Forgotten password - no OS X CD

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Chris Adams, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. Chris Adams

    Chris Adams Guest

    A friend with a G3/500 mHz iMac (OS X 10.4.7) asked me to help her
    install the software for her new Hewlett Packard all-in-one
    printer/scanner/copier. The installer asked for her password.

    She's forgotten it. She is the sole (admin) user.

    I discovered that you can reset the password using the OS X installer

    She has either misplaced, or never had, an installer CD (the iMac was
    bought used).

    Googling got me this:

    "Here's how to reset your OS X password without an OS X CD. You need to
    enter terminal and create a new admin account:

    1. Reboot

    2. Hold apple + s down after you hear the chime.

    3. When you get text prompt enter in these terminal commands to create a
    brand new admin account (hitting return after each line):

    * mount -uw /
    * rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone
    * shutdown -h now

    4. After rebooting you should have a brand new admin account.

    5. Change the password on your old account while logged in as your new
    Admin account, then log back in as yourself and delete your new Admin

    My friend is retired and has zero technical knowledge, though she gets a
    big kick out of all the things this somewhat elderly iMac lets her do. I
    do NOT want to hose her machine.

    Does anyone have an opinion as to whether the above tersely-described
    procedure will work, and is safe? I'm not clear how you can create a new
    admin account via Terminal apparently without entering a new
    username/password. How do you log in as the new user?

    Another friend has an eMac with two OS X 10.3.? installer CDs. Might
    these be used to reset a password on another model Mac with 10.4?

    I go into battle again with the iMac on Tuesday. Any advice will be much

    TIA, Chris Adams.
    Chris Adams, Sep 9, 2007
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  2. Chris Adams

    Ian Gregory Guest

    That should boot up in single user mode.
    Gets access to the filesystem
    Makes it appear that the system has not been set up
    Presumably after reboot you will be asked to set up the machine,
    which should include prompting you for username and password for
    an admin account. Make sure you use an obscure username that is
    unlikely to be the same as any existing username.
    Sounds reasonable.
    I can understand that.
    I don't see why it shouldn't work, but you are right to be wary. As I
    said, you should be prompted for new admin username and password after
    reboot and once you have finished the setup you will probably find
    yourself logged in. If another reboot is required then just let it
    reboot and if it doesn't log in to the new admin account automatically
    then log in manually as normal using the new admin username and
    CDs supplied with a machine will only work on the same model. CDs
    from a retail version of the OS should work on any machine that
    supports that release.
    Good luck.

    Ian Gregory, Sep 9, 2007
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  3. Chris Adams

    Chris Adams Guest

    Thanx Ian, Dave and Thom. Now I know how the magic words work I'll feel
    more comfortable about doing it. Will report back if it works.

    Also if it doesn't....
    Chris Adams, Sep 10, 2007
  4. Chris Adams

    David Empson Guest


    General instructions are fine as to the procedure, and I concur with Ian
    Gregory's observations.
    There is one catch at this point (which also applies if you use the
    Password Reset mechanism when booted from a Mac OS X CD):

    You can change the login password on the existing account, but you can't
    change the keychain password in sync with it. The keychain will retain
    its previous password, and it won't automatically unlock when that user
    logs in.

    Unless the old password is known, the effect is to lose access to the
    keychain and any other passwords which are stored in there, which may
    include many e-mail accounts and web sites.

    It is possible to delete the existing keychain and create a new one, but
    if there are a lot of passwords in there, this could be ugly.

    You can find out what items are stored in the keychain BEFORE resetting
    the password on the existing account, but you won't be able to read the
    passwords (unless the individual items had been previously unlocked for
    Keychain Access to read them).

    You might like to try some educated guesswork to find the existing
    password before resorting to resetting the account's password.

    Some obvious ones include the word "password" or a blank password (just
    press Return), or a single space, or the person's name, or the same
    password as their e-mail account (if they know that one).
    David Empson, Sep 10, 2007
  5. Chris Adams

    Kit Guest

    Isn't this a reason for not using the keychain?

    I have never, ever used keychain because for me the convenience is not
    enough to overcome the decreased security.

    For example, a person who somehow gets hold of your login password or
    gets onto your computer while you are still logged in can have access
    to ALL your passwords. The corollary to this is, as you state above,
    that losing your login password can also lose all the passwords in the

    Kit, Sep 10, 2007
  6. Chris Adams

    Daniel Cohen Guest

    I must admit I hadn't known it was that easy to get into an admin
    account not knowing the password.

    But surely there is a much more simple procedure.

    If she can use her machine without knowing the password, she must have
    auto login set.

    So, as she is an admin user, she can just create anew account and give
    it admin privileges.

    Then login to the new account and change the password on the old one.

    As remarked by another poster, there will be an issue with the keychain.
    Daniel Cohen, Sep 10, 2007
  7. Chris Adams

    Ian Gregory Guest

    Decreased compared to what? It is certainly more secure than keeping
    all your passwords in a plain text file on your machine:) It also
    might be more secure than choosing passwords that are simple enough
    to remember, or making all your passwords the same, or writing them
    down on paper.

    I do use the keychain for passwords on some 50 or so accounts,
    and I have it set to use a different password than my login one,
    and to lock whenever the machine goes to sleep so even if I
    forget to lock it when I get up and leave it will lock after 15
    minutes and then nobody will be able to unlock it except me.

    I didn't start off using keychain but eventually I decided to
    because I could see that it had both convenience *and* security
    benefits. Forgetting my keychain password is of course a danger,
    but then the same applies to all sorts of things, like using
    encrypted disk images.

    Ian Gregory, Sep 10, 2007
  8. Chris Adams

    Kit Guest

    Well, yes, of course!
    My passwords are in my head so relatively secure, I think, though I
    must admit that the mere threat of torture would be enough to make me
    divulge them.

    Maybe I'm just paranoid, but it concerns me that someone guessing or
    hacking just one password would have access to the whole keychain.
    With separate passwords, even if one is guessable then at least they
    have access to only one.

    I really don't need to use that many passwords - perhaps a dozen or so.
    The balance of convenience and (perceived) security will differ from
    person to person, depending on number of computers, number of accounts,
    number of passwords, etc. I use just one computer and it has only two
    user accounts, one of which is just for people who visit.

    Kit, Sep 10, 2007
  9. Chris Adams

    Ian Gregory Guest

    I do have a few passwords that I keep only in my head, for example:

    My keychain password
    The ones used to unlock my PGP and ssh private keys
    The login passwords for my account and the admin account on my iMac
    The PIN number for my online banking
    Understandable, it is important to use a good password on your keychain
    I have a ridiculous number of online accounts. I have tried to slim
    it down but hold little hope of reducing it to as few as a dozen:-(

    Ian Gregory, Sep 10, 2007
  10. Chris Adams

    Chris Adams Guest


    Thanks for that. I'll look at her keychain before I do anything else.

    Chris Adams, Sep 10, 2007
  11. Chris Adams

    Király Guest

    I recommend getting a 10.4 install disc. She will need it of she ever
    wants to run Disk Utility from it, or to sell the iMac. There are a few
    cheap eMac 10.4 install disc sets on eBay right now that will work with this
    Mac (I have done it before myself.)
    Király, Sep 11, 2007
  12. Chris Adams

    Chris Adams Guest


    The puritan in me ruled out the "passwd short-name" short-cut, so I went
    the longer route of deleting the .AppleSetupDone file, then going
    through all the "Welcome to OS X!" setup screens after reboot.

    There was a nervous moment when the eMac demanded to know the AirPort
    network password (user had forgotten it - arrgghhhh), but I lied and
    told it there was no network. After that it was all plain sailing.

    A 10.4 install CD is indeed a priority now the immediate problem is

    My friend bought a Hewlett-Packard printer/scanner last December. Now
    for the first time she can use it, as she had a valid password when HP's
    software installer asked for it.

    Thanks to all who responded.
    Chris Adams, Sep 11, 2007
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