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Have you forgotten your Mac password? Here’s how to get back in



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Comparison of the new M1 Macs with their Intel counterparts at CNET Labs’ Brooklyn outpost.

And Ackerman / CNET

That sinking feeling when you open the lid on you MacBook, enter your password to login and it will be refused. So you re-enter it just to get it declined. Again. It’s a frustrating experience, but don’t panic. Apple Know that a forgotten password situation is a personal hell that many of us face, and that’s why Apple’s MacOS software includes tools for this exact situation.

There are a few different methods you can use, and the path you take to unlock your Mac without a password may depend on them whether or not you’ve linked your Apple ID to your user account on your Mac during installation, or if you have one of the new M1 MacsIf you haven’t, that’s okay, there is another option to reset your account password. Here’s how to get started to take back control of your Mac computer.

Use your Apple ID to reset your password

Ideally, you associated your Apple ID with your user account on your Mac during the initial setup, allowing you to reset your user password with just a few clicks.

After you enter the wrong user password three times, you will be asked if you want to restart your computer to view the password recovery options. You will then be asked to sign in with your Apple ID, select the user account for which you want to reset the password, and then enter a new password.

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Getting locked out of your Mac is annoying. But don’t get too frustrated.

Óscar Gutiérrez / CNET

Use a different administrator account

If you share your Mac with friends or family members and they have forgotten their password, chances are you can reset it for them. The key here is that you need access to an administrator account.

Usually, the person who first set up the Mac will have an administrator account by default, but you can check this by logging into your account and System preferences Users and groups and viewing the list of user accounts on your Mac. Just below the username is the account type – if it says “Admin”, you can reset user passwords.

To do that, the same Users and groups screen, click the lock and enter your admin name and password when prompted. Next, select the user for which you need to reset the password, then click the button labeled reset Password and follow the instructions.

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Don’t forget to write down the new passwords you need to create for other users of the same Mac.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Recovery mode is your next best bet

You need to boot your Mac in recovery mode to access the password reset tool. I’ve found that the easiest way to do that is to shut down your Mac.

The trick to getting into recovery mode depends on the kind of Mac you have. For Macs with an Intel processor, hold down the Command and R keys on your keyboard and then press the power button. Contain Command + R until you see a progress bar appear under the Apple logo. You can also get into recovery mode by restarting your Mac and trying to time the keyboard combination of Command + R, but in my experience, starting with your Mac turned off is the most reliable method.

For the recently released Macbook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini that use Apple’s M1 processor, you need to turn off the computer and then press and hold the power button until you see an option button. Click on it and select Recovery.We have one more go through the recovery mode thoroughly on the M1 Macs.)

With your Mac now in recovery mode, click Tools in the menu bar followed by Terminal. A new window will appear, waiting for you to enter a command. Type “reset Password“as one word, without the quotes, and then press Return.

Close the Terminal window, where you will find the Password Reset tool. Follow the prompts, including signing in with your Apple ID and then selecting the user account for which you need to change the password.

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If you are using FileVault, you have two options to reset your user account password.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If FileVault is enabled on your Mac, you’re fine

FileVault is an optional MacOS feature that encrypts your Mac’s hard drive and all data on it. You can enable it during the initial setup or at a later time in System Preferences.

If you have FileVault turned on, you have two additional options to reset your user password. You can wait for up to a minute at the user’s login screen until a prompt appears asking you to press the power button to reboot the Mac in recovery mode. Follow the instructions to restart your computer and you should see a Reset Password window appear.

The other option is to use the recovery key you should have written down when you turned on FileVault. Let’s face it, most of us don’t, but if you did, you can enter the recovery key when prompted after three failed login attempts. Make sure to use capital letters and to enter the hyphens – they are required.

Each method we’ve outlined is an effective way to regain access to your account, or if your child has forgotten their password. Of course, if you can use this to access your Mac, someone else who can access your computer can too. You can prevent that, you just have to be more proactive during installation with storing recovery keys and remembering your password Here’s how to lock your Mac


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