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How to Reset or Recover Forgotten Password on Mac

Finding an old MacBook and turning it on only to find out you no longer remember your Mac password is never a pleasant experience. Each login attempt can be frustrating, especially if you can’t make a successful one. The good news is that Apple already knows that this type of situation can happen once in a while. As a result, the tech giant develops MacOS software that already has built-in integrations on how to reset Mac password.

With almost everything going digital, there are dozens of passwords we need to remember. Mac passwords are one of the essential passwords you need to remember, especially if you’re using a MacBook for work. It’s a nightmare when you can’t remember your Mac password.

However, it’s not the end of the world. There are different ways and tools you can use to reset Mac passwords. Also, the method you can try to reset your Mac password will depend on whether an Apple ID is linked to your Mac during the initial setup or not. You don’t have to worry if you didn’t since there is another alternative you can perform to reset a Mac password. Here is how to begin the process of powering on and using your Mac without inconveniences.

 

How to Find My Mac Password?

mac password
© Photo by Apple Support

Unfortunately, there is no method for you to find your Mac password unless you’ve written it somewhere or saved on another device. However, you’re making yourself a victim of hackers if you’ve written or saved your passwords somewhere. You can’t also find a Mac password since your MacBook is secured and locked in the first place.

Is it possible to find through the Terminal of your Mac? The short answer is still no. In simple terms, you can’t find your Mac password unless you know or remember it beforehand. Thanks to Apple’s famous security practices, finding your Mac password in the device itself isn’t possible.

 

How to Reset Your Mac Password?

reset Mac password
© Photo by hafakot on Adobe Stock

Use Password Hints First Before You Reset Mac Password

Before anything else, you can try the password hint. If you can’t remember your Mac password, password hints are one of the best ways to help you remember your password. Little did you know; you can remember it out of the blue just by seeing the hint. Hopefully, when you initially set up your login or admin account’s password, you also generated a password hint. If not, we encourage you to set up a password hint every time you create a new password.

 

To verify if the password hint for your Mac is available, here are the steps:

verify password with hint
© Photo by Chris on chriswrites.com
  1. On the upper leftmost part of your Mac, click the Apple logo.
  2. Click System Preferences…
  3. Click Users & Groups.
  4. Click the padlock logo on the lower left part of the dialog box.
  5. Once a dialog box pops up, you can either input an incorrect password 3x, or you can press Enter 3x.

If the dialog box doesn’t display a hint, it’s either the password hint isn’t activated on your Mac or you didn’t create one. If it’s the former, there’s nothing you can do. That said, you can try as much as you can to remember your Mac password to activate the hint feature. Obviously, it’s not feasible at the moment. However, we recommend activating the password hint feature for future reference once you regain access to your Mac.

 

To create a password hint for your Mac, here are the steps:

create password hint
© Photo by appletoolbox.com
  1. On the upper leftmost part of your Mac, click the Apple logo.
  2. Click System Preferences…
  3. Click Users & Groups
  4. Click the “+” icon near the padlock icon
  5. If you want to create an admin account, select Administrator from the New Account dropdown menu.
  6. Input the necessary information such as Full Name, Password, and Verify.
  7. In the Password Hint field, input your related hint that you can easily remember in case you forgot your Mac password.
  8. Click Create User.

 

Use Apple ID to Reset Mac Password

If you have signed in your Apple ID on your Mac, you can use it to reset the Mac password from the sign-in menu. As you’ve noticed, inputting an incorrect password thrice will display the password hint. Aside from the password hint, the option to reset a Mac password with an Apple ID is also shown. If your screen displays the popup, it means you can reset your Mac password using the associated Apple ID.

 

To reset the Mac password using Apple ID, follow these steps:

Use Apple ID To Reset Mac Password
© Photo by hellotech.com
  1. Once you’ve already entered an incorrect password three times, input your Apple ID and password.
  2. Click Reset Password.
  3. A dialog will notify you that resetting a Mac password will generate a new Keychain Access file. Click OK.
  4. Input a new password and don’t forget to create a password hint.
  5. Click Reset Password.
  6. Restart your Mac and log in to your new Mac with your new password.

 

If you have regained access to your Mac, it’s highly recommended to add another alternative to resetting your Mac password in case it’s needed. Using your Apple ID is enabled by default. However, you can perform the following steps if you want to ensure that this feature is activated:

 

  1. On the upper leftmost part of your Mac, click the Apple logo.
  2. Click System Preferences…
  3. Click Users & Groups
  4. Click the padlock logo on the lower left part of the dialog
  5. Input your Mac password
  6. Tick the “Allow user to reset password using Apple ID” checkbox.

 

Use Another Administrator Account to Reset Mac Password

Apple’s operating system allows multiple admin users on the same MacBook. This is great news if you have another admin account configured in your Mac! It means you can reset your Mac password by logging in to another admin account. However, you still can’t sign in to your Mac account if you can’t remember your Keychain Access password and can’t set up a new password.

Given that, you should access your Keychain Access so you can unlock all the features that need a Mac password. Unless you can recall your Keychain password, you need to set up a new Mac password with an administrator account. If the other account you signed in isn’t considered as an admin account, you can only proceed with the Recovery Mode method, which will be tackled in the next section.

 

To reset the Mac password using another admin account, perform the following:

reset the Mac password using admin account
© Photo by Apple Support
  1. If you have the other admin account’s password, you can sign in using its credentials. You can also ask for the owner’s admin account password.
  2. Once logged in, click the Apple logo.
  3. Click System Preferences…
  4. Click Users & Groups.
  5. Click the padlock logo on the lower left part of the dialog box.
  6. Input the other admin account’s password. Click Unlock.
  7. Under the Other Users section, click the Mac account that you want to reset the password.
  8. Click Reset Password beside the admin account’s name.
  9. In the new dialog box, input New Password, Verify, and Password Hint.
  10. Click Change Password.
  11. Log out of the current user account.
  12. Sign in to your Mac account with the new password that was created.

 

Use the Target Disk Mode to Reset Mac Password

If you don’t have any luck with resetting your Mac password, try the Target Disk Mode as your last option for this section. Through Target Disk Mode, you can access the hard disk drive on your Mac with another MacBook. It’s an excellent method to recover any data you have from your current Mac. 

 

To try your luck with the Target Disk Mode option, you can follow these steps:

 

  1. Turn off your MacBook.
  2. Using a Thunderbolt or FireWire cable, connect your Mac to another Mac. If you have a USB cable, the Target Disk Mode won’t work.
  3. Turn on your MacBook and press the T on your keyboard while booting is in progress.
  4. Once the hard disk drive appears, you can now recover any data on your Mac.

 

How to Recover Your Mac Password?

 

Use Recovery Mode to Recover Mac Password

The advantage of using a Mac is that Apple has built-in tools that you can use to recover Mac passwords. If you can’t remember your Mac password no matter how hard you’ve tried, you can opt for the Recovery Mode option.

 

If you want to try Apple’s Recovery Mode feature, here are the following steps:

Use Recovery Mode To Recover Mac Password
© Photo by pcrisk
  1. Turn off your MacBook.
  2. Long press the Command + R keys while pressing the Power button. Through this key combination, your Mac will boot into Recovery Mode.
  3. Once the progress bar appears, release the buttons and wait for the progress to complete.
  4. Click Disk Utility and select Continue.
  5. Click Utilities > Terminal.
  6. Input “resetpassword” and select Return.

    Note: The “resetpassword” should not be capitalized and have no spaces between them.

  7. Select the main hard disk drive where you configured your Mac account. In most cases, it’s usually the main disk.
  8. Choose the Mac account.
  9. Input a new password and re-type the new password.
  10. Create a new password hint associated with the new password.
  11. Click Save.
  12. If a dialog pops up, click OK.
  13. Click Apple and select Shut Down…

 

Use Filevault to Recover Mac Password

Given the scenario above, you’ll probably wonder about how safe Recovery Mode actually is. If you can reset via the Recovery Mode, then anyone can just reset any Mac they’ll have. It’s a huge concern, especially when it comes to privacy and security. The good news is that Apple developed FileVault as an extra layer of security for your Mac. Not only FileVault will encrypt your Mac and its data, but it will also reset your Mac password when needed.

Before anything else, the FileVault itself should be activated so you can retrieve the Recovery Key. Otherwise, you can proceed with other alternatives.

 

Let’s assume you have written or saved the Recovery Key from FileVault, here are the steps to reset your Mac password:

  1. Prepare the Recovery Key for reference.
  2. Restart your MacBook.
  3. Once the sign-in page is displayed, click the Mac account with a forgotten password.
  4. Input incorrect password for three attempts. 
  5. Hover or access the password hint and locate “Reset It Using Your Recovery Key.”
  6. Input your Recovery Key.
  7. Type in your new password and a new password hint.
  8. Click Reset Password.

 

Now that you’ve known the importance of the FileVault feature, you can set it up just in case you’ll need it in the future. To activate the FileVault, here are the steps:

turn on filevault
© Photo by Chris on chriswrites.com
  1. On the upper leftmost part of your Mac, click the Apple logo.
  2. Click System Preferences…
  3. Click Security & Privacy.
  4. Click the padlock logo on the lower left part of the dialog box.
  5. Input the other admin account’s password. Click Unlock.
  6. Click Turn On FileVault…
  7. Tick the “Create a recovery key and do not use my iCloud account” option.
  8. Click Continue.
  9. Once a dialog box displays your recovery key, write or save the recovery key somewhere safe, and you can easily remember.
  10. Click Continue.
  11. Restart your MacBook to apply the changes.

 

Conclusion

Any technique we described is an effective method of regaining access to your Mac or if you forgot your Mac password. Now that you already know the different steps on how to reset your Mac password, you might be bothered that someone can also access the Recovery Mode for resetting your Mac account in the same way you did. With an extra layer of security integration, you can prevent unauthorized access on your Mac.

The excellent method to protect your Mac is to enable FileVault encryption. Through FileVault encryption, your MacBook’s content is encrypted. The Password Reset Utility will also not be accessible until you unlock it with Disk Utility. When you configure FileVault, you obtain a Recovery Key and an account password. If you lose both data, your Mac won’t accessible forever.

Are there other methods you can recommend on how to reset your Mac password? We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comments below!

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