Root user is a special user account on your Mac that allows you to modify the system files that were not available to you before. What this means is you can have full control over all the functions of your machine. While this may help advanced users to do their tasks, most beginners just should not use it. Apple knows it very well, and that is why the account comes disabled by default. However, you can enable it and perform your tasks, if you wish.
There are actually two ways to enable root user on a Mac. The first method makes use of Terminal and the second one uses GUI to help you enable the root user on your machine. Here’s how you can use both of them:
1. Enabling the Root User using Terminal
Fire-up Terminal on your Mac. To do that, click on Launchpad in your dock and search for and click on “Terminal.” It will launch on your machine.
Type in the following command into the Terminal Window and press Enter. It is the command that helps you enable the root user account on your Mac.
It should then ask you to input your current user password. Just type in your password and press Enter.
You will now be asked to enter a password for the root user account. Make sure to choose a strong password for this account as it has more privileges than any other accounts on your Mac.
You will need to enter the same root password again to confirm you typed it correctly in the first prompt.
Once it is done, you should see a message that says “Successfully enabled root user”.
As you may have already guessed, the root user account is now enabled on your machine and you can start using it right away to accomplish your tasks that can’t be done with a normal user account.
Disabling the Root User using Terminal
If you are done with your tasks and wish to disable the root user account as it is of no use anymore, you can do so using the following steps.
Launch Terminal from the Launchpad on your Mac.
Type in the following command into the Terminal Window and press Enter. It is for disabling the root user on a Mac.
You will be asked to enter your current user account password. Do so and press Enter.
You should see a message saying “Successfully disabled root user”.
The root user account is now disabled on your Mac.
2. Enabling the Root User using GUI
If you prefer using GUI rather than Terminal, here’s how you can enable the root user that way:
While on your desktop, click on “Go” followed by “Go to Folder…”.It lets you quickly jump to a specific directory on your Mac.
When it launches, type in the following path into the box and click on “Go.” You should be taken to that directory on your machine. That directory is where the tool to enable the root user is located.
When the directory launches, find the tool that says “Directory Utility” and double click on it to launch it.
You must first unlock the opened tool to be able to make any changes. To do that, click on the Lock icon in the panel and enter your user account password. Then, click on “Modify Configuration.” You should now be able to make changes in this tool.
Click on “Edit” followed by “Enable Root User.” It is the option that allows you to enable the root user account on your Mac.
You should now be asked to enter a password for the root user account. Enter any password that you think is strong and click on “OK.” It will save the settings for you.
And you are done.
The root user is now enabled with your chosen password and is ready for use.
To disable the root user using GUI, click on “Edit” followed by “Disable Root User”.
Every Mac comes with a user account called Root User that allows users to access and modify system files and to troubleshoot any issues. The guide above helps you to enable this hidden account and get more privileges than your ordinary user account on your Mac.