My computer was restored from my ex-wife's laptop 3 years ago. Her maiden name pops up as the user-folder name on all my files, and it's been wearing on me for a long time.

I used this Q&A to try to change it, but when i get to tubedogg's 5th step, I can't figure out a way to change the folder name, even after double-clicking/going to the file on the root-user account.

Please helllp!!

" Change Users Home Directory Q: I have created a new user but the new user's home directory has the old users path. How can I update my new user's home directory so that the terminal opens to this directory and all software considers this new directory my home directory? I'm using OS x 10.8.4.


Apple's support site provides steps to change the "account name" (that is, the name of the home folder for a particular user).

1-    Enable the root user (using these steps).
2-     Log in as root.
3-    Navigate to the /Users folder.
4-    Select the Home folder with the short name you want to change, and rename it just like you would rename any folder. Keep in mind that the shortname must be all lowercase, with no spaces, and only contain letters.
    Use the Users & Groups pane (Accounts pane in Mac OS X v10.6.8 or earlier) in System Preferences to create a new user with the Account name or Short Name that you used in the previous step.
    Click OK when "A folder in the Users folder already has the name 'account name'. Would you like to use that folder as the Home folder for this user account?" appears. Note: This will correct the ownership of all files in the Home folder, and avoid permissions issues with the contents.
    Choose Log Out from the Apple menu. Log in as the newly created user. You should be able to access all of your original files (on the desktop, in Documents, and in the other folders of this Home).
    After verifying that your data is as expected, you can delete the original user account via the Users & Groups pane (Accounts pane in Mac OS X v10.6.8 or earlier).
    Disable the root user (using these steps)."

2 Answers 2


Don't try to swap the short name out. Do make a back up before you attempt any user folder rename. Consider restoring a file or two from the backup if you've never done that.

Instead, make a new user that's a temporary admin.

  • Use that user to delete the old account, keep the home directory.
  • Then rename the old /Users/whatever folder to be what you want for the short name.
  • Then make a new user account with that exact same short name.

You'll have the correct permissions and user at that point and can delete the temporary admin or keep it around if you don't mind.

  • 1
    Backup Thoroughly before trying this. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 23:48
  • @WayfaringStranger YES YES YES - I've edited that in the beginning. Thank you for the reminder.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 23:49

Honestly to avoid funny issues with the OS and any number of third party apps I'd rather create a new account and move the relevant data over from her old account.

Otherwise there'll always be references to the old user name in app's preferences, documents and other files...

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