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OS X User Accounts - Add Administrator Accounts to Your Mac

Set Up Your Mac With Multiple Administrator Accounts

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OS X User Accounts - Add Administrator Accounts to Your Mac

Adding an Administrator account.

Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

An administrator account has elevated privilege levels that allow the user to make many changes to the way the Mac operates. Administrators can change system preferences that control how the Mac works and feels, install software, and perform many special tasks that standard user accounts aren’t allowed to perform.

When you first installed OS X, an administrator account was created. Each Mac only needs one administrator account, but it might be a good idea to allow one or two other individuals to have administrative privileges. After all, you probably didn’t intend to be your family’s 24/7 IT department.

Administrator accounts have the same basic capabilities as standard user accounts, including their own Home folder, desktop, backgrounds, and preferences, as well as their own iTunes and iPhoto libraries, Safari bookmarks, iChat or Messages accounts and buddies, and Address Book/Contacts.

Setting up administrator user accounts is a straightforward process. (You can also promote a standard user account to an administrator user account; more about that later.) You will need to be logged in as the administrator in order to create or edit user accounts. The administrator account is the account you created when you first set up your Mac. Go ahead and log in with the administrator account, and we’ll get started.

Create a New Administrator Account

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock.

  2. Click the ‘Accounts’ or ‘Users & Groups’ icon to open the Accounts preferences pane.

  3. Click the lock icon. You will be asked to provide the password for the administrator account you are currently using. Enter your password, and click the ‘OK’ button.

  4. Click the plus (+) button located below the list of user accounts.

  5. The New Account sheet will appear.

  6. Select ‘Administrator’ from the dropdown menu of account types.

  7. Enter the name for this account in the ‘Name’ or ‘Full Name’ field. This is usually the individual’s full name, such as Tom Nelson.

  8. Enter a nickname or shorter version of the name in the 'Short Name' or 'Account Name' field. In my case, I would enter ‘tom.’ Short names shouldn’t include spaces or special characters, and by convention, use only lower case letters. Your Mac will suggest a short name; you can accept the suggestion or enter the short name of your choice.

  9. Enter a password for this account in the ‘Password’ field. You can create your own password, or click the key icon next to the ‘Password’ field and the Password Assistant will help you generate a password.

  10. Enter the password a second time in the ‘Verify’ field.

  11. Enter a descriptive hint about the password in the ‘Password Hint’ field. This should be something that will jog your memory if you forget your password. Do not enter the actual password.

  12. Click the ‘Create Account’ or ‘Create User’ button.

The new administrator user account will be created. A new Home folder will be created, using the account’s short name and a randomly chosen icon to represent the user. You can change the user icon at any time by clicking the icon and selecting a new one from the dropdown list of images.

Repeat the above process to create additional administrator user accounts. When you’ve finished creating accounts, click the lock icon in the bottom left corner of the Accounts preferences pane, to prevent anyone else from making changes.

Promote an Existing Standard User to Administrator

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock.

  2. Click the ‘Accounts’or ‘Users & Groups’ icon to open the Accounts preferences pane.

  3. Click the lock icon. You will be asked to provide the password for the administrator account you are currently using. Enter your password, and click the ‘OK’ button.

  4. Select a Standard user account from the list of user accounts.

  5. Place a check mark in the ‘Allow user to administer this computer’ box.

Repeat the above process for each standard user account you want to promote to administrator. When you’re finished, click the lock icon in the bottom left corner of the Accounts preferences pane, to prevent anyone else from making changes.

Now that you have additional administrators, you can put them to work while you take a well-deserved nap.

Forgotten Administrator Password?

If you have forgotten the administrator accounts password, it can be reset using the guide:

How to Reset an Administrator Account’s Password in OS X

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