I just unboxed my new MacBook Pro, running Yosemite 10.10.5. When I went through the setup procedure, it didn't ask me what password to use for my account, and just set it to that of my AppleID. (I only discovered that by trial and error.)

I now want to set my password to the same one that I use on the old Mac; but the password (eight characters, includes some digits, which BTW is also exactly true of my AppleID password) is rejected.

When I simply run passwd while logged in as myself, it fails saying:

passwd: general failure

And when I run it as sudo passwd mike, it is more precise:

passwd: Password change failed because password is too short. Password change failed because password is too short.

(Yes, it says it twice.)

It also does this when I use 13-character password. It doesn't say how long a password it requires and I am not minded to determine this by trial and error.

How can I force my Mac to accept the password of my choice?

  • 2
    Is this in a corporate environment (with centrally managed password policies) or a personal machine?
    – nohillside
    Oct 16, 2015 at 13:29
  • ^ If it's a corporate machine he may not be able to change it to anything.
    – Daniel
    Oct 16, 2015 at 16:30
  • @Daniel You always have the choice to remove a corporate profile - but you will lose the other things they give you if you do so in most cases.
    – bmike
    Oct 16, 2015 at 17:30
  • It's my own personal machine. (It's owned by my employer, but they have no role in configuring it -- it's left to me.) Oct 17, 2015 at 10:03

5 Answers 5


Try to change it by going to System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> your account, and click on Change Password...

  • 1
    Thank you! It was that simple. My problem was, having been a Unix hacker since 1986, it didn't even occur to me to use anything other than the command-line passwd utility. When I used the System Preferences UI, it told me: > “Mike Taylor” is using an iCloud password to log in and unlock the screen. > > Do you want to change your iCloud password, or stop using your iCloud password to unlock this Mac and create a separate password? Once I'd told it to use a separate password, I was able to pick the one I wanted. Thank you! Oct 18, 2015 at 19:27
  • This doesn't work, it wont let you change password to two characters for example due to some password length rules, how to change it then ? Tried by command line and similar error
    – Renetik
    Oct 16, 2018 at 15:01

Password policy is only enforced on OS X if you have a profile setting it or if the machine is bound to a directory server.

  • Checking profiles is the easiest - Open your System Preferences and go to the Profiles preference pane.
  • Checking binding can be done by opening terminal and showing the status:

dsconfigad -show

Delete any profiles that are setting password policy / restrictions and you will then be able to choose your desired password. Or you can reach out to the people that set your password policy and see what can be done to change the restrictions they have placed on your Mac. This isn't something that Apple defines as the out of the box experience as local passwords can be as short and insecure as you wish. You could have no password by pressing enter in the Users & Groups preference pane where you change the password using the normal graphical interface.


I have heard you can download an app called WorkGroup Manager, but I don't think it is available anymore, not that I know of.

You can try going to Terminal on the Mac by going to Applications, then Utilities. Open the Terminal app and type the command pwpolicy.

I would not do this however, if you are not comfortable with using Terminal since it is a command-line interface and you have to type your commands on what you want to do. The command, pwpolicy, will give you info on what policies you can use to set for different users. I have not messed with it, but I looked into it and it is not as easy as it sounds.


As of 10.14 (Mojave), the default rule that will be enforced for accounts that are created after the first account, is Enter a password that is four characters or more or leave the password field blank. While it should be displayed in the error shown to the user, you can find this information in terminal by typing the command pwpolicy getaccountpolicies. If you want to see the policies for just one account, follow that command with the account name.

Side note: In older versions of OSX the command was pwpolicy getglobalpolicy. I don't know in which version the command changed.

The plist for this policy shows the following RegEx: ^$|.{4,}+

Note that this policy does not seem to be enforced when setting up the very first user after a clean install. Instead, the only requirement is that the password not be blank.


Try using System Preferences. Under Users & Groups, you can select your account and click "Change Password...". You will be asked for your current password. This should work, although if you set up your Mac to use your iCloud login, then you may run into some difficulties.

If you're trying to set a password and System Preferences doesn't like it, the most risky way, but at the same time the most accepting way for short password is the command line.

Open Terminal:

sudo su -
sudo passwd mike

You can then change your password to whatever you want, even a 1 character password. This is not recommended, but if System Preferences rejectes you, the command line will take it this way.

  • Using sudo su - will log you in as root, not just as mike with special privileges. There's a difference between super user and uber user.
    – Daniel
    Oct 16, 2015 at 16:31

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