Why does creating a new account and making it an administrator require system restart in macOS?

I do the following:

  • login to macOS (El Capitan) as admin1
  • open Users & Groups Preferences
  • add a new user admin2 using + button
  • check Allow user to administer this computer

OS responds with:

You must restart the computer for your changes to admin2’s administrator settings to take effect.

The question is: why?

If I restart OS and login again as admin1 what has changed compared to the state before restart? admin2 was a just-created user and there were no processes nor other active settings that depended on it.

1 Answer 1


This only applies when changing the administrator status of an account after creation. When creating a new account as an administrator, the message is not shown. The OS doesn't keep track of whether or not the account has been logged in before, so changing the account type of an existing account asks you to restart in order for it to take effect.

  • 3
    This somehow doesn't make sense IMHO. "Allow user to administer this computer" basically changes the default group of a user, why would a restart be required for that?
    – nohillside
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 14:04
  • @patrix Right, but the question wasn't asking about why a restart is required when changing type but was asking why it's required when changing immediately after creating the user over creating the user like that in the first place? Or did I misunderstand the question?
    – grg
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 18:03
  • While an interesting insight and mostly true (not a critique, I just tried about 10 times and surprisingly sometimes the restart dialogue wasn't displayed), the question also included part: what would change on that restart. As I understand, you say that nothing would change, right?
    – techraf
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 3:58
  • I just tried as well (same procedure as the OP did) and didn't get the restart dialogue. So I really don't understand what exactly needs to take effect here.
    – nohillside
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 6:40

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