Use a firmware password on your Mac

Setting a firmware password in OS X prevents your Mac from starting up from any device other than your startup disk. 

About Firmware Passwords

To protect the data on your Mac, you can set a user account password to prevent unauthorized users from logging in. You can also encrypt your startup disk using FileVault so that unauthorized users can't read the data stored on your Mac without the right password.

For additional protection, you can also set a firmware password on your Mac. A firmware password prevents your Mac from starting up from any device other than your designated startup disk

You can set a firmware password on these Macs:

When you set a firmware password, make sure it's one you'll remember. You might want to write it down somewhere so that you don't forget it. If you forget your firmware password, you'll need to bring your Mac to an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider to unlock your Mac.

Set a firmware password

Follow these steps to set a firmware password on your Mac using OS X Mavericks or later.

  1. Shut down your Mac. 
  2. Start up your Mac again and immediately hold the Command and R keys after you hear the startup sound to start from OS X Recovery.
  3. When the Recovery window appears, choose Firmware Password Utility from the Utilities menu.
  4. In the Firmware Utility window that appears, click Turn On Firmware Password.
  5. Enter a new password, then enter the same password in the Verify field.
  6. Click Set Password.
  7. Click Quit Firmware Utility to close the Firmware Password Utility.
  8. Click the Apple menu and choose Restart or Shutdown. The next time your Mac starts up, your firmware password is active.

Unlock your Mac using a firmware password

When you start your Mac from your normal startup disk, you see the normal login window where you enter your user account password. If you try to start up from another drive, or from OS X Recovery, your Mac pauses startup and displays a lock icon with a password field instead.

Click the password field and enter your firmware password. Then press Return to unlock your Mac and continue starting up.

Find My Mac

When you use Find My Mac to lock your Mac, it also prevents your Mac from starting up by setting a firmware-based password. As soon as it receives the lock instruction from iCloud, your Mac displays a lock screen that has four to six blank fields.

To unlock your Mac, enter the code you created when you locked your Mac from the Find My Mac website.

If you forget your firmware password

If you can't remember the password you set using the Firmware Password Utility or Find My Mac, schedule a service appointment with an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider. Bring your proof of purchase (original receipt or invoice) with you. If you plan to visit an Apple Retail Store, make a reservation (available only in some countries).

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