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OS X: How to change your account name or home directory name

Learn how to change your user account name and home directory name (which should match) by using the advanced procedure described below.

About the account name

Each user in OS X has a "Full Name" and an "Account name" as defined in the Users & Groups pane of System Preferences. Either name can be used to log into the computer. The account name is used to create a user's home directory (also known as the user's Home or Home folder) in the Users folder.

Changing the full name

The user's full name can be replaced from the Users & Groups pane by the user, or by an administrator.

  1. Open System Preferences from the Apple () menu.
  2. Click the Users & Groups or Accounts icon.
  3. Select a user from the list.
  4. Type a new name in the Full name field.

Changing the account name

Use the steps below to change your user account name. Before following these steps, you should back up your important data. OS X includes Time Machine, a feature that helps you back up and restore your important files to another drive or network volume.

OS X v10.7 and later

  1. Log out of the original account and into an Administrator account.

    Note: This needs to be a different account than the one you are renaming. If necessary, create a new, second admin account, log into it to complete the following steps, and then remove the extra account when you are done.

  2. Navigate to the /Users folder in Finder.
  3. Rename the home folder for the old account, being sure to make note of both the old account name and the new account name.
  4. Type in the current account's administrator password when prompted.
  5. Open System Preferences, then click the Users & Groups icon.
  6. Click the lock in the preferences window and enter the administrator name and password you are logged in as.
  7. Right-click or control-click on the account you want to rename.
  8. Choose Advanced Options from the shortcut menu that appears.
  9. Change the Account name field to match the new name of the folder in /Users.
  10. Change the Home directory field to match the new name of the folder in /Users.
  11. Click OK, and close the System Preferences screen.
  12. Log out of the current administrator account, and into the original (renamed) account.
  13. Verify your old files and folders are visible and that the account is working normally.

Mac OS X v10.6

  1. Log out of the original account and into an Administrator account

    Note: This needs to be a different account than the one you are renaming. If necessary, create a new, second admin account, log into it to complete the following steps, and then remove the extra account when you are done.

  2. Make note of the old accounts current short name. This should match the current name of the folder in /Users
  3. Run /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app
  4. Type:

     

    sudo mv /Users/<old_name> /Users/<new_name>

     

    Important: Replace "<old_name>" with the original name of the user account. Replace "<new_name> with the name you want to switch it to. For example, if the old user had the short name "johnappleseed", and the new user will have the short name "john", you would type:

     

    sudo mv /Users/johnappleseed /Users/john

     

  5. Type in the current account's administrator password when prompted, then press Return.
  6. Open System Preferences.
  7. Click the Accounts icon.
  8. Click the lock in the preferences window and enter the administrator name and password you are logged in as.
  9. Right-click or control-click on the account you want to rename.
  10. Choose Advanced Options from the shortcut menu that appears.
  11. In the Account Name field, change this to match the new name. In the above example, you'd change it from "johnappleseed" to "john".
  12. In the Home Directory field, change this to match the new name. In the above example, you'd change it from "/Users/johnappleseed" to "/Users/john"
  13. Click OK, and close the System Preferences window.
  14. Log out of the current administrator account, and into the original (renamed) account.
  15. Verify your old files and folders are visible and that the account is working normally.
Last Modified: Jul 14, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Jul 14, 2014
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