Forgetting a password is not an unusual situation and Apple is well aware of it. That is why there are several built-in features in the macOS for such situations. The default settings in the MacOS easily allow you to reset or recover your Mac password.
How to reset your Mac password
If you own a Mac, the password is the most important part of the security. You will need a password whenever you want to install new software, make any changes to the macOS, to log in (unless you are doing so via Apple Watch or Touch ID), and to delete any important files. But, what if you have forgotten your password?
If you ever come across such a situation, then the first thing that you need to do is not panic. As said above, the Mac has built-in features to allow you to reset your Mac password easily and quickly.
Before we detail those features, you must try by signing in as another user. Those who have more than one user account on the Mac (for friends or family members) can try by signing in with the other account. You will be able to get in if your other user account has the permission to decrypt your Mac with the password. On the other hand, if your other account is an administrator account, you will be able to change the password for the primary account.
To do so, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups, and click on the account for which you want to change the password. Next, click the “Reset Password” button.
However, if you don’t have another user account, then the features or tools that you can use to recover or reset your Mac password will depend on whether or not you have enabled FileVault. It is an optional macOS feature that encrypts your computer’s hard drive and other saved data. You can enable it during the initial setup or later via System Preferences.
Recovery options if FileVault is not enabled
The following are the tools that you can use to get back into your Mac if you don’t have the FileVault enabled:
Use Apple ID to reset password – during the initial set-up process, you would have linked your Apple ID with your Mac. This will now make it possible for you to reset your Mac password in no time. For this, you need to enter the wrong password three times. Thereafter, you will be prompted to reset the password using Apple ID. However, if you don’t get this option, it means that you haven’t linked your Apple ID to the Mac, and you will have to use other methods discussed below.
Those who have linked Apple ID need to enter their Apple ID details and password, and then follow the on-screen instructions to create a new password. Once you change the password, you will get a prompt for a new login keychain, but your old keychain will remain saved on the Mac. You will be able to unlock the old keychain if you ever remember your old password.
Use Recovery Mode – if the above method doesn’t work, then you will have to boot your Mac into Recovery Mode to get access to the password reset tool. To do so follow the below steps:
Step 1: Turn-off your Mac.
Step 2: Press and hold the Command and R keys, and press the power button. Keep holding the Command and R keys, until a progress bar shows up below the Apple logo.
Step 3: Once your Mac is in the Recovery Mode, click on Utilities in the menu bar and then Terminal.
Step 4: On the next screen, type command resetpassword and then press Return.
Step 5: Close the Terminal window. You will now get the Reset Password tool, including the list of all user accounts on your Mac.
Step 6: Reset passwords for all user accounts to reset the password.
Recovery options if FileVault is enabled
Those who have FileVault enabled, have two options to reset or recover your Mac password:
Use Apple ID – if Apple ID is linked to your Mac, you will get a prompt to reset the password after waiting a minute. After waiting for a minute, you will see a message on the bottom of the screen asking you to hold down the power button to turn off your Mac. Now, turn on your Mac, and it will boot in the Recovery Mode and get you to the password recovery tool. You need to enter your Apple ID credentials to reset the password.
Recovery Key – if you don’t have Apple ID linked, then you can use the Recover Key that you would have gotten (and you wrote it down) when you enabled FileVault. Enter that Recovery Key after three failed login attempts. You will now be able to sign in. Now change the password from the “System Settings” window.
If none of these options work for you – you don’t have a Recovery Key, or have not linked your Apple ID – then your only option is to reinstall macOS. Though you will lose all your files, you will still be able to use your Mac.