Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


How do I reset the Mac OS X admin root password?

I bought a used PowerBook G4. The original owners have moved to Canada and I do not have their phone number. The problem is that I do not know the administrator's password. I am unable to make changes on the computer or add software without a password. How do I get a new password when I don't even know the existing one?

I bet you'll be surprised how easy it is to change the administrator (known in Unix parlance as "root") password on a Mac OS X Tiger, Panther, etc., computer. The key to unlocking your system is the Mac OS X install disk.

If you don't have this disk, then your best bet is to buy a copy of Mac OS X, even though you already have the OS installed on your computer (you could try calling Apple (800 SOS-APPL) and asking for a replacement boot disk too). One smart way to accomplish this: look for Mac OS X on eBay. You might also ask yourself if you need to run Tiger, or whether Panther would work for you - it'd be a lot cheaper.

Once you have an install disk in hand...