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How to reset your login password on a Mac

Passwords are a chief component of an individual’s digital identity, and as such, they require careful consideration when setting them to avoid potential security exploitations. Used by tens of millions, Apple’s Mac systems are among the most popular laptops in today’s tech-focused world, so it’s inevitably a popular target for hackers, so making sure you have a strong password is imperative.

Here's how to reset your Mac password to make it more secure.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • A Mac system

Changing your password

The most straightforward method in changing one’s password on their Mac is by changing it through the system settings. If you know your current password and are simply looking to reset it for any given reason, this can be achieved by accessing the Mac’s System Preferences.

Step 1: Click the Apple logo on the top left corner of your Mac screen and then select System Preferences. You’ll now need to select Security & Privacy, after which you’ll be greeted by several options pertaining to general security measures on the system, like the firewall. Look in the General menu and select Change Password.

how to reset your login password on a mac change button
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: When prompted, input your existing password. You can enter a new password below, and then repeat it in the Verify field.

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Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Finally, the last category that can be left empty or filled out is the Password hint section. You don’t have to input anything here, but it’s always helpful to include some sort of indication that will help you remember exactly what your new password is composed of, just in case you forget it.

Make sure it isn't too obvious, though.

Reset your password with your Apple ID

Another easy way to reset your Mac Password is with your Apple ID. Different MacOS versions will have this option that is accessible through the login screen (MacOS Catalina or later).

Step 1: Power on your Mac and wait for the login screen to appear. Once it does, keep entering a wrong password until a message pops up stating you’re able to reset the password by using your Apple ID. If this message is not visible after three attempts of entering your password, it confirms that your account has yet to be set up to allow you to reset your password using the Apple ID service.

Step 2: Once the Apple ID message is displayed on your screen, select the arrow/play button. From here, follow the onscreen instructions that require you to enter your Apple ID, after which you’ll be instructed to create a new password. Once this step is completed, the Mac will ask you to restart your system for the password change to be confirmed.

Reset your login password with another admin account

Another way to reset the login password for a particular user is through another admin account.

Step 1: Log in to your Mac with the username and password of the admin account.

Step 2: Click the Apple menu located on the top left corner, select System Preferences and then choose Users & Groups.

Step 3: You’ll now have to click the lock button to make any changes. Enter the name and password of the other admin account and click Unlock.

Step 4: Now choose the user name within the Other Users list and enter a new password. If you log out of the admin account, you’ll be able to log in to the configured user account with its new password.

how to reset your login password on a mac otherusersmac
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Use the Reset Password assistant via FileVault

If you’ve enabled FileVault, a disk encryption program for Mac OS X 10.3 and later, you should be able to reset your password using the Reset Password assistant.

Step 1: Once the login screen appears, wait up to a minute until a message pops up stating you’re able to use the power button to restart the system in the Recovery OS mode. If the message does not show up, it means that FileVault hasn’t been turned on.

Step 2: As explained in Step 1, press and hold your Mac’s power button until it shuts down. Now use the power button to turn on your Mac.

Step 3: The Reset Password window should now be displayed. Simply follow the onscreen instructions to create a new password from the I forgot my password or My password doesn’t work when logging in options.

how to reset your login password on a mac assistant
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: After you’ve completed the required steps, click Restart. You should now be able to log in with the new password, providing the Reset Password assistant allowed you to change it in the first place.

Reset your password with Recovery Key

Another feature of FileVault is the FileVault Recovery Key, which is another method you’ll be able to use to reset your password. FileVault needs to be turned on and you’ll naturally have to possess a FileVault Recovery Key for this specific procedure to work.

Step 1: Start your Mac up and wait until the login screen is displayed. Continue to enter a password until a message appears stating you’re able to reset your password through the Recovery Key function. If the message doesn’t pop up after three attempts, it means FileVault isn't enabled on your Mac system.

Step 2: Select the arrow/play button that shows up next to the message. You should now see the password field changing to a Recovery Key field.

Step 3: Enter your Recovery Key in this field. Please note you will be required to use any corresponding uppercase characters, as well as the hyphens where applicable.

Step 4: The on-screen instructions will direct you to the steps for creating a new password. Once you’ve followed them, click Reset Password.

If you’re unable to log in with your new password after restarting your Mac, Apple provides an additional way to address this issue: Restart your Mac once more and immediately hold down Command-R (or any of the other listed MacOS Recovery key combinations) until the Apple logo or a spinning globe appears on the screen.

When the MacOS Utilities window emerges, select Utilities, then Terminal from the menu bar. Once the Terminal window is opened, type resetpassword. Now press the Return button, which will subsequently open the Reset Password assistant. Finally, choose the "My password doesn't work when logging in" option, click Next and follow the provided instructions.

Creating a new login keychain

When you reset your password and log in to your account, a warning may arise that notifies you of the inability to unlock your login keychain. Don’t panic when this happens: As the password has now been changed, the login keychain will not be synced together anymore.

To remedy this situation, click the Create New Keychain button that pops up with the associated alert.

However, if you didn’t see the initial alert regarding your login keychain or messages indicating the old password is required, there are steps to reset your keychain manually.

Step 1: Open Keychain Access. It can be accessed through the Utilities folder within the Applications folder.

Step 2: Click the Keychain Access menu near the top left side of your screen, then select the Preferences tab. A window with a Reset My Default Keychains button will appear. After you've clicked it and entered your new password, Keychain Access will form an empty login keychain without the presence of a password. Finally, click OK to confirm the change.

If the Reset My Default keychain button is not showing, go back to the main Keychain access window and choose the login keychain from the left-hand menu. Click the Delete key (or right-click on login and select the delete option) and then click Delete References.

how to reset your login password on a mac resetdefaultkeychainmac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Log out from your account through the Apple menu. In the login screen, enter your new password. The password connected to your account and login keychain password should now be matched up to each other.

If all the above methods fail in changing your password, you can always contact Apple Support for further instructions and help.

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Zak Islam
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Zak Islam was a freelance writer at Digital Trends covering the latest news in the technology world, particularly the…
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