How to Reset Your Mac Password If You’re Locked Out of Your Mac?

Use Strong Passwords

Apple’s new operating system prioritizes information protection and comes with enhanced security measures, with the password being the core of macOS security. Forgetting the password can be disastrous, as it locks you out of your computer. This can prevent you from installing apps, making system changes, accessing files, and even deleting key files on your Mac. So, what can you do if you forget your Mac password?

Locked Out of Your Mac? Don’t Panic! Here’s What to Do

So you forgot your Mac’s password? Sometimes, it happens without your wish – for instance, if you have been using your Apple Watch or iPhone to unlock your Mac, or if you bought your computer secondhand and you have no clue about the old password. And in any case, you can still regain access to your Mac.

Thankfully, macOS comes with built-in tools to help you reset your password in Mac when you are in a situation like this. In this post, we will share tips on how to reset your password in Mac.

Some of these tips require preventive measures to be taken beforehand, while others may only apply if you have linked your Apple ID to your admin account. Regardless of your situation, just know that there is a way to get back into your Mac.

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But before we look into that, you need to tidy up your computer. Forgotten passwords are usually a consequence of using a cluttered Mac. For this reason, you need to clean up your Mac to allow the new password to log you into a tidy and organized system. Use a robust tool like Mac repair app to organize your digital folders, remove junk on your Mac, and improve your memory.

Easy Steps to Reset Your Mac User Account Password

To regain access to your Mac, use any of the following methods to reset your password:

Method #1: Get a Password Hint

Before attempting any password recovery trick, check if the password hint can ignite your memory. In this case, the password hint is a phrase relating to your password that you entered when you first set it up.

To trigger the hint, make three incorrect attempts:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Select Users & Groups.
  3. Tap on the Lock icon in the bottom-left corner.
  4. Now, press the Return key three times.
  5. After the third attempt, your password hint will appear below the Password field. Hopefully, it will create a eureka moment, making you recall the forgotten password.

Note that the hint may not show up. The reason is that your computer wasn’t set up to display password hints in the Login Options. But this issue should not bother you too much since there are other ways to reset your password.

Method #2: Use Another Admin Account to Reset the Password

If you have more than one admin account set up on your Mac – for instance, if you share your Mac with another person – you can use one of them to reset your password. Here is how to do it:

  1. Log into your other admin account.
  2. Now, open System Preferences and select Users & Groups.
  3. Click on the Lock icon to change the settings.
  4. Enter your username and password once again.
  5. In the left sidebar, choose the admin account you are locked out of, and then tap on the Reset Password button.
  6. Enter your new password twice. You should also create a hint because it will come in handy if you ever forget the password.
  7. Click Change password.
  8. That’s it. You can now log out of your other admin account and then log back into your Mac using the newly created password.

Method #3: Use Recovery Mode to Reset the Password

If you haven’t enabled the FileVault feature, there is even a more straightforward way to reset your password on your Mac: use Recovery Mode. Here is the process:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press the Power button to turn it on back, then press the Command + R shortcut.
  3. Hold down the keys until the Apple logo appears. The process may take a while, but you will see a progress bar informing you that your device is booting into Recovery Mode.
  4. With your Mac in Recovery Mode, head to the menu bar and click Utilities > Terminal.
  5. Now, run the following command to launch the Reset Password Utility: resetpassword.
  6. After that, close the Terminal window to access the Reset Password tool.
  7. Choose the account you want to reset from the list of user accounts. To reset the password for your account, you need to create a new password for all users.
  8. Now, enter your new password plus a password hint.
  9. Click Save > OK.
  10. Restart your Mac and log in using the new password.

Method #4: Use Your Apple ID

After entering a wrong password a couple of times, macOS usually gives you an option to reset your password using your Apple ID. Alternatively, you can also tap on the question mark icon beside the password field to trigger the same process.

After keying in your Apple ID and password, you will get an alert letting you know that a new keychain that has your password will be generated. When the alert pops up, click OK and follow the rest of the prompts to create a new password. While your old keychain will remain locked, it will still be saved on your computer. So, you can unlock it if you ever remember the old password.

Note that this trick will only work if you have linked your user account with your Apple ID. Also, you shouldn’t have FileVault enabled.

Method #5: Use Target Disk Mode

If you can’t use any of the above password-resetting methods, your other alternative is to use Target Disk Mode. It will recover some data from your problematic Mac. In other words, you can access the hard disk of your Mac from another Mac.

To activate Target Disk Mode, follow the steps below:

  1. Shut down your computer.
  2. Now, connect the Mac to another Mac via a Thunderbolt cable. Sadly, this trick doesn’t work with USB.
  3. Turn on your Mac and hold down the T key as it boots.
  4. With your Mac in Target Disk Mode, you should be able to access it as a hard drive on your other Mac.

Last-Ditch Effort: Reinstall macOS

If you have FileVault enabled, and you can’t regain access to your account, your only remaining option is to reinstall macOS because you will not have access to any file on your computer. Hopefully, you have backup copies of these files because you cannot access without your password.

Reduce Incidences of Lost Password

Before you get locked out of your Mac, set up an Apple ID. This way, you have a backup way of getting into your Mac if you ever forget your account password. If possible, create more than one user account on your Mac. Also, change your user account password to something unique, but easy to remember.

On a related note, you can also manage all your passwords using the built-in password manager – Keychain Access. This way, you don’t have to remember them every time you log into your Mac. But, like in the case with passwords, you may also fail to access your Keychain due to various reasons. If that is the case, consult this guide to resolve the issue.

Summing Up

In this era of digital information, data protection is no longer a luxury. Some Mac users may prefer working without the need to log in, but this situation may put you in trouble, especially when you are required to maintain strict confidentiality. This security measure is inevitable for organizations these days, but not so good if you forgot the password for Mac.

Of course, it is always a good idea to remember your passwords and PIN codes. But if you find yourself locked out of your Mac, you don’t have to fret because you now know how to get back in. You can use any of the above methods to regain access to your Mac. But if all else fails, consider reporting the incident to Apple.

Do you have other worries about resetting or changing your Mac’s password? Share them in the comments.

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