I have a 17" Macbook Pro which I upgraded to Mavericks about six months or a year ago. Yesterday, the disk crashed and so I reinstalled from the original install DVD (thus reverting to Snow Leopard), and then had it restore all my data from a Time Machine backup.

Now it won't let me log in on any account, even though I'm sure I got the password right.

(I had intended to upgrade to Mavericks again, but now I can't because I can't log in.)

I booted to recovery mode and ran the resetpassword command and changed my passwords. But when I rebooted, the system still wouldn't recognize them.

I booted single user, removed /var/db/.AppleSetupDone, rebooted, went through the "first use" wizard, created a new admin account, and used that admin account to set my other accounts' passwords. The system still wouldn't recognize them.

I'm guessing that the Time Machine backups have passwords stored in some format or encryption that Snow Leopard does not understand, and for some reason this is preventing Leopard from actually changing the passwords.

What do I do now? Does anybody recognize these symptoms?

(Edited for clarity.)

  • The Macbook came pre-installed with Leopard and bundled with a set of Leopard install dvds. About a year ago I upgraded to Mavericks. Yesterday it crashed and was unable to recover the hard drive. Last night I re-installed Leopard from the dvds, intending to upgrade to Mavericks again later. Meanwhile, I restored from Time Machine backups and am now in this state where I can't log in and can't reset the passwords. Apr 10, 2015 at 19:42
  • Yeah, I was hoping to avoid another 5-hour installation marathon, but that's probably the best answer. Maybe I'll take this opportunity to upgrade my disk drive at the same time. Apr 10, 2015 at 21:32
  • Final answer: I figured this was as good a time as any to upgrade my hardware, so I bought a new disk drive, installed it, installed Snow Leopard from the install disks, upgraded to Yosemite, and used Migration Assistant to restore my backups, settings, and software. It all works like a charm. I never did get an answer to my initial question, but it's moot now. Apr 16, 2015 at 22:20

1 Answer 1


Two months later with no real answer. I had to wipe my machine again and install Snow Leopard without restoring from backups. I then did an online update to the most recent version of Snow Leopard, and then an online update to Yosemite, and then I was able to restore from backups.

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