How to give and take admin rights from another OS X user account

By , Jul 6, 2016

OS_X_users_icon

In some rare scenarios, you as the computer administrator may want to actually promote an existing basic OS X user account to an administrator account, or vice-versa.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how you can upgrade a user account’s privileges to administrator rights, and we’ll also go through the steps to strip an account of its administrator rights.

Why to promote or demote Mac user accounts

If you’re managing a network of computers for a school or institution, then it may be required to give teachers or other employees administrator access to a Mac so they have the same privileges you do to get things done when you’re not on your shift.

Likewise, even if you’re not doing this for a business setting, you might want to do this if you’re a parent and are trying to promote the rights of another user account for your significant other. This will give them the same access rights to the Mac as you would have and can make it so the both of you can better manage your children’s time on the computer.

On the other hand, you might not even be looking to promote someone; perhaps you will want to demote an account because someone’s abusing their powers and changing settings or deleting stuff from the Mac when they shouldn’t be. In this case, you would need to put a stop to it for the safety of your company’s information or to keep someone on your personal computer from damaging something and putting your personal data at risk.

There are an array of reasons for why knowing how to do this is important, so we’ll get right into it.

How to promote an OS X user account

If you’re trying to promote a basic OS X user to an administrator so they can do more on the computer without having to ask you for your password, then you can follow these steps:

1) Open the System Preferences app on your Mac and open the Users & Groups preferences pane.

Users and Groups Mac System Preferences

2) Click on the Lock button at the bottom of the preferences pane to unlock the settings.

OS X Click the lock to make changes

3) Enter your own administrator password when prompted by OS X, then click on the blue Unlock button to unlock the settings:

Create admin account on Mac Unlock after entering password

4) Select the user account you want to promote to an administrator.

Select User Account From Sidebar

5) With the standard user account selected, put a check mark in the Allow user to administer this computer checkbox.

Allow user to administer this computer

Note: The sidebar should now display the user as an “Admin” instead of as a “Standard” user.

6) Click on the Lock button again to save and lock your changes.

That’s all there is to it. You’ve just given a basic user account administrator access over your Mac.

How to demote an OS X administrator

If you have someone abusing their powers and changing things on your Mac that they aren’t supposed to be, you can also demote an administrator account back to a standard user so that they have to wait for your approval to make major system changes.

To do this, follow these steps:

1) Open the System Preferences app on your Mac and launch the Users & Groups preferences pane.

os x troubleshooting tutorial users & groups

2) Now you’ll click on the Lock button at the bottom of the pane to unlock it so you can make changes:

Click the Lock button to make changes to admin accounts

3) Now enter your administrator password and then click on the blue Unlock button to authorize changes:

Create admin account on Mac Unlock after entering password

4) Now you’ll want to select the administrator account you wish to demote back to a regular user from the sidebar:

Select Admin Account From Sidebar

5) Click on the Allow user to administer this computer checkbox to remove the existing check mark from the box.

Remove Administator Rights From User Account Mac

Note: The “Admin” status in the sidebar for the selected account has changed to “Standard” after removing the administration rights.

6) Now click on the Lock button again to save and lock your changes.

And that’s all there is to demoting an admin user on your Mac back to a standard user.

Wrapping up

Whether you need to give someone more rights as a user on your Mac, or fewer rights, your Mac has all the settings you need to ensure everyone has the power to do what they need to while maintaining your security.

Please do keep in mind that if you choose to make someone else an administrator on your Mac, they’ll have all the same rights as you, so only give responsible people this power or else you might end up regretting it later on.

Depending on whether you’re working for an institution that uses Macs, or if you’re a household full of Mac users, this is a good bit of information to know so everyone can get their jobs or duties done without restrictions.

Also read:

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  • Andre Gironda

    If you find yourself without admin rights but regular user rights on an OS X desktop or laptop, then all you have to do is reboot, Option+S, login (if FVDE is enabled), remount the filesystem with `mount -o uw /`, and `rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone`

    After another reboot, the removed file will cause the Apple OS X Setup Assistant to be rerun, thus allowing the local non-administrator user to create a separate administrator user. Then you can use that administrator account to reenable your other accounts that need administrator. Thus, demoting an administrator has no actual security effect — it’s merely temporary.