I've got an external hard drive which I've hooked up to time machine, I have multiple Mac's but the one in question I am unable to remember the administrator password, which is a pain when trying to create an extra user account and install software, etc.

What should I do in this situation? What's the best way of keeping all my files and existing software but be able to start up with a new user.

PS: Worst case scenario is to restore the iMac and getting all my files back, ncluding Microsoft Office (if I am correct Time Machine will automatically back up software as well?) but is there a way of setting up the mac once restored through TM keeping all the files but not the user profile.

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  • 1
    Have you tried OS X: Changing or resetting an account password – dor Aug 8 '13 at 11:20
  • I can't seem to do anything! – Rose-Anne Aug 8 '13 at 17:28
  • 2
    This sounds like an example of the XY problem… instead of trying to restore your Mac and keep the files, try to reset the password (which should be much easier). If you're having difficulty doing this, try searching for a solution to this instead (and/or click the link @dor provided). – grg Aug 8 '13 at 19:08

If you want to reset the administrator's password, the method given here should allow you to do so. Be sure to expand the section that says "Resetting the original administrator account password"; the part at the top that says "Resetting a user's password in OS X Lion and Mountain Lion" will most likely do you no good, since you forgot the passwords for all administrators.

The steps in the "Resetting the original administrator account password" section does not require that you know an admin's password, and so you should able to follow these steps. In newer Macs (those released in the past three years or so), your Mac should already have a "Recovery partition", so inserting a DVD is not even necessary. Just start your Mac up and hold the keys "cmd" and "R" together, until you enter Recovery Mode. From there, you can follow the steps on the page.

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You can restart the Setup Assistant by performing the following:

  1. Boot into Single User Mode + S.

  2. Mount the drive by typing /sbin/mount -uw / then ↩ enter.

  3. Remove the Apple Setup Done file by typing rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone then ↩ enter.

  4. Reboot by typing reboot then ↩ enter.

  5. Continue setup, making sure not to transfer data.

  6. Setup a new administrator account. You can use this account to reset the password to the original account (through System Preferences → Users & Groups).

The new account can then be deleted once the original account has been recovered.

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If you have an older Mac that came with an installer DVD then you can use that. Insert the DVD and restart your Mac. After the chime hold down the C key on the keyboard until you see the grey screen with the spinning icon. After an eternity you'll be presented with options to install etc but choose Reset Password (I think it's from the Apple Menu). You can then enter a new password and restart.

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