I was following steps given at makezine.com to reset a forgotten password for MacBook Pro (Mac OS X 10.6). But after doing


it doesn't give me back shell prompt #, as if it is doing some heavy computation. It's been like that for 10+ minutes. Any idea what's wrong?

  • Capitalization Matters! "/sbin/SystemStarter" - try exactly as it is here with capitalization - this command starts the network services – Miro co Nov 12 '11 at 6:51
  • Using instructions from July 2007 to change internals of an OS released in June 2009: Not a good idea. – Daniel Beck Nov 12 '11 at 7:56
  • @DanielBeck Do you know if dscl . -passwd /Users/username password is really necessary on 10.5 and 10.6 as outlined here? – slhck Nov 20 '11 at 18:23

The instructions on makezine are rather out of date and will not work on version 10.6 (and the section recommending SystemStarter was for versions that were old when it was written). On 10.6, use the following commands to change the password for yourusername:

fsck -fy
mount -uw /
passwd yourusername


  • The first command will check the file structure of the boot volume; if it reports any problems, keep running it until it says the disk is OK.
  • The second shouldn't print anything; if it does print something, it didn't work and you should check your typing and try again.
  • After changing the password, use the exit command to continue booting normally.

With the installer CD/DVD its even easier:

Resetting a forgotten Mac password is easier if you have an installer disk handy:

Boot from the Mac OS X installer disk by inserting it into the Mac and holding down the “C” key on boot.

Select your language preferences and then under the “Utilities” menu select “Password Reset” (it may say “Reset Password” instead, depends on the version of Mac OS X)

Select the hard disk that the forgotten password is on, then select the username of the forgotten password, you’ll then be asked to select a new password

Reboot as usual from the hard drive, using your newly reset password as the login!

This is obviously an easier method but it’s of no help if you own a MacBook Air with no DVD drive, or if you just don’t have the installer Mac OS CD laying around. In that case the other answer mentioned would be more appropriate.

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