Recover lost admin rights on OS X 10.10 and 10.11_allow user administer this computer

How To Recover Lost Admin Rights On macOS High Sierra and Sierra, Mac OS X El Capitan And Yosemite

OS X 10.11_El Capitan icon 256x256If you lost your administrator rights on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan, macOS 10.12 Sierra or macOS 10.13 High Sierra, you can recover the admin privileges easily by rebooting into Apple’s Setup Assistant tool. This will run before any accounts have been loaded, and will run in “root” mode, allowing you to create accounts on your Mac. Then, you can recover your admin rights via the new administrator account. After that, you can reboot into your recovered admin account and delete the interim administrator account.

Recover lost admin rights on OS X 10.10 and 10.11_create a computer account

Recover lost admin rights on OS X 10.10 and 10.11_create a computer account

Normally, when you set up Mac OS X / macOS for the first time, your initial account will be an administrative one, allowing you to configure the system and install applications. Sometimes rare, errors that occur when upgrading, e.g. from OS x 10.10 Yosemite to OS X 10.11 El Capitan, or restoring from backup, or otherwise when making heavy modifications to the system, could result in your admin account being destroyed so you cannot log in to it or use it for changing system settings.

If it happens then one quick but well-known and convenient trick for recovering administrative status on a system trigger Apple’s Setup Assistant tool. This will run before any accounts have been loaded, and will run in “root” mode, allowing you to create accounts on your Mac.

Even though the Setup Assistant only runs once when you first install Mac OS X / macOS, it remains on your computer and is prevented from running by the presences of a hidden file called ‘.AppleSetupDone‘ in a system folder on your Mac. Therefore, to have the Setup Assistant run again so you can create a fresh admin account, you simply need to remove this file:

Easily recover lost admin right on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan,  macOS 10.12 Sierra or macOS 10.13 High Sierra by reactivating Apple’s Setup Assistant tool. Be aware that this option is also a security risk to your mac.

Stay tuned! 😉


Hi there,

my name is Gee Are, blogger and analyst. Blogging is my Passion! I’m the founder and owner of the two blogs called pabst.socialmedia and - Tech.Blog.

My work experience as a blogger and analysist (Internet Intelligence, SEO and social media) is the basis of the services of pabst.socialmedia.

Find more about me.

22 replies
  1. Dirk
    Dirk says:

    I’m having the same issue with Yosemite, but your first step doesn’t work. In the end I’m not able to have the start-up disk writable.

  2. Dirk
    Dirk says:

    Hi Gee,

    yesterday it didn’t work, today it does. What a good sleep and a cup of coffee can do! Thanks for your support!


    • Gee Are Pabst
      Gee Are Pabst says:

      Hi Anna,

      I cannot guarantee you anything. But so far in my experience, there’s no risk if you do not delete any account.

      Regarding your current data: You use the new account solely to gain access to your ‘old’ account again. This means you do not need to transfer any data. Just follow my instructions carefully step-by-step!

      Gee Are

  3. stephanie de leng
    stephanie de leng says:

    this does not work for me at all. I tried twice Do I press return after I enter these commands? Sorry to ask – I did enter return but it has not helped. I am not clear if I enter reboot at the end or ‘reboot’

    Thank you

  4. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Hi Gee,

    Once I boot up my mac, it just starts up, and holding command + S didn’t do anything. What should I do?


  5. Nhimnguyen
    Nhimnguyen says:

    Hi there,

    By accident, I ticked in the box “Allow user to administer this computer”. Now I have 2 admin accounts but I really want to remove one of them. I did log out the one I want to remove, logged in the one I want to keep, open the golden lock, but the “minus” button is always grey so I cannot remove it. Please anyone tell me what should I do now? Many thanks

  6. campanita
    campanita says:

    Hello Gee
    I followed the instructions, but it didn´t work. Started normally after reboot. Does it work with High Sierra?
    I did notice that when I wite this: mount -uw it / shows up as this: mount/uw/

  7. Hansol Park
    Hansol Park says:

    Hi, so umm.. i have this problem and did exactly what you told me to do. but all it does is that after rebooting, it just comes up on a normal startup screen. plz help.


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