30 August 2009 Tips 35 Comments

Enable root account in Snow Leopard

Enable root account in Snow Leopard

Accessing the root account is disabled by default in Snow Leopard. Luckily enabling it is pretty simple and takes less than 2 minutes.

Warning: Enabling the root account can leave your Mac vulnerable to security threats. Only enable it if you are aware of the risks and know what you are doing.
  1. Open the Directory Utility located in /System/Library/CoreServices/.
  2. Unlock the application by clicking the padlock icon and entering your Administrator login.
  3. From the Edit menu, select Enable Root User.
  4. Chose Change Root Password from the Edit menu and chose a password for the root user.

That’s it! Make sure to lock the application by clicking the padlock icon.

  • Chris

    Is disabling the reverse of the above?

  • http://snowleopardtips.net admin

    Precisely, simply chose ‘Disable root user’ from the Edit menu.

  • Brooks

    What do you mean by “security threats”? As long as you choose a secure password it’s safe, right?

  • http://twitter.com/snowleopardtips Snow Leopard Tips

    That warning is mostly a disclaimer for novice users who don't necessarily have experience with the command line or who aren't aware of good security habits.

    But having the root account enabled does make your system more vulnerable in any case. Perhaps the most basic example being a piece of malware installed on your system that logs your keystrokes as you login as super user. In this case, a good password would be useless.

  • GiannisK

    I have a serious problem!
    I need some sudo commanding but I get a icorrect password error all the time.
    a) I tried rebooting the system with its original CD and did reset the administrator password.
    b) I enabled root account from directory utility.
    I still get INCORRECT PASSWORF from the terminal when trying to SUDO.

  • rodo

    you guys rarely would need this. use the SUDO command instead. Few unix people uses a pure root account nowadays except for boot manipulation and stuff like that.

  • rodo

    SUDO needs your CURRENT USER password, not the root password. Precisely, SUDO is for AVOIDING using the root password

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  • sheemer

    I don't remember if I:ve done above or not, but just *sudo -s* is working on my SnowLeo.

  • sheemer

    I don't remember if I:ve done above or not, but just *sudo -s* is working on my SnowLeo.

  • http://menson.wordpress.com/ menson

    Thanx thanx so much for this tip !!!! you saved my digital life ;-)

  • doctorlove2010

    The last security update eliminated the EDIT Root User function

  • http://kompilesoft.info/ André Renault

    You can also run 'SUDO passwd root' w/out quotes and type your admin password then the root password.

  • Name

    Um……….. not on this Mac running Snow Leopard 10.6.2. I just enabled root user following the steps listed above. I am set up to receive auto updates, but out of curiosity, which update was it?

    I'm not calling you out, doctorlove2010, merely asking if the update disables the function, but not the physical enablement. I mean, I'm able to follow the instructions, but will enabling root user just not do anything anymore?

  • Name

    Oops, I responded to this comment below (post by “name” on Fri. Feb. 19 @ 10:14am Central).

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  • Ewido

    this is incomplete, it leads you into coreservices but doesnt go any further… theres 106 items in my coreservices folder.

  • Ewido

    Okay so in my tired state i didnt read thoroughly, but this route is not the only way into this directory, you can just as easily get to it through system preferences, account, login options, click join, and open directory utility. None-the-less I am still stuck at this point as there is no edit option and I cant enable root user.

  • Drcoz

    This does not work…there is no Enable Root User when I try this

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  • mac from school

    Im using a mac that the school lend me and i cannot enable terminal, As well when i open Directory Utility it states that i do not have permission.
    any advice would be great

  • tiger

    once you've opened Directory Utility, go to the Edit menu in the menu bar. that's where the Enable/Disable Root User menu option is. if you don't see it, maybe you're not running Snow Leopard or something?

  • Danno_g14

    wow thx mate finally got it enabled!!!

  • Behnam-s

    sudo -i
    does this!

  • Ted Irving

    i need help in osx 10.6.6 to disable the root user because two of my workstations for some crazy reason are only booting with the, “Other,” login. All of my other logins no longer show. None of my administrator or guest passwords are getting me past this other login window. Is there a verbose or single user unix code that will delete or turn off the root user login so that my other logins will appear? I've tried everything including a diagnostic disc and i can not get past this root user, Other login in window.

  • Alooooony

    drag terminal to cashes then u can use terminial

  • Dmac

    I am not sure why you'd want to enable the root account at all — so long as you have sudo. You can become root whenever you need it.
    > Start a Command Term. Then…

    ddmac:~ dmac$ sudo -s
    Password: <typeinyourpasswordhere>
    bash-3.2# whoami
    root
    </typeinyourpasswordhere>

  • Dmac

    I am not sure why you'd want to enable the root account at all — so long as you have sudo. You can become root whenever you need it.
    > Start a Command Term. Then…

    ddmac:~ dmac$ sudo -s
    Password: <typeinyourpasswordhere>
    bash-3.2# whoami
    root</typeinyourpasswordhere>

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  • http://mypixelbox.net Christopher Landman

    Brilliant! Thanks. Worked perfectly on Snow Leopard 1.6

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  • A Passerby

    Edit Menu in the MENU BAR!!!  Thank you!  Now it makes sense and now it works.  Those two little words make a huge difference.

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