How to delete a user on a Mac

Managing profiles on your computer? Here's how to delete users on a Mac

how to delete a user on a Mac

Do you have a user profile on your Mac that needs to be removed to save space or clear up confusion? You can get rid of it, as long as you know what you want to do with the data attached to that user account.

Here’s how to delete a user on a Mac (in MacOS High Sierra), and what choices you should make along the way!

Step 1: Have administrator access

Administrator Access MacOS

You can’t do anything else here without the right administrator access to work with, so first make sure that you are logged into an administrator account, and know the administrator account name and password. This is why administrator access is important at the workplace! It’s also a good idea to have this info saved somewhere for your home Mac and make sure everything is up to date.

When ready, sign in to your Mac, but avoid using the user profile you want to delete.

Step 2: Users & Groups

Users and Groups Screen

Head down to the dock, and look for the menu icon that says System Preferences, or the square with a gear inside it. Select this option, and then search for the icon that says Users & Groups (typically in the lower portion of the System Preferences window), with portrait silhouettes as the symbol. Head here.

In the Users & Groups window, you will first want to head down to the bottom left corner and find the gold lock icon. Select it to make permanent changes to these profiles. This process will ask you for your administrator login and password, so be ready to put them in and select unlock. The padlock should now be open, and you can start making changes.

Step 3: Deal with the data

User Data Management MacOS

Once Users & Groups is unlocked, look at the panel on the left side of the window. This will show the current user signed in (which should be the admin), which you cannot delete, and all the other users and guests that have logged into this Mac. Select the user profile that you want to delete here.

You will see data on this particular profile now, but what you are really looking for is the plus and minus signs at the bottom of the user list section, next to the settings gear icon. Select the minus sign to get rid of a profile.

Now you will have several options to deal with the unique data on this user account. First, you can choose to Save the home folder in a disk image, which will create a new space that pops up in a Deleted Users subsection of the Users folder. This is handy if you frequently delete profiles but want to keep their general data (at a workplace, for example).

Second, you can choose to Don’t change the home folder. This will keep all the data under the user name in the Users folder, relatively unchanged. This option may be useful because it allows you to restore the user profile at a future date if necessary.

Third, you can choose to Delete the home folder. As expected, this gets rid of all the data and helps you clear some storage space—handy if this is your primary goal.

Note that if the user is only sharing access to this Mac, then these options probably won’t appear—that data is held elsewhere and doesn’t affect this removal.

Step 4: Finish up

Mac Confirm Remove User

Once the data is taken care of, chose Delete User to finish up the process and remove the profile. Confirm your choice, and users the rest should happen automatically.

Extra tip: Guest access

MacOS Sharing Account

Guests on a Mac can access features and data, but only via a shared link. Typically these shared profiles are added to give specific people remote access to the Mac and its files as needed for a project. If you have a lot of people who need access to the same Mac, or a rotating group that changes frequently, it’s probably a better idea to create a sharing only guest profile that is much easier to delete than a regular profile.

It’s also worth noting that you can change the name of user profiles rather than delete them. This may be another desirable option if you want to keep data but switch a user around to someone else with minimal fuss.