I have to edit this question after spending a frustrating (frightening?) afternoon looking at this friend's computer.

He is older and quite vulnerable (he just lost his wife), but he is mac-literate, having used them for years. He relies on his photo albums - he is a well known architect.

Anyway, he bought a new machine some months ago, and hired a local consultant to set up the machine and migrate his files from his old system.

The user accounts are set up so that "consultant" is the account name.

The user part of the file system looks something like this:



All files (documents, images, etc) are owned by consultant.

(The frightening part is that the consultant (who has skipped town), left an open login so he can connect anytime, without any kind of password control).

So, my question is this: I need a reality check on how to proceed. Copy the user files to an external drive? Script? What about the accounts?

Is there something else to check?

I want the files to end up in:


i would welcome any more advice (shell scripts, methods, etc).

A friend has a iMac which has been recently set up by a consultant. I found that the home folder doesn't match the name of the user account name—rather, it's the name of the consultant (grrrh).

Is this a problem? Should I rebuild the system? Add a new user account?

  • What are you asking here, "Is it OK that the home folder has a different name than that of the account name," or "Why is iPhoto returning this error?"
    – Tuesday
    Jun 30, 2012 at 21:35
  • Good question. I think that first I have to fix the discrepancy between the accounts, then - if I still have a problem - try to understand what's happening with the iPhoto library. I expect that that is an issue with ownership and permissions.
    – ICL1901
    Jul 1, 2012 at 3:50
  • 1
    This is probably just a side effect of the consultant migrating your friend's account with a different user id than it had originally. OS X uses the uid 501 for the first account, 502 for the second, 503 for the third, and so on. If he created an account for himself when he first installed the OS than user 501 would be assigned to him. Then he imports your friend's account and it has to use 502
    – username
    Aug 14, 2012 at 6:13

2 Answers 2


The Apple Support Knowledgebase is your friend.

There are a few steps needed to change the homefolder name, requiring logging in as the root user, which requires that the root user be enabled and then disabled when the task completed.

The process is much simpler in 10.5 or greater and is a bit more cumbersome in 10.4 and earlier.

  • In agreement with following this approach. I recently needed to do this for someone else an it works like a champ for fixing the home folder name issue.
    – ephsmith
    Jul 1, 2012 at 0:21
  • Thanks a ton. The links are flaky for me though. I got through once, other times, I get 404s.
    – ICL1901
    Jul 1, 2012 at 3:30
  • 1
    OK, managed to get in and copy the two docs. Thanks very much for the pointers. I have tested this on my system, and will try to get to my friends asap.
    – ICL1901
    Jul 1, 2012 at 3:51
  • I wont mark this as "accepted" until I get back though.
    – ICL1901
    Jul 1, 2012 at 3:51

Just to finish this question, I finally got the computer fixed, but it was harder than the Apple Knowledgebase would suggest. While that worked fine to bring over all user files, it did not seem to bring the ~/Library. I had to build this manually. That is, reload the ApplicationSupport, Preferences and other folders. It was tedious. Maybe I made mistakes on the way, but I really tried to follow the steps as outlined in the Apple document.

The second thing that did not work was the Keychain access. The way the document is written, it appears that you only have to fuss with KA when using 10.4. That's incorrect. Keychain Access has to be updated to reflect the new user information. This was on a 10.7.4 system.

Anyway, thanks for all the advice. I hope the client appreciates what has happened.

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