How To Find the Administrator Password on a Mac

One of the most frequently forgotten passwords for casual Mac users is the Administrator Password. As it isn’t required for the majority of base features, it’s not uncommon to lose track of it.

How To Find the Administrator Password on a Mac

In this article, we’ll help you find the administrator password on a Mac and provide ways to both recover or reset it, if necessary.

Finding the Admin Password

Unlike most computer accounts, Mac doesn’t have a default admin password. The admin name and password are entered during the initial setup. If you didn’t do this on your own, or it was done for you, it’s best to ask the person who did. Most of the time, users already have admin accounts without realizing it. To confirm if the account you’re using has admin privileges do the following:

  1. Click on System Privileges on your dock, or click on the Apple menu and choose System Preferences from the dropdown list.
  2. Find and click on the Users & Groups icon.
  3. Find your current username from the list on the left. If the word Admin is under your username, it’s an Administrator account. Any user that has Admin under their name is an Administrator account.
  4. As an admin, both your login name and password can be entered when you’re required to use an Admin password.

Recovering Lost Passwords

There are a few ways to get a password back, depending on which password you lost and whether you have third-party password managers.

Using Apple ID to Reset Your Password

In case your default Mac login is an Admin account and you’ve forgotten your login password, you can recover it by using Apple ID. This can be done by following these steps:

  1. On the Mac login page, entering a password incorrectly three times will open a reset prompt. If you cannot correctly identify your password, proceed to step 2.
  2. A window should pop up prompting you to restart and show password reset options. Click on the prompt and wait for the computer to restart.
  3. A Reset Password window should appear asking for your Apple ID. Enter your Apple ID email address and password. If you’ve forgotten your Apple ID too, click on the Forgot Apple ID and Password link below and this will send you to the Apple Password Recovery page.
  4. Click on Next.
  5. If two-step verification is enabled, you’ll be prompted to enter the security code. Once entered, click on Verify.
  6. If the computer has more than one user, choose which account password you want to reset, then click on Next.
  7. You’ll be prompted to enter a new password, verify the new password, then create a password hint.
  8. Click on Next.
  9. Once done, click on Restart.
  10. Enter your new password.

Use Another Admin Account to Reset Locked Admin Accounts

If you know the password to another administrator account you can log in and reset other locked admin accounts. To do this, you need to:

  1. Use the admin name and password of an account you have access to.
  2. Click on the Apple menu then select System Preferences. Alternatively, you can also access System Preferences from your dock.
  3. Click on Users & Groups.
  4. Click on the padlock icon.
  5. Enter your current admin name and password.
  6. Find the name of the admin account that you wish to reset.
  7. Click on the reset password button.
  8. You’ll be prompted to enter a new password, verify the new password, and then enter a password hint. Once done click on Change Password.
  9. Click on the Apple Icon.
  10. Choose Logout from the menu.
  11. Log onto the account you just reset. Both your admin accounts should now be accessible.

Reset Passwords Using FileVault

FileVault is a handy tool that helps prevent unauthorized access on your Mac. It also has the additional benefit of helping you reset forgotten passwords via the Reset Password Assistant. If FileVault is on, you can use the assistant by doing the following:

  1. On the login page wait until you see a message that says you can use the Mac power button to restart in Recovery Mode.
  2. Once the message shows up hold down the power button until your computer turns off. Press the power button again to turn it on.
  3. The Reset Password window should appear with instructions on how to change the current password. Follow the steps as given by the Reset Password Assistant.
  4. Once you’re done, click on Restart.
  5. Login using your new password.

Use a File Recovery Key

FileVault has the option of setting up a File Recovery Key that you can enter instead of a password to reset an account immediately. This is done by following these steps:

  1. On the login screen, enter an incorrect password three times until you see a message that indicates that you can use the Recovery Key.
  2. Click on the Play icon beside the message.
  3. The password text box will turn into the Recovery Key text box, enter your Recovery Key. Remember to enter upper case letters and include hyphens during entry.
  4. Follow the instructions shown, then click on Reset Password when you’re done.
  5. Restart your computer and log in using your new password.

Contact Apple Support

If none of the above methods work for you, the next step is to contact Apple Support and see if they can reset your passwords remotely. They will usually be able to unlock your accounts without resorting to a full system reinstallation.

Admin Password Tips

When using a Mac, it’s best to keep a few things in mind when it comes to the Administrator password so you’re never locked out of your computer:

  • Passwords are case-sensitive. Make sure that Caps Lock and Num Lock are not activated when entering it.
  • If the password entry has a question mark icon, then you might have set a password hint. See if this helps you remember your password.
  • Try logging in with the password box left blank. Some users never bother assigning a password but forget about this afterward. If your admin account does have a blank password, fix this immediately. Unsecured accounts leave your computer vulnerable.
  • To prevent getting locked out of your Mac by forgotten admin passwords, it’s best to set up a secondary administrator account. Using this, you can reset the passwords of other admin accounts as shown above. Make sure that you don’t forget both passwords however as this will make the exercise useless.
  • The technician who set up your Mac should know the administrator password. Ask them to give it to you before leaving the shop. Better yet, ask them to create a secondary administrator account for which you know the password.
  • Make note of your passwords and store them somewhere safe and accessible to you.

Preventing Lockouts

Administrator passwords prevent your Mac from being modified by regular users, but forgetting it can cause you to get locked out of your computer. Knowing how to find the administrator password on a Mac or resetting it altogether will save you time and hassle.

Do you know of other ways to find the administrator password that wasn’t mentioned here? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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