Three Ways to Reset a Lost Admin Password in High Sierra

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Have you forgotten your Mac’s admin password, or need to help a friend or client who has lost it? Here’s how to reset it, but beware that doing so prevents access to the account keychain’s collection of login credentials.

The Terminal version appears to be different—and more secure—than with previous versions of macOS. Heretofore the password assistant merely required you to select an account and you could create a new password. As well, when you logged in the the new password you could convert the old keychain if you remembered the old password. Of course, if you don’t remember the old password, as is usually the case if you are creating a new one, then you have to create a new keychain. Which might not be a bad idea if you want to delete accumulated chuff: Old passwords you don’t use any more. Then you’ll have to return to your current secure accounts and create new keychain entries for them, when prompted. High Sierra seems a bit harder to get in to.

Thanks for the article. Is there a way to reset the keychain password without losing all the stored info? I know admin user account and keychain passwords, but they are no the same (I changed admin account password several OS versions ago but that change never happened to keychain password). Is the keychain password machine specific? Asynchrony may be an artifact of the fact that I share keychain in iCloud settings, and I don’t want to mess that up.

Yes, you can use Keychain to change a keychain’s password if you know the current password; select the keychain, go to the Edit menu. You should have multiple keychains listed, ‘login’ is probably the one you want to change but there are probably others.

The keychain’s password is within the keychain file, it’s not machine specific.

Due to other computing needs, I must still use High Sierra. I’ve been trying to change my password using all the various the instructions above (system preferences and terminal reset). No matter which method I use it seems to want to contact an authentication server, which it cannot find.

Any other suggestions?

Thank you.

EDIT: It is the Admin account.

Hi, thank you for the article.
I can’t find my particular scenario which is that User login works at startup, Keychain login works all the time (I use secure notes a lot), but my Admin is locked (no other users, I’m the only admin) and the above password which I use for all entry isn’t working to unlock it. I had some recovery work done some time ago so assume the technician must have changed it. Can’t quite believe I can’t access my own Admin. Cannot lose all my Keychain content (hundreds of confidential notes). No other user and no other option presented (Firevault must be on). What are my steps to get around this please? I do have Apple ID and password.

PS but Allow user to reset password using Apple ID is greyed off.
High Sierra 10.13.6

OK this is getting weirder. Just noticed a blue option to change password up near my name so did it. Then tried to open lock. No luck. So changed it back (to my fave one that SHOULD be working). Then gave up. Went back to life and got a message that I changed my password so enter password to enable iCloud. Did and it worked fine. So basically everything is working except unlocking that lock! (All because I want to install an application, to make a frame, to add to FB, to thank the Firies [fire fighters] in Australia). Thank you to the Firies (and all volunteers everywhere), anyway.

If you have the keychain password, can you export the items?

I don’t seem to be able to export anything—the command is always dimmed—but that Apple support article implies it should be possible in at least some cases.

Just want to say a BIG THANK YOU for this!!!

I haven’t touched my personal MacBook Pro in several months and went to fire it up, only to freeze in abject horror. What was the password?!? I knew it had something to do with hockey team names, and I knew which two teams. But, couldn’t remember it for the life of me.

Found your instructions and they worked great. Now, if only, they worked on my Fujitsu laptop running W10 I’d be utterly ecstatic!

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