OSX Help Please

I got out to our beach house last night and needed to do some work on the network. So I turned off all the computers in the house. When I turned on the Mac Mini this morning, I saw this screen.


Now that’s very odd because no users were ever set up on this computer. We’ve never had to log into it before. And of course, I don’t know the name and password since none were ever set up.

106156_2_2So I did some googling and found out that if I reboot the computer with the install disk I get an option to reset the password. That sounded like just what I need.

When I did the reboot with the install disk, I found my way to this screen (this screen shot is from the Apple support page). The only problem is there are no users to select from which of course makes sense because no users were ever set up on this Mac Mini.

At this point, I’d happily set up a new user and login with that user name and password but I can’t figure out how to get into OSX and System Preferences to do that.

So I am stumped. I don’t really want to reinstall OSX on this machine and anyway, I’ve got a newer version of OSX running on the Mac Mini than the one that I’ve got an install disk for.

Does anyone have any good ideas for me? I am all ears.


Here is a photo of the "reset password" screen I am seeing on my Mac Mini. There’s no system admin (root) user for some reason.


#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. dpedpe

    Hate to ask the obvious, but did you try clicking Log in? I am often prompted for a password, even though the password is blank.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, i did that. after i tried about a dozen other id/pw combos. thanks for the suggestion though. i’ll take any and all of them.

  2. Rich

    Even after you click on the Mac Mini hard drive icon it still doesn’t show the accounts below? The Sys Admin (root) user should always at least be there.

    1. fredwilson

      maybe the problem is my install disk is an older version of osx than is now running

      1. fredwilson

        rich, i updated the post with a picture of the reset password screen i am seeing. strangely, it doesn’t show a sys admin (root) user either.

  3. Zach

    I don’t think you can run OSX without a user account, you probably just had automatic login enabled. There must be a user and password – what would you put in when prompted for an admin password when installing software?

    1. fredwilson

      been racking my brain for that. it’s a machine we don’t use much except the summer months so my mind is hazy

  4. Rich

    If you boot the Mac Mini in Firewire disk mode (hold down T on reboot), you can at least mount it on another machine and look in the /Users folder to see what the usernames are on the Mini.

    1. fredwilson

      interesting idea. how do i mount it on another machine? connect my macbook to the mac mini with a firewire cable? i guess i should go out and get one

  5. Larry Bouchie

    I’m with Zach. Whenever I install Mac sw updates, I get a form autofilled with my name, and a request for the password. Could that be the info you need to submit?

  6. Benedict Evans

    The fact that the password reset tool shows that there are NO accounts suggests something Serious has happened. Frankly, backing up and reinstalling is probably the most sensible option.have you tried booting the mac mini in target mode (hold down T while booting a mac will turn it into an external firewire drive that you can plug into another mac) and connecting another mac to see what’s on the disk? If this works, have a look in the ‘Users’ folder in the root of the system drive. there should be at least two folders: ‘Shared’ and one other with a user name (‘fred’, say). The folder names here will the the user IDs for the accounts on the system – try one with a blank password.If this folder is empty, you’re hosed. If it isn’t, I’d back up up, wipe and reinstall anyway. (BTW, making a new folder there won’t create a user, sadly…)You might also try running the disk utility that’s included on the install disk – this might (or might not) be a disk corruption issue. Any disk errors that that can’t fix can be handled by tech Tool Pro.

    1. fredwilson

      benedictthis is really helpful and i think you are on to the issues i am facing.thanksfred

  7. Charles Jolley

    The username for this machine is probably the first/last of the person who set it up. (i.e. fredwilson).

    1. fredwilson

      tried that but i don’t think that’s it. i set it up for joanne.

  8. Stefano Buliani

    Have you tried Joanne, it clearly says Joanne Wilson’s Mac Mini on the screenshot of the login screen you posted.Having said that the fact that it doesn’t find any user when booted with the install disk is indeed very fishy and suggests that something really serious has happened.

  9. Stu

    You must have a User account on the Mac, it won’t run without one. You are right, you cannot use a older CD version then what is running on the Mac.Best advice: Get a Firewall cable, plug it in to your Mac Book and your Mac Mini. Boot the Mac Book normally, when that is complete boot the Mac Mini – holding the ‘T’ key the entire time. The Mac Mini will mount on your Mac Book. Browse to the /Users directory. You should see the User there, and hopefully that will spark your memory for the password.When you do get back into the Mini, go to System Preferences – Accounts. Click the little lock on the lower left, enter your password. Click “Login Options”, then “Display login window as: List of Users”I guess you just exposed the danger of an OS that hardly ever has to reboot. You forget how.

  10. Michael Buckbee

    This is similar to the other comments, but I’d try “Joanne Wilson” <— note the space between the first/last and a blank password. This is somewhat counter-intuitive as every other username in the world will kick you for trying to have a space.I believe this is the default Mac setup (as it pulls your information during initial configuration), at least it is on my Mini.Good Luck.

  11. Mark B. Johnson

    Dear Fred,Restart the machine while holding down the Command key and letter S. It should start in single-user mode.From the command prompt, localhost:/ root# enter /sbin/mount/ -uw /# /sbin/mount -uw /which will mount the file system read/writeThen go to the /var/db directory with a cd /var/db# cd /var/db/you can verify you’re in the right place with an ls. then look for a file named .AppleSetupDone#lsAssuming you see it (you should), delete that file with rm .AppleSetupDone#rm .AppleSetupDoneThat removes the file that tells the OS whether or not to run the AutoSetup Assistant upon boot.Then restart the machine normally with a reboot command#rebootHopefully that does it for you and you get a new user set up when you reboot.if that doesn’t work, e-mail me.

    1. fredwilson

      i heard this from a number of sources and i did it. but it didn’t work.

  12. Andrew

    I think it’s quite funny that you post this question on your own blog, as opposed to a forum more apt for this question. I don’t have an answer, but I’ve always had lots of luck asking questions on http://forums.macosxhints.com/Good luck! That is a strange problem.

  13. fewquid

    Hi Fred,Bad news first: I’ve had this problem several times on PCs and found a great Linux utility that lets you erase WindowsXP passwords (http://home.eunet.no/pnorda…, but it does notsupport OSX and I can’t find anything similar that does…Good news: Booting in to “single user” mode seems to be the way to go. Take a look at this very recent article — it’s a nice step by step guide:http://mustardhamsters.blog…I would strongly recommend doing the boot to target drive (hold down the T when the Mac boots and connect it to another Mac via a firewire cable) and backing things up first, just in case…Good luck!

  14. michael galpert

    username: applepassword: (leave blank)its worth a shot

  15. NICCAI

    Try this:1- Reboot2- 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/.AppleSetupDoneshutdown -h nowAfter rebooting you should have a brand new admin account. When you login as the new admin you can simply delete the old one and you’re good to go again.From http://hackaddict.blogspot….

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, this is the most common suggestion. i did it but it didn’t work for me.

  16. NICCAI

    And, ultimately, more on netinfohttp://docs.info.apple.com/…