After migrating to Catalina, login after restart and after change-user feature different users/passwords, please help!

I recently set up my new Airbook laptop with a fresh MacOS 10.15.7 and used the TimeMachine (full backup); at the same time I migrated from HighSierra to Catalina. Everything OK, until I restarted for the first time: my password did no longer work. I tried Recovery Mode, resetpassword, and to my surprise, it listed 3 accounts that were different from the accounts appearing after the restart, that is:

resetpassword: g.f. (my account, I think), root1 and adm;

after_restart: gf, root1 and another_user.

I reset all passwords, and after restart, I still could not log into gf, but I could log into root1. As root1, I could change the password for gf, via "System Preferences"; that possibility is greyed out ever since. I did change-user, clicked on gf (surprisingly I see the default Catalina background image, not the one I set myself), and now I could login with the password I always used before that "first restart after migration".

Only via changing the user (once logged in via root1) and via a login screen that then features the Catalina image, I can currently access my account, and I fear that even this may be disabled after the next restart. When I'm logged in, and I do "su root1", "sudo passwd gf" asks for the Old Password, and entering the password-I-always-used:

passwd: Credentials could not be verified, username or password is invalid. Credentials could not be verified, username or password is invalid.

Trying "sysadminctl -resetPasswordFor gf -newPassword xxxx" fails, too:

sysadminctl[19219:817916] Operation is not permitted without secure token unlock.

Moreover, as gf and as root1, using sysadminctl, I find that "Secure token is ENABLED for user gf". However,

sysadminctl -secureTokenOn gf thepasswordIknow

returns "Operation is not permitted without secure token unlock". Moreover, as root1,

sudo sysadminctl -adminUser root1 -adminPassword - -secureTokenOn gf -password -

returns "Incorrect password for user gf", if I use the thepasswordIknow.

What to do? (Why are there two distinct lists of accounts?)

Please help... I fear this nightmare gets worse and then I cannot access my account any longer.

I'm grateful for any hints



1 Answer 1


I’m a big fan of using the Apple graphical tools since they help make it clear what’s being done.

  • Thanks for responding, but: I don't have a link to the Apple ID, and both Recovery Mode and setting the password via another admin account failed for me:-( Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 15:38
  • Do you have a backup @thanks_in_advance ? How precisely did either of those fail you? Usually when that fails, it’s damage to the machine and an erase install would cure that so you could restore your backup. Hopefully you don’t have to pay for data extraction or recovery.
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 19:27

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