Enabling the root user

The root user (also called the super user) is a special mode that overrides the usual file ownership and permissions, allowing unrestricted access to anything on the computer. It's a very powerful and dangerous mode that is normally disabled on Macintosh computers. Without proper experience, it's possible to damage your computer's files and make it impossible to start the computer. Use root only when required by a specific task.

Enabling the root user

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
  2. Click Users & Groups..
  3. Click the lock and authenticate as an administrator.
  4. Click Login Options. Across from Network Account Server, click Edit.
  5. Open Directory Utility.
  6. Click the lock icon and type an administrator name and password.
  7. From the Edit menu, choose Enable Root User. If the menu says Disable Root User, the root is already enabled. In this case, choose Change Root Password.
  8. Type a new password for the root user account. This should be a unique and highly-secure password.
  9. Quit Directory Utility and close System Preferences.

Logging in as the root user

  1. Go to the Apple menu and log out.
  2. Click Other… and type root.
  3. Type the root user password and log in.

When you complete the tasks requiring root access, immediately log out in the Apple menu and log back in as a normal user.

Learn more troubleshooting techniques.

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