Forgot your Mac password? Here’s how you can get back

Comparing the new M1 Macs to their Intel counterparts at CNET Labs Brooklyn branch office.

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That feeling sinks when you open the lid MacBook, enter the login password and it is rejected. So, re-enter it, just to reject it. Again. It’s a frustrating experience, but don’t panic. Apple he knows that the situation with the forgotten password is a personal hell that many of us encounter, which is why it is Apple’s MacOS the software includes tools for just this situation.

There are several different methods you can use, and the path you take to unlock your Mac without a password may depend whether or not you’ve linked your Apple ID to your account on your Mac during setup or if you have any of the new ones M1 Macs. If not, that’s fine, there’s another option to reset your account password. Here’s how to start regaining control of your Mac.

Use your Apple ID to reset your password

Ideally, you should associate your Apple ID with your Mac account during initial setup, which will allow you to reset your user password with just a few clicks.

After you enter the wrong user password three times, you will be asked if you want to restart your computer to review the password recovery options. You will then be prompted to sign in with your Apple ID, select the account for which you want to reset your password, and then enter a new password.


Shutting down your Mac is boring. But don’t get too frustrated.

Carscar Gutiérrez / CNET

Use another administrator account

If you share your Mac with friends or family members and they forget their password, chances are you’ll be able to reset them for them. The key here is that you need access to an administrator account.

Usually the person who first set up a Mac typically has an administrator account, but you can check this by logging in to your account and opening System settings > Users and groups and browse the list of user accounts on your Mac. Just below the username will be the account type – if it says “Administrator”, you can reset the user passwords.

Let me do it, from the same Users and groups click lock and enter your administrator name and password when prompted. Then select the user for whom you want to reset the password, and then click the highlighted button Password reset and follow the instructions.

bypass-mac-user password

Remember to write down new passwords that you need to create for other users of the same Mac.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

The recovery method is your next best bet

You must start your Mac in recovery mode to access the password reset tool. I found the easiest way to do this by starting by turning off the Mac.

The trick to entering recovery mode will depend on the type of Mac you have. For Macs with an Intel processor, press and hold the Command and R keys on the keyboard, and then press the power key. Retract Command + R until you see the progress bar below the Apple logo. You can also enter recovery mode by restarting your Mac and trying to time the keyboard shortcut Command + R, but in my experience, starting off Mac is the most reliable method.

For the recently released Macbook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini that use Apple’s M1 processor, you’ll need to turn off your computer, then press and hold the power button until the options button appears. Click it, then select Recovery. (We have more thorough instructions on how to recover on the M1 Mac.)

When your Mac is now in recovery mode, click Utilities on the menu bar followed by Terminal. A new window will appear waiting for you to enter the command. Type “password reset“as a single word, without quotes, and press Return.

Close the Terminal window, where you will find a password reset tool. Follow the instructions, which include signing in with your Apple ID, and then selecting the account for which you need to change your password.


If you are using FileVault, you have two options for resetting your account password.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If FileVault is enabled on your Mac, you’re fine

FileVault is an optional MacOS feature that encrypts your Mac’s hard drive and all data stored on it. You can include it during the initial setup or later in System Preferences.

If FileVault is turned on, you have two additional options for resetting the user password. You can wait up to a minute on the user logon screen for a prompt prompting you to press the power button to restart your Mac in recovery mode. Follow the instructions to restart the computer, after which the Reset Password window should appear.

Another option is to use the recovery key you should have written down when you enabled FileVault. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t, but if you do, you can enter a recovery key when asked after three failed login attempts. Be sure to use capital letters and enter dashes – they are required.

Either way we listed is an effective way to regain access to your account or if your child has forgotten their password. Of course, if you can use this to log in to your Mac, so can someone else who has access to your computer. You can prevent this from happening, you just have to more proactive during setup with storing recovery keys and remembering passwords. Here’s how to lock your Mac.