Administrator Password Not Working on Mac? Fix

Several users have reported that they are unable to enter the administrator (admin) password on the Mac because the password is not accepted anymore. In this article, we explain how you can troubleshoot if your admin password is not working on your Mac.

Users have stated that after entering their password, the password box shakes indicating a wrong password was entered. So they are unable to login with the password of the account. Users have also stated that System Preferences does not accept their admin password. If System Preferences refuses to accept your Mac password, you will not be able to make system changes, such as adding or removing users, when you click the lock icon to make changes.

See also: How to Fix MacBook Overheating after Upgrade

Some users have further stated that the problem they are experiencing began only after one or more macOS updates. There can be several reasons why your Mac seems to forget and refuse your valid password. For example, it can be due to a software bug. In this article, we explain how you can address these issues.

See also: System Preferences is Busy?

Your Mac can have multiple regular users accounts. You can also have multiple admin accounts. On your Mac, your admin password grants you administrator privileges. An administrator is allowed to make various system-wide changes on the Mac.

Before you do anything, ensure that you are entering your password correctly. Only continue if your Mac doesn’t accept a valid administrator password. This means that your password does not work even if it is the correct password. Please note that there are multiple ways to recover your admin password if it is changed or forgotten.

See also: KernelManagerd Causing High CPU Usage & Battery Drain

Update your Mac

The first thing you should do is to try to update your Mac. Of course, macOS updates are system-wide changes that, you may think, require admin user rights meaning your admin password is needed. But the answer is no. You can update your Mac using a user account if you need to log into your Mac.

Simply go to System Preferences > Software Update. And if there are updates available, follow the onscreen instructions to download and install them.

Update macOS

Reset SMC

It seems some Mac computers with Apple T2 Security Chip may experience this problem. If your Mac has this chip, this may be the reason. It appears that resetting the SMC (system management controller) fixes this problem. If you are not sure if your Mac has this ship, you can go to Apple menu > System Information. In the sidebar, click Hardware and then click either Controller or iBridge. Then check to see if it says “T2 Chip”.

Apple T2 chip

We recommend that you reset the SMC even if your Mac does not have the Apple T2 Security Chip. Here is how:

Mac notebooks that has the T2 chip:

  1. Turn off your Mac (Apple menu > Shut Down).
  2. On your keyboard, locate these three keys: Control, Option (Alt), Shift.
  3. Press and hold these three keys for seven seconds.
  4. After 7 seconds, press and hold the power button too (now you are passing Control, Option, Shift, and Power).
  5. Keep holding these four keys for 7 seconds. After 7 seconds, release all keys.
  6. Wait 15 seconds.
  7. Then turn on your Mac by pressing the power button.

Mac desktops that has the T2 chip

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Unplug the power cord.
  • Wait 15 seconds.
  • Reconnect the power cord.
  • Wait 5 seconds.
  • Turn on your Mac by pressing the power button.

Again, if you are having this password issue on your Mac without the T2 chip, you may still want to consider resetting the SMC. Please read our previous article explaining this process: How to reset the SMC.

Create a new admin account

Note this method may not work for you. You may be asked your admin password.

If you are still having this problem, you may want to create another admin account. Since we cannot use System Preferences, we will use Terminal.

See also: How to Boot in Single-user Mode or Verbose Mode in macOS

Furthermore, you can use this new account to grant admin privileges to your original account and then delete this new one. Here is how:

First, let us determine the name of your startup disk. You can find this by going to System Preferences > Startup Disk. Note your startup disk, this is usually Macintosh HD.

Startup disk

Now we will boot your Mac into Recovery mode. (since you will lose this page during this process, write down or print the following steps, open this on another device). Here is how:

  1. Turn off your Mac. Make sure your Mac is fully turned off.
  2. Press the power button and immediately hold down Command-R keys.
  3. This will open the macOS Utilities window.
  4. From the menu bar, click Utilities > Terminal.
  5. This will open Terminal, and in Terminal enter the following command hit enter:
rm “/Volumes/Macintosh HD/var/db/.applesetupdone.”
  1. Make sure that there is a space after rm. Also, make sure to include the quotation.
  2. Then type the following code:
  1. And follow the onscreen instructions.

Now you can use this new account to reset the original password.

See also: This Password has Appeared in a Data Leak: Security Recommendations on iPhone

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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1 thought on “Administrator Password Not Working on Mac? Fix”

  1. Thanks! There are so many out of date, inaccurate, or useless bits of “advice ” out there, it is nice to find something clear and correct. In particular, when something as starting as an admin password going bonkers, users are stressed and not taking things logically.


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