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How To Reset or Recover A Lost Login Password On A MacBook or OS X

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/26/2009

People have a lot of passwords they have to remember; so it's only natural that once in a while you will forget one. If you should happen to ever forget your OS X login account password, you can either try to recover it or else reset it completely.

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    Reset Any Password Except Administer Account

    Mac OS X 10.2 through 10.2.8

    For any account passwords with the exception of the administrator account, you can reset them from within OS X. First, login with the administrator account and navigate to system preferences from the apple menu. Next, choose the accounts icon. Be sure that the lock in the lower left hand corner is unlocked. If it is not, click it to unlock. You may be required to type in your admin password.

    Now, select the username whose password that you want to change. Click the Reset Password button (Mac OS X 10.4) or the Change Password button (Mac OS X 10.5). It should now ask you to type in and verify your new password. Click the reset password button and click OK if a box pops up verifying change to your keychain.

    Mac OS X 10.1.5 or earlier

    For any account passwords with the exception of the administrator account, you can reset them from within OS X. First, login with the administrator account and navigate to system preferences from the apple menu. Next, choose users from the view menu. Be sure that the lock in the lower left hand corner is unlocked. If it is not, click it to unlock. Now, select the username whose password that you want to change. Click edit user. Enter a new password in both the password and verify password fields and click save.

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    Reset The Password To The Administrator Account

    If you have lost the password to the original administrator account, than you will need an OS X disk to reset the password. More than likely it will be "install disk 1" that should have came with your computer when you purchased it.

    Insert the disk into the drive and restart the computer. As soon as you hear the chime when your computer is booting up, hold down the "C" key. If the "C" key does not boot from the disk, than try holding down the "option" key instead.

    Once you have booted from disk, the OS X installer window should be on screen. Go ahead and click continue in the first box that pops up. Next, look at the toolbar located at the very top of the screen. You will see numerous options. Choose either installer menu, or the apple menu (depending on which OS disk version you are using). Under one of the top menus, you should find an option to reset your password. After you have selected reset password, it will ask you to select your hard drive. Select the hard drive and select your administer account name from the dropdown menu. Enter your new password, verify and click reset.