Issue - father in-law has alzheimers (early but impacting) Wants files from Apple laptop and can't remember password(s) Shop who set it up for him wants $$$s to unlock and reset and I said what a lot of BS, but they didn't supply an OS disk with the machine so can I (or he if there is something he can do) get an OS disk to reset the admin password? PS. This is a first time foray for me into the world of Apples - he wants the "family tree" files..... Any ideas - inbetween times we are scouring bits of paper with notes and old passwords etc..... D.

  • What version of OSX are you using?
    – n1000
    Aug 31, 2015 at 15:32
  • If you can't tell what version of OSX you have, it might also be helpful if you can tell us about the MacBook. Does it have a DVD drive built in?
    – Kent
    Aug 31, 2015 at 15:53

2 Answers 2


Although the bmike's answer will probably work, I suggest to try something more leightweight first. This article describes the procedure:

  1. Boot your Mac's Recovery Partition by pressing cmd+r at startup
  2. Go to Utilities > Terminal
  3. Enter resetpassword
  4. In the GUI select the disk and user and enter a new password.
  5. Press Save. (Reset of home directory should not be necessary)

Reset Password Tool


You do not need a cd or dvd. That shop could have done you a solid and shown you single user mode.

Power off the Mac. Hold command S and follow the article below up to the two commands: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT2600

fsck -fy /  
mount -uw /  

Then do these two commands exactly as written - spaces and punctuation count:

rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone

Power up your Mac and then make a new account with a name like "rescue admin". This account can be used to reset the passwords of any other accounts.

  • 1
    Whoa @bmike! You are giving dangerous advice to an obvious newbie...
    – n1000
    Aug 31, 2015 at 13:52
  • 1
    What's dangerous @n1000 about the steps that Apple Documents? The OP is clearly astute enough about computers to know to not pay an opportunistic repair shop.
    – bmike
    Aug 31, 2015 at 13:55
  • 2
    :) Maybe you should add a notice that rm is quite dangerous, especially in single user mode
    – n1000
    Aug 31, 2015 at 13:57

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