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Can’t Enter Your Password in macOS Big Sur? Here’s How to Fix It

After updating to macOS Big Sur, you might find that your Mac doesn’t accept your administrator password anymore.

Don’t worry, you aren’t typing your password wrong. This issue is down to a bug with macOS Big Sur, and we can show you how to fix it.


Why can’t I enter my password in macOS Big Sur?

It looks as though the update to macOS Big Sur might cause your Mac to forget which accounts have administrator privileges. This means macOS won’t accept your password when you use it to change System Preferences, install apps, or perform other admin-level tasks.

Administrator password entry window on macOS Big Sur
macOS Big Sur might not accept your administrator password.

After entering your password, this bug causes the password box to shake as though you entered it incorrectly. This keeps happening no matter how carefully you type your password.

Don’t worry though, your password hasn’t changed and this issue is easy to fix.

If macOS Big Sur won’t accept your password, use the steps below to fix it. You might need to reset the administrator accounts on your Mac, but you won’t need to change your password.

Step 1. Update to the latest version of macOS

If you’re certain you typed your password correctly, the only reason macOS Big Sur won’t accept it is due to a software bug. Bugs like this are relatively common with new software updates.

Usually, Apple releases a patch update within a couple of weeks that fixes the most problematic bugs. It’s possible that Apple already released a patch update by the time you’re reading this.

Take a moment to update your Mac to the latest version of macOS. This ensures you will benefit from the latest bug fixes and could resolve any password problems in macOS Big Sur.

To update your Mac:

  1. Open the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the menu bar.
  2. Go to System Preferences and choose the Software Update option.
  3. Wait for your Mac to check for new updates, then download and install any updates that are available.
macOS Big Sur Software Update System Preferences checking for updates
Be sure to install any new macOS updates available for your Mac.

Step 2. Perform an SMC reset

The system management controller (SMC) is present in Intel-based Mac computers and is responsible for tasks related to the power supply, battery, fans, and other Mac features.

Many users found that resetting the SMC on their Mac resolved issues they were experiencing with macOS Big Sur refusing to accept their password.

You won’t lose any data from resetting the SMC, and it only takes a minute to try it.

The method you need to follow to reset the SMC depends on your particular Mac. First, follow this link to find out if your Mac uses a T2 security chip, then follow the relevant instructions below.

Apple T2 chip in System Report window
Find out if your Mac has a T2 chip from the System Report window.

How to reset the SMC if your Mac has a T2 security chip:

  1. Open the Apple menu and Shut Down your Mac. Then wait for your Mac to finish powering off.
  2. Now press and hold the Power button for 10 seconds.
  3. Your Mac should remain powered off. If it turned back on, shut it down again from the Apple menu.
  4. On a MacBook:
    1. Press and hold Control (Left) + Option (Left) + Shift (Right).
    2. Keep holding them all for seven seconds, then press and hold the Power button with the other keys.
    3. Keep holding all keys for another seven seconds, then release them.
    4. Press the Power button again to restart your Mac.
  5. On an iMac:
    1. Unplug the power cable for 15 seconds.
    2. Reconnect the power cable and wait five seconds.
    3. Press the Power button again to restart your Mac.

How to reset the SMC if your Mac does not have a T2 security chip:

  1. Open the Apple menu and Shut Down your Mac. Then wait for your Mac to finish powering off.
  2. On a MacBook with a removable battery:
    1. Remove the battery from the bottom of your MacBook.
    2. With the battery removed, press and hold the Power button for five seconds.
    3. Release the power button and reinstall the battery.
    4. Press the Power button again to restart your MacBook.
  3. On a MacBook without a removable battery:
    1. Press and hold Shift (Left) + Control (Left) + Option (Left).
    2. Keep holding all keys, then also press and hold the Power button.
    3. After 10 seconds, release all the buttons at the same time.
    4. Press the Power button again to restart your MacBook.
  4. On an iMac:
    1. Unplug the power cable for 15 seconds.
    2. Reconnect the power cable and wait five seconds.
    3. Press the Power button again to restart your Mac.

Step 3. Reset the administrator account using Terminal

It seems that macOS Big Sur stops accepting passwords when it forgets which users are administrators. If this happens on your Mac, you can fix it using Terminal to create a new administrator account.

You can then use the new account to assign administrator privileges to your original account, then delete the new account you created to do so.

For this Terminal command, you need to boot your Mac into Recovery mode first. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Finder and make a note of the name of your startup drive in the Locations section of the sidebar. By default, this is Macintosh HD.
  2. Open the Apple menu and Shut Down your Mac.
  3. Hold down Cmd + R while you press the Power button to restart your Mac in Recovery mode.
  4. When the macOS Utility window appears, go to Utilities > Terminal from the menu bar.
  5. Type the following Terminal command, replacing Macintosh HD with the name of your startup drive, then press Enter to execute it:
    rm "/Volumes/Macintosh HD/var/db/.applesetupdone."
  6. Follow the prompts to create a new user account.
  7. After signing in to the new account, go to Apple > System Preferences > Users & Groups.
  8. Click the padlock and use your new user password to unlock changes.
  9. Select your original account and enable the Allow user to administer this computer option.
  10. Now sign in to your original account again and delete the new account from the same Users & Groups preferences.
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Enjoy all the new features in macOS Big Sur

You might not be enjoying macOS Big Sur if your password stopped working as soon as you upgraded to it. But trust us, Apple’s new macOS update has a lot of exciting features to offer.

If the troubleshooting steps above helped fix your macOS Big Sur password problems, it’s time for you to learn about all the new features that come with this update. Check out our overview of all the best macOS Big Sur features to get started.

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