My home folder name (bob 1) does not match my account name (bob)", but I want it to.

How I got here:

  • Got a new Mac
  • Didn't have the cables to transfer from previous Mac, so I just set up a simple test account with my same username "bob"
  • Once I had the cables I created a new account called "Admin" and then logged in as that account and deleted my previous test user account "bob" in System Preferences.
  • Migrated data from old Mac.
  • This resulted in a new account called "bob" but the home folder for that account was named "bob 1". I discovered that my deletion of the test "bob" account had not actually deleted the home folder called "bob".

While logged in as "bob" (which might have been a bad idea) I tried deleting the home folder called "bob" (from terminal) and then editing in System Preferences to change my home folder to "bob". After restart it walked me through the full setup and I realized it created a NEW home folder called "bob", and my old folder was still called "bob 1", except now my account was not associated with that folder (with all my actual data). So... restored from Time Machine.

Now I'd like to do it right. So -

  • I have a working account named "bob" that is linked to home folder "bob 1". I don't want to rename the account, just rename the home folder and have my account properly link to it.
  • I have an orphaned home directory named "bob" that I can delete via Terminal easily enough.
  • How should I go about renaming the home folder and maintaining (or re-establishing) the association between my user account and the renamed home folder? Or should I just give up and live with "bob 1"...
  • I posted an answer that I think should work, but I'm having trouble understanding if you already took those exact steps. If so, apologies.
    – JMY1000
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 0:50
  • Yeah... I did that once. What a faff! Lesson learned for next time - do the migrate at initial setup, not afterwards.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


Per Apple, assuming you're on OS X 10.7 or higher:

  1. Delete the orphaned home directory.
  2. Log out of the account you're renaming, then log in to a different administrator account.
  3. Go to the Users folder on the startup drive. The Users folder contains the home folder of the account you're renaming. Rename that account's home folder.
  4. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Users & Groups.
  5. Click the lock, then enter the administrator name and password that you used to log in.
  6. From the list of users, Control-click or right-click the user that you want to rename. Choose Advanced Options from the shortcut menu.
  7. Change the “Home directory” field to match the new name that you gave the home folder in the Users folder.
  8. Click OK, then quit System Preferences.
  9. Restart your Mac.
  10. Log in to the renamed account, then verify that your old files and folders are visible and the account is working as expected.
  • 2
    This did the trick. I had not switched to Admin before trying to change the account in System Prefs, and I did not actually rename the directory itself, thinking changing it in System Prefs would be sufficient. All is well now - thanks!
    – Bob Meador
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 5:58

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