Recover Mac after You Forgot its Login Password

Updated on November 6, 2019

Have you forgotten your Mac login password, which is restricting you to turn on or wake up your Mac? Don’t worry; you can easily reset the login password and access your Mac.

In this post, we share a variety of do-it-yourself methods to reset Mac password and regain access to your inaccessible Mac. We'll also share how to recover data from Mac that was locked or not starting.

Methods to Reset Mac Login Password

Being human, we tend to forget vital information such as a password to access our computer. However, you need not worry if you’re using Mac, as macOS has various provisions to reset the Mac password without the need for older one. But, first off, try to recall it using the password hint, as explained next.

1. Use Password Hint

When you forgot your Mac login password, the first thing you should do is to check the password hint. By seeing the hint, you might be able to recall the forgotten password. If you would recall your login password, you can start up your Mac without the need to reset the password.

Steps to recall Mac login password by using password hint:

  1. On the login screen, click the question (?) mark in the password field or enter the incorrect password three consecutive times to open the password hint message box.
  2. Use the hint to remember the password.
  3. If you could recall your current password, then use it to log in to your Mac.

2. Use macOS Recovery Mode

You should try this method when you can’t recall your lost password even after seeing the password hint.

Steps to reset the Mac login password by using macOS Recovery mode:

  1. Start or restart your Mac, then immediately press and hold Command + R keys. Release the keys once you see the Apple logo. Your Mac will boot into macOS Recovery mode.
  2. From the top menu bar, go to Utilities > Terminal.
  3. On Terminal window, type resetpassword and hit Return. Password Reset utility will open.
  4. Enter a new password then reenter the password to verify.
  5. Provide a password hint so that you can recall the password, in case you forget it in the future.
  6. Click Next. The password is now reset.
  7. Click Restart to reboot your Mac normally.
  8. On the login screen, type the new password to log in to your system.

Note: If you are concerned about data security and wanted to restrict unauthorized access to your Mac by using this method, enable FileVault encryption or Firmware password.

FileVault encrypts the content of your Mac, and the Password Reset utility won’t show up unless you reset it by using Disk Utility. When you set up FileVault, note down the Recovery Key and keep it in a safe place so that only you could reset your Mac login password in the future.

Warning: If you lose both the Recovery Key and the Password, you won’t be able to reset your Mac login password.

3. Use the Recovery Key

If FileVault encryption is enabled on your Mac, you can reset the login password by using Recovery Key.

Steps to reset the Mac login password by using Recovery Key:

  1. Press the power button on your Mac and click Restart.
  2. When your Mac starts up, click your user account.
  3. In the password field, click the question mark.
  4. Click the arrow next to “reset it using your recovery key.”
  5. Type the Recovery Key, then click Next.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to reset your Mac login password.

4. Use Apple ID

If you have an Apple ID associated with your Mac account, then you can easily reset your Mac login password.

Steps to reset the Mac login password by using Apple ID:

  1. On the login screen, click the question mark in the password field or enter the wrong password three consecutive times.
  2. Click the arrow beside “reset it using your Apple ID.”
  3. Enter your Apple ID and Password. Click Next.
  4. Using the on-screen instructions, reset your login password.

5. Use Admin Account

If you are using an office Mac that has an Admin account, then you can simply request the IT department to reset your Mac password. Or, if you have a home Mac with more than one admin account, you can use one to reset the other.

Steps to reset Mac user account password by using admin account:

  1. Log in to Mac with Admin credentials.
  2. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups.
  3. Click the lock icon then provide an admin name and password.
  4. Select the account whose password needs to be reset.
  5. Click Reset Password. Perform the on-screen instructions.
  6. Restart the Mac then enter the user account and new password.

6. Use Target Disk Mode

When the above troubleshooting methods don’t work, you can access your Mac storage drive from another working Mac by using Target Disk Mode.

Steps to recover Mac data using Target Disk Mode are as follows:

  1. If the Mac whose password you forget is on, then shut it down.
  2. Power on the working Mac.
  3. Connect both the Mac by using a Thunderbolt or FireWire cable.
  4. Start your Mac and immediately press and hold the T key. Your Mac will enter Target Disk Mode, and its storage drive will appear on the other Mac as an external drive.
  5. Recover data from the Mac. You may consider using the best data recovery utility for Mac to recover data.

Conclusion

We hope the methods shared in this post will help you reset your Mac login password if you can’t remember it. First, try to use the password hint to remember the password. When you can’t recall the password, reset it using macOS Recovery mode. In case you’ve enabled FileVault encryption, then use its Recovery Key to reset your login password.

If you have an Apple ID associated with your Mac account, then use it to reset the admin password. If your Mac has more than one user account, then use the admin account to reset the password of the other user account.

When nothing works, recover your data by using Target Disk Mode. If you’ve deleted or lost the data, install a data recovery utility on Mac. Then, scan the Target Disk and recover data by using the software.