using Apple ID:
- On the Mac login screen, enter the password wrong 3 times in a row.
- Click the option to reset your password.
- If you get an option that says: Reset it using your Apple ID, click on it.
- You’re asked to enter Apple ID credentials. You might also need to enter a verification code sent to one of your devices.
- Do so, and you’ll get a Reset password option. Enter the new password twice, add a password hint, and you can now sign in.
3. Reset Mac password via recovery key
Did you get an option to Restart and show password options under step 3 above, and then Reset it using your recovery key after the restart? It means that FileVault, Mac’s drive encryption feature, is enabled. This also means that you chose to create a recovery key instead of choosing to use Apple ID to unlock your hard drive. For that reason, you only have to enter that ur recovery key, enter the new password twice (and, preferably, a password hint) and click on the Reset Password button.
4. Recover Mac password using Keychain
If you used Mac’s Keychain utility to keep your passwords, you might get an option to under step 3 in method 2. Here’s what to do:
- When asked to create a new Keychain, click on OK. Your Mac will restart.
- Select an Administrator account from the list of users. Click on Forgot all passwords?
- You should now see a window named Reset Password, with an option to Deactivate Mac.
- Click on Deactivate Mac, then enter administrator name and password when asked. Click on Deactivate to confirm.
- Now you can enter a new password for the account and click Next.
- Tip. If you have multiple accounts, click on the Set Password button next to each account, and enter new passwords separately.
- When you finish the procedure, click on Restart and log in afterward.
5. Recovering Mac password via Recovery Mode
Can’t remember any of the user accounts required for the method above? No problem, you can use Mac Recovery Mode to your benefit:
- Start with your Mac turned off.
- Boot it up and do this:
- Macs with Intel CPU. Press and hold Command (⌘) + R on your keyboard until you see the Apple logo and the loading bar below.
- M1 Macs. Simply keep the Power button pressed until you get a list of options. Select Recovery.
- Now that you’re in Recovery Mode, click on Utilities in the menu bar above.
- Select Terminal from the drop-down list.
- Enter this command before pressing Enter/Return:
- Close the Terminal window and start using the Reset Password tool.
- Select the volume the account is on. This is your main hard drive, typically.
- If there are multiple accounts, click on Select the User Account.
- Enter the new password twice, then a password hint, and click on Save.
- You’ll get a warning that the Keychain wasn’t changed. Click on OK.
- Click on the Apple icon in the top left corner, then select Shut Down.
- Log in with your new password after Mac starts up.
6. Resetting Mac password via Terminal in single-user mode
If nothing worked so far, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Both of these methods require you to boot your Mac into single-user mode, which opens Terminal. To do that, power on your Mac, and while it’s booting, press and hold Command (⌘) + S. Now that you know this, here are 2 ways to achieve Mac password restoration via Terminal:
1. Use LaunchDaemon
Do this to recover Mac password through LaunchDaemon utility:
- Type “mount -uw /” without quotes and press Return/Enter.
- Now, type the following before pressing Enter or Return:
launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.opendirectoryd.plist
- Now, type “passwd username” without quotes. Replace the ‘username’ with the actual username of the Mac user account. Press Enter.
- Enter a new password, then retype the new password, pressing Return in-between.
- Finally, type “reboot” without quotes and press Return again.
- Sign in to your account for Mac.
2. Reset Setup Assistant
Follow these steps to retrieve Mac password by resetting Setup Assistant:
- Repeat step 1.
- Type the following before pressing Return/Enter:
- Repeat step 5.
- When it restarts, follow a typical Mac setup. Decline any data transfer.
- Setup a new Administrator account, and sign in with it.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 from method 1.
- When prompted, enter the password for the Administrator account you created.
- Now, in the left sidebar under Other Users, select the desired Mac user account.
- Click on the Reset Password… button.
- Enter a new password two times, set up a password hint, and click on Change Password.
- Sign out and you can now sign back in with a new password.
- Optional. Delete the account you just created.