Enable Root User Access in Mac OS X


Enable Root User Access, in Mac OS X, this is something that is rarely needed. However, as you become more and more familiar with Mac OS X, you’ll start to find functions and commands, only the Root User has permission to execute or run. When you need these functions or commands, you’ll need to these Enable Root User Access, instructions.

Enable Root User Access in Mac OS X - Terminal

I recently needed to make a bootable thumb drive, to install Debian 7, on a server. To do this, I gave the most recent version of UNetbootin, for Mac OS X, a try. Their process seemed pretty straight forward. However, I later discovered, there is quite a bit more to it than UNetbootin (and other help websites) would have you believe.

While it took several attempts to get a working, bootable, thumb drive, the hardest part of actual process, was the commands run in the Terminal. Every command I tried to run, gave me an error. The errors were all the same. I didn’t have permission to run those commands.

Enable Root User Access in Mac OS X – Important notes

Apple’s support website, gave me some insight as to how to get this done. Their directions have not been updated for OS X Mountain Lion, but the viability of their “Important notes” are still very applicable.

  • Only the owner of a computer or its designated administrator(s) should have an administrator account or the root password.
  • Any user with an administrator account can become the root user or reset the root password.
  • A root password should be difficult to guess, containing both numbers and letters within the first eight characters.
  • A root user has the ability to access other users’ files.
  • The root user has the ability to relocate or remove required system files and to introduce new files in locations that are protected from other users.

None of this concerned me, so I was ready to “Get ‘R Done!”

Enable Root User Access in Mac OS X

Here are the steps to Enable Root User Access, in Mac OS X – Mountain Lion:

  1. From the Apple menu choose System Preferences.
  2. From the View menu choose Users & Groups.
  3. Select your User Account (if your account is an administrator account).
  4. Click the Lock Icon (lock and authenticate) in the lower left corner.
  5. Type in your administrator password if/when prompted.
  6. Click on the “Unlock” button.
  7. Click Login Options (the little house below the user list).
  8. Click the “Join” button (or “Edit” button, in some circumstances), at the bottom right (to the right of Network Account Server).
  9. Click the “Open Directory Utility” button, at the bottom left of the, now visible, drawer.
  10. Click the Lock Icon (lock and authenticate) in the lower left corner, of the Directory Utility Window.
  11. Click the lock in the Directory Utility window.
  12. Type in your administrator password if/when prompted.
  13. Click on the “Modify Configuration” button.
  14. Go to the “Edit” menu.
  15. Click on the “Enable Root User” option.
  16. Enter the password you wish to use, for the “Root User” in both the Password and Verify fields.
  17. Click on the “Ok” button.

I recommend, re-locking all the “Lock Icons” which you unlocked, for security purposes.

Our goal, to Enable Root User Access, in Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, has now been accomplished.

You may not be creating a bootable thumb drive, but my guess is, as you become more and more of a “Power” User, in Mac OS X, you’ll need these steps.

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