How to enable the root user on your Mac

Mac administrators can use the root user account to perform tasks that require access to more areas of the system.

The user account named ”root” is a superuser with read and write privileges to more areas of the system, including files in other macOS user accounts. The root user is disabled by default. If you can log in to your Mac with an administrator account, you can enable the root user, then log in as the root user to complete your task.

The root user account is not intended for routine use. Its privileges allow changes to files that are required by your Mac. To undo such changes, you might need to reinstall your system software. You should disable the root user after completing your task. 

It's safer to use the sudo command in Terminal instead of enabling the root user. To learn about sudo, open the Terminal app and enter man sudo.

Enable or disable the root user

  1. Choose Apple menu () > System Preferences, then click Users & Groups (or Accounts).
  2. Click lock icon, then enter an administrator name and password.
  3. Click Login Options.
  4. Click Join (or Edit).
  5. Click Open Directory Utility.
  6. Click lock icon in the Directory Utility window, then enter an administrator name and password.
  7. From the menu bar in Directory Utility:
    • Choose Edit > Enable Root User, then enter the password that you want to use for the root user.
    • Or choose Edit > Disable Root User.

Log in as the root user

When the root user is enabled, you have the privileges of the root user only while logged in as the root user.

  1. Choose Apple menu > Log Out to log out of your current user account.
  2. At the login window, log in with the user name ”root” and the password you created for the root user.
    If the login window is a list of users, click Other, then log in.

Remember to disable the root user after completing your task. 

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