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I am trying to add an administrator account on my MacBook Pro using single-user mode. However, the command /sbin/mount -uw / does not seem to work.

Any reason as to why?

/sbin/mount -uw /
apfs_vfsop_mount:1151: Updating mount from /dev/disk1s5 to read/write node is not allowed
mount_apfs: volume could not be mounted: Operation not permitted
mount: / failed with 77
localhost:/ root# /sbin/mount -uw /
apfs_vfsop_mount:1151: Updating mount from /dev/disk1s5 to read/write node is not allowed
mount_apfs: volume could not be mounted: Operation not permitted
mount: / failed with 77
localhost:/ root# 
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  • What version of macOS are you running? Sep 24, 2020 at 20:10
  • catalina 10.15.5
    – Bumpy Ball
    Sep 26, 2020 at 6:37

2 Answers 2

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This can happen because System Integrity Protection (SIP) is active. You'll need to disable it first using the command:

csrutil disable

You would commonly do this by rebooting your Mac into Recovery Mode by holding Cmd-R at boot, launch the Terminal and run the command above.

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  • Note that starting in Catalina, many parts of the file hierarchy have been moved to a separate "Data" volume (see this question), including most parts you'd normally want to change. So mounting / with write access may not be something you want to do at all. Feb 23, 2021 at 20:22
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Single user mode has changed substantially since the initial design of macOS (or more properly OS X when it started).

Since Mojave, this method is no longer common or straight forward since it can be used to trivially evade protections designed to prevent hijacking an existing admin account.

To get an admin shell, the proper steps are to boot to recovery and use the additional utility Terminal.app from the Utilities menu in recovery.

Terminal mounts the volumes for you so you don’t have to issue /sbin/mount -uw / but you do have to be aware of read-only system volumes in Catalina and check for restricted files when System Integrity Protection is part of the OS.

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