How to Deal With the macOS Big Sur Password Bug

Mac
Login and Password

macOS 11 Big Sur introduced a lot of improvements to the Mac’s operating system, prompting the majority of Mac users to upgrade immediately as soon as it was released. But like all other new macOS versions, Big Sur comes with its own set of bugs and performance troubles.

One of the common issues you might encounter involves your admin password. According to those who encountered this error, Big Sur does not recognize saved password on Macs. Even though the password is correct and it was originally recognised by the previous version of macOS, for some reason, Big Sur seems to have forgotten it and does not accept whatever password the user types in.

Password Not Recognized After Upgrading to Big Sur

If you’ve just updated but you cannot unlock Mac after updating to Big Sur, then you are not alone. A lot of Mac users have also complained about this macOS Big Sur password bug that prevents them from accessing their system settings or making changes to their preferences. Although the admin account password entered is correct, it does not seem to work. In some cases, the users also get the following error message: No users available for authorization.

In other scenarios, the computer freezes on the password authentication screen and the spinning wheel keeps on spinning in a loop.

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This error has been around during the beta testing process and it looks like the macOS Big Sur Password bug has found its way to the public release. According to the release notes Apple provided to fix this error, users just need to reset the password and everything will be okay. Unfortunately, this does not work for most users and even the new password gets rejected every time.

What Causes the macOS Big Sur Password Bug?

It seems like the update to macOS Big Sur has caused the affected Macs to forget which accounts have administrator privileges. What this means is that macOS won’t accept your password, even though it is correct, when you try to change System Preferences, install new apps, or perform other admin-level actions.

After typing in your password, you will notice that the password box shakes as if you entered the wrong password. The same thing happens no matter how you carefully type in your password or even if you reset it.

If this error has been causing you much worry ever since the upgrade, then this guide should be able to save you from the stress. We’ll discuss several steps you can take if you cannot unlock Mac after updating to Big Sur or if your password is not being recognized.

What To Do If Big Sur Does Not Recognize Saved Password

If you’re experiencing the macOS Big Sur password bug, the first thing you need to do is restart your Mac because it might be a temporary problem. Make sure you shut down your computer completely before turning it on again. Next, type in your password to see if macOS will accept it now.

Make sure to clean up your Mac as well using a Mac cleaner to prevent other issues from triggering this bug. If nothing seems to work, proceed to the steps below and try them one by one until you resolve the error.

Step 1. Update macOS.

If you’re sure that you typed in your password correctly, the only reason your Mac won’t accept it is due to a bug, which is relatively common with new software updates. Apple usually releases a patch update after a couple of weeks to fix the most problematic bugs. To check if Apple has already released a patch update that addresses this error, try to update your operating system to the latest version. This allows you to benefit from the latest bug fixes and hopefully resolve any password issues you are experiencing in macOS Big Sur.

To update your Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the menu bar.
  2. Click on System Preferences and select Software Update.
  3. Your Mac automatically checks for new updates.
  4. Download and install any updates that are available.

Step 2. Reset SMC.

The system management controller or SMC is used by Intel-based Mac computers and is responsible for tasks related to passwords, power supply, battery, fans, and other Mac features.

A lot of affected users found that resetting the SMC was effective in resolving the macOS Big Sur password bug, so it should be one of the solutions you should try. You don’t have to worry because you won’t lose any data when you reset the SMC, and it only takes a minute to perform. The method to reset the SMC differs depending on the type of Mac you are using.

If your Mac has a T2 security chip, here’s how to reset the SMC:

  1. Shut down your Mac by going to Apple menu > Shut Down. Wait for your Mac to complete turning off.
  2. Press and hold the Power button for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Your Mac should remain turned off. If it powered back on, shut it down again from the Apple menu.
  4. On your MacBook:
    • Press and hold the Left Control + Left Option + Right Shift buttons.
    • Keep holding these buttons for seven seconds, then press and hold the Power button.
    • Keep holding all buttons for another seven seconds, then release them altogether.
    • Press the Power button to reboot your Mac.
  5. On your iMac:
    • Disconnect the power cable for at least 15 seconds.
    • Reconnect the power cable and wait for five seconds.
    • Press the Power button to reboot your Mac.

How to reset the SMC if your Mac has no T2 security chip:

  1. Shut down your Mac by going to Apple menu > Shut Down. Wait for your Mac to complete turning off.
  2. On a MacBook with a removable battery:
    • Remove the battery from your MacBook.
    • Press and hold the Power button for at least five seconds.
    • Release the power button and reconnect the battery.
    • Press the Power button again to reboot your MacBook.
  3. On a MacBook without a removable battery:
    • Press and hold the Left Shift + Left Control + Left Option buttons.
    • Keep holding all buttons, then press and hold the Power button.
    • After 10 seconds, release all the keys at the same time.
    • Press the Power button again to reboot your MacBook.
  4. On an iMac:
    • Unplug the power cable for at least 15 seconds.
    • Reconnect the power cable and wait for five seconds.
    • Press the Power button again to reboot your Mac.

Step 3. Reset the Admin Account.

If macOS Big Sur keeps on rejecting passwords because it forgets which users are administrators, then you can use a command via Terminal to create a new administrator account.

You can then use this new account to assign administrator privileges to your original admin account. After getting back your admin access, you can then delete the new account you created.

To use this Terminal command, you need to restart your Mac into Recovery mode first by following the steps below.

  1. Open Finder and remember the name of your startup drive in the Locations section of the sidebar. This should be Macintosh HD by default.
  2. Shut down your Mac by going to Apple menu > Shut Down. Wait for your Mac to complete turning off.
  3. Hold down Command + R while pressing the Power button to boot your Mac in Recovery mode.
  4. Once the macOS Utility window appears, click Utilities > Terminal from the menu bar.
  5. Type the following Terminal command: rm “/Volumes/Macintosh HD/var/db/.applesetupdone.
  6. Replace Macintosh HD with the name of your startup drive, then press Enter.
  7. Follow the on-screen instructions to create a new user account.
  8. Sign into the new account, then go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups.
  9. Click the lock icon and use your new admin password to make changes.
  10. Choose your original account and tick off the Allow user to administer this computer option.
  11. Now sign back in using your original account and delete the new account from Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups.

You should now be able to use your original admin account to make changes to macOS Big Sur.

Summary

The macOS Big Sur password bug has affected a significant number of Mac users, preventing them from making changes to the settings and performing admin-level tasks. If you’re faced with this issue, don’t panic. The steps above should help you recover your account’s admin privileges and resolve any password problems you are experiencing with Big Sur.

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2 thoughts on “How to Deal With the macOS Big Sur Password Bug
  1. dennis
    dennis
    February 24, 2021, 9:46 AM

    Hi there I have a different issue with the login/password screen on Big Sur.
    It appears when booting, and then I type – but it’s not ready to accept the text yet, so I have to type again after a second or so. Very frustrating as you would expect to be able to type your password as soon as the login screen appears (like we always have in the past)! This never happened on previous OSX’s – and happens on both an old macbook pro and a new M1 macbook pro.
    Any ideas? Seems like the most obvious thing to fix as surely everyone is experiencing it?

  2. Patti
    Patti
    March 31, 2021, 9:11 PM

    SUCESS! I used Step 2 and reset the SMC as per your instructions and was able to get back into my message and email accounts in Outlook. Much appreciated!

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