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How to Enable the "root" Account on Mac OS X

Last updated: 8 August 2012

Quick Menu Method

The menu method is the easiest method to enable the "root" account on a Mac if you are more accustomed to using graphical tools such as menus. For older versions of Mac OS X you used NetInfo Manager, but for newer Mac's you use the Directory Utility. Either way, once you launch the utility, the proceedures are very similar.

NetInfo - (Mac OS X 10.4 or ealier)

If you have version 10.4 or realier then the proceedure is:
  1. Log in on the Admin account.

  2. Start the NetInfo Manager application, which is in the Application/Utilities folder:  Macintosh HD -> Applications -> Utilities -> NetInfo Manager.

    If you don't have this in the dock for the Admin account you should probably drag it there. It is very useful for system administration.

  3. From the top menu bar pull down the "Security" item and select "Enable root user". You will have to enter the administrator's password to authenticate yourself.

Directory Utility - (Mac OS X 10.4 or later)

For Mac OS X 10.5 and later you can use the Directory Utility instead of NetInfo. For just Mac OS X 10.5 you will find it in the Application/Utilities folder. For Mac OS X 10.6 and later you start the Directory Utility from the System Preferences as follows:
  1. Start System Preferences and select "Accounts".

  2. Under the list of users press the "Login Options", and then next to that press the "Join..." button next to Network Account Server. (You will not be joining a network account server, this is just the convoluted way to get to the Directory Utility).

  3. Press the button to "Open Directory Utility..."
Once you launch the Directory Utility, however you do it, then enable the root account by doing the following:
  1. Click on the Lock icon and give the Administrator password to authenticate.

  2. Pull down the "Edit" menu to "Enable Root User"

  3. Pull down the "Edit" menu to "Change Root Password..." and enter a good, strong password for the root user.

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Last modified: Wednesday August 08, 2012 Copyright © 2012 by Spy Hill Research http://www.spy-hill.net /help/apple/EnableRoot2.html