What to do if you forget your Mac’s Password

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Try Signing in as Another User

If you have more than one user account on your Mac, try signing in with a different one. Accounts with admin permissions can reset the password for other accounts (but Standard accounts can’t).

Just head to System Settings > Users & Groups, click the “i” alongside the account for which you’d like to change the password, then click the “Reset” button and type in a new password.

The setting that allows you to reset the password of another user.
Reset Your Password Using Your Apple ID

If those options don’t work, you can still gain access to your Mac by using either your Apple ID or the Recovery Key for your Apple ID account. The options you’ll see on your Mac’s lock screen might differ depending on how you set up your account but as long as you know either your Apple ID details or Recovery Key, you will be able to regain access to your Mac.

From the lock screen, click the question mark icon, or type in your password incorrectly a few times if you don’t see one. In most cases, you can now click “Reset it using your Apple ID”

The password reset options on the macOS lock screen.

A dialog box will open, asking for your Apple ID email and password. Enter those and click “Reset Password.”

The reset password box on the macOS lock screen.

Next, you’ll see a warning that you’ll lose access to your keychain if you change the password, since the password for the keychain will remain the same. This is a problem, but if you ever remember the old password, you will be able to gain access to the keychain again. Click “OK” to continue.

The warning before resetting your password on macOS.

Whichever option you choose from the lock screen, your Mac will restart and launch the Recovery Assistant, showing you the Reset Password screen. Enter your Apple ID details once again, followed by your verification details if you’ve got two-factor authentication set up on your account (which you really should have).

Now, select the user for which you want to reset the password. Finally, enter a new password, and make sure to add a hint so that you don’t forget it next time.

The screen to reset the password on macOS.

Reset the Password From macOS Recovery

As long as you’ve got your Apple ID tied to your Mac account, and can remember the login details, the steps above will get you back up and running again. But if you have any problems along the way, there are a few other things you can try.

You can try resetting the password using your Mac’s special Recovery mode, which you can launch by holding down the power button when you start an Apple Silicon Mac—or holding Command+R on an Intel Mac—then following the onscreen instructions.

The Options screen when you launch Recovery mode on macOS.

From macOS Recovery, you can access a hidden password reset tool and use it to change any user account’s password on the Mac. On modern Macs, you’ll still need your Apple ID, but you might be able to change the password without it on older machines.

To launch the tool, open the Terminal by clicking Utilities > Terminal in the menu bar.

Launch the Terminal through Recovery.

At the Terminal prompt, type:

resetpassword

Then hit Enter to launch the Reset Password tool. On encrypted Macs, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID details, but on older, non-encrypted Macs you’ll simply be able to reset your password.

The Recovery Assistant password reset screen.

Erase Your Mac

If you still can’t get into your Mac, your last resort is to erase it and start again from scratch. This will reinstall macOS and wipe all your data, so isn’t something you should consider unless you have no other option. To do it, boot into Recovery mode again. Go to Recovery Assistant > Erase Mac, then read the warning before clicking “Erase Mac” again, followed by “Next.”

The Erase Mac settings in macOS Recovery.

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