How to Change Your Mac Username

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At one point you might entertain the thought of changing the username on your Mac. It could be because there’s a misspelling, your name changed after you married, or you are using a secondhand Mac that still has the original owner’s name.

For whatever reason, you should learn how to change your Mac username and the Home directory name linked to it.

A Guide to Changing Your Mac Username

There are several places on your Mac where your name might appear, including the account name (short name) and Home folder. This name will largely be based on the full name you or the administrator provided when the account was first set up.

There are certain occasions, however, when you might consider changing this name, including the following:

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  • You have a new name after getting married or divorced
  • You want to change a cute, amusing name to something more formal
  • Your name is quite long and you want to save on time and energy when prompted to type it
  • There is a misspelling from when IT set up your computer
  • Your initial plus surname spell something inappropriate or offensive
  • You’ve inherited a Mac and now prefer that it carries your name, not the original owner’s
  • You have two Macs and you want the same username on both

Since Mac OS X Leopard was launched back in 2007, Apple simplified the steps to alter the short name and Home folder name from within the Systems Preferences location.

There are a few limitations, though. The short name and Home folder name should match all the time. In addition, you need to log in to a different admin account to facilitate the change, so that account should be created first.

To create a new administrator account:

  1. Open Systems Preferences, and then Users & Groups.
  2. Click the lock icon. Next, enter your password.
  3. Click on the +
  4. Change New Account to Administrator.

No matter your reason, the good news is changing your Mac username can be quite easy to do – granted that you have administrator rights. In this case, follow these steps:

  1. Open Systems Preferences > Users & Groups.
  2. Click unlock. Proceed to enter your password.
  3. Either control-click or right-click the user that you seek to rename.
  4. Select Advanced.
  5. In the full name field, change the name.
  6. Restart your machine.

This process changes only the username, not your account name or Home directory name. A strong warning will state that changing this setting can damage your account and hinder you from logging in.

The crucial next step is to modify your Home folder name and, in effect, your account name since it’s linked to the former. This takes more work than before, but here are the steps:

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the menu. Log out of the account you intent to change the name of.
  2. Log in with a different admin account. Remember: you need to be logged out of a specific account in order to rename it. In this step, you might have to create a new admin account – we outlined the steps above.
  3. Proceed to Users on the startup drive by opening Finder and clicking Go > Computer > Macintosh HD.
  4. Open the Users folder, where you will find the Home directory for the account being renamed.
  5. Click on the folder and then proceed to rename it. Don’t forget the old and new names because you will need them again.
  6. When prompted, enter the admin account’s password.

Now that you have altered your Home folder name, it’s time to change your username – the two need to be the same, as we previously reminded, or you will encounter problems. Here are the steps:

  1. Click on System Preferences > Users & Groups.
  2. Click unlock. Afterwards, enter the password for the admin account you logged in with.
  3. Control-click or right-click the user you want renamed from the list of users.
  4. Choose Advanced Options.
  5. In the Account Name field, enter the new name you gave the Home folder for that user.
  6. Change the Home directory field in order to match the new name that the Home folder has.
  7. Click OK, and close System Preferences.
  8. Restart your computer.
  9. Log on to the renamed account. If there are problems here, double-check and make sure that the account and Home directory names are the same.

Final Notes

A stark reminder before changing your account name and Home folder name: back up your important data, since it’s a relatively risky procedure and it could translate to data loss with an error or misstep on your part. Here are the steps to follow, according to Apple support.

As always, keep your Mac clean and optimized at all times for good performance. Clear valuable space, clean out junk, and follow recommended energy-saving tweaks from Mac repair app for a smooth computer experience.

Have you had any previous experience (or horror story) changing your Mac username? Tell us about it in the comments!

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