I am trying to modify default Sierra password policies through pwpolicy, trying for example, to lower the depth of password history from 24 to 1 by hitting as sudoer:

sudo pwpolicy setaccountpolicies "policyAttributePasswordHistoryDepth=1"

But it is not working. The error message is:

Error: Policy file not found

The policyIdentifier I try to change that gets listed (with many more) when hitting pwpolicy getaccountpolicies reads like this:


How is the proper way of doing it?

  • 2
    I've never used the command, but according to the man page -setaccountpolicies "Takes one argument: the name of the file containing the policies."
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 7:59
  • I can't find the file nor the path for the XML list of policies. I am just able to get the through the 'pwpolicy' command.
    – Dez
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 8:13

1 Answer 1


Ok, this is how I finally resolved it, though I am not sure if it is the properest way.

As @patrix pointed out, pwpolicy setaccountpolicies requires for the path of a XML file with the policies.

pwpolicy getaccountpolicies gives the current global policies in XML format, so I redirected the output to a file with pwpolicy getaccountpolicies > file.plist , removing the possible info messages the command might write and leaving only the XML structure.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">

Then I changed the value I wanted to modify in my case, in the file I created (file.plist):


Finally I used that file to update the policy: pwpolicy setaccountpolicies /path/to/file.plist

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