I wanted to enable Root user on macOS Mojave Version 10.14.4 so that i can use it in case another users or admins lose their login credentials. I tried this and when i tested out password reset for an admin user i get the following:

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I am not sure why root user fails to reset a password of another user, in my case it was an admin account, but the on the other hand the admin user is able to reset another admins password. I dont mind settling for having an admin account to actually serve as a reset password alternative but i am very curious why i cant reset a password with a root user. Any feedback is welcomed.

Thank you for taking your time to comment on this post!

Mac info:

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2018)

  • Disk is encrypted with FileVault

  • 4
    You don't need to enable the root user for this, any admin user change the password of any other user (including other admin users) within System Preferences.
    – nohillside
    Jun 15, 2019 at 14:23
  • Thank you for the answer. Any idea why would root user seems less powerful than admin user when it comes to password reset?
    – Nick
    Jun 15, 2019 at 14:58
  • 1
    The root user is a Unix-level concept, on GUI/Finder level macOS only knows about Admin users. Most probably you just run into one of the many issues resulting from mixing these two layers. If you want to verify, try to log in as root on terminal level (sudo -s from any admin account) and change passwords there.
    – nohillside
    Jun 15, 2019 at 15:01
  • I see. Interesting. When i enabled the root user for the first time i was not able to even access more than half of the options in the preferences panel. So what you are saying is probably the case. Do you by any chance know the command for reset password (not passwd which requires the old password)?
    – Nick
    Jun 15, 2019 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


Don’t use root user on Mac in the GUI. Use any admin account and credentials for the easiest time to make changes like this.

This is a fundamental design decision - Apple is even going towards a read only system volume, system integrity protection and all manner of things to make root and admin users go through security layers and barriers and API to secure the experience and user data.

  • 1
    @Nick you’re most welcome. I didn’t add, but when you change the password on the Unix level, you leave behind the keychain password and other affordances. Glad you’re here - some amazing people have deep experience with Apple products
    – bmike
    Jun 15, 2019 at 15:57

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