Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

Started 4 months ago | Questions
2nd Wind Regular Member • Posts: 491
Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

A few months ago when I started up my 2017 iMac instead of the usual sign-in window only a guest option is shown, never my passworded sign-in . Well fine but I've never set up a guest password, and never have since my first Mac in 1984!

So the problem is I cannot login because I'm asked to enter the guest password which I never had. For the past couple months I've worked around most of this issue by booting from an external drive. The internal iMac drive seems fine and image shows up and all data and most apps will run from it with exception to a couple.

I could just leave it as is, reformat the internal drive & reinstall the software but I run an older OS High Sierra to facilitate older software like Adobe CS 6 and several photo editing apps which only were able to run after a series of workaround which I do not want to deal with for many reasons.

I want to fix this as I've never had an issue which I couldn't resolve and I've exhausted about everything I've known to do. Among the things were:

Repairing the HD

Starting up in recovery mode.

Resetting everything thats resettable on my iMac.

and many others.

I posted on Apple forums and got one proposed solution from one of the Apple gurus who has a level gazillion and obviously knows a few things but... His solution is a 20 step process involving a complex Terminal entry fix. I've used Terminal many times in the 37 years I've used Macs but never one this complex. I asked the guru if a wrong entry could adversely affect  my mac he said YES! It could render it useless!

Ok, so I decided to sit on that for a while and because I can use my computer for the most part, I thought I'd see if a less potentially lethal solution is available. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks!

ANSWER:
Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,166
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.
4

I would suggest the following, preferably after booting from the external drive and using a utility like Carbon Copy Cloner to make a complete backup of the internal drive on another (spare) external drive.

1. Boot up in single-user mode. Try to list all "regular" users by typing in the command dscl . list /Users | grep -v "^_"

I don't know if this works in single-user mode, but the objective is simply to check if the machine still has an entry for your Admin account. In my case, the output is

daemon
Guest
nobody
root
tnewton

2. If you see your Admin user name in the list, try doing a passwd yourusername to reset the account password.

3. You could also try doing a dscl . read /Users/yourusername IsHidden to see if by some remote chance you intentionally hid the account from Finder view.  I get "No such key: IsHidden" (good) and presume that if there was a key with value 0, it would also be good.

4. If the account is hidden, you could try doing a dscl . create /Users/yourusername IsHidden 0

5. If you don't see an Admin user name in the list, you may need to use CLI commands to create a new Admin account.  My main concern here would be permissions; the new Admin account probably would not have the same internal numeric user ID as the old (mysteriously disappeared) one; and maybe not the same name, which might complicate efforts to access any account-specific preference and data files on the internal drive.  If the old Admin user name is gone, it is also possible that whatever deleted the account also deleted the associated user directory (and data).

However, if you can recover or create an Admin account, you shouldn't need to reinstall the operating system or applications.

https://sterlingit.com.au/how-to-create-a-user-or-admin-user-in-osx-apple-mac-via-terminal-commands-in-9-simple-steps/

https://osxdaily.com/2016/07/05/list-user-accounts-command-line-mac/

https://osxdaily.com/2015/02/01/hide-specific-user-account-mac-os-x/

OP 2nd Wind Regular Member • Posts: 491
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

Thanks Tom, should I use the cloned drive to initiate your solution?

Thanks

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,166
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.
1

2nd Wind wrote:

Thanks Tom, should I use the cloned drive to initiate your solution?

Thanks

If you want to be extra cautious, you could try to restore / create an Admin account on the clone backup first. Then if it works, I guess that you could clone the backup back to the internal drive.

jeffnles1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,756
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

I'm puzzled why or how your guest account got assigned a password.

On a wild crazy hunch, have you tried your normal password?

Jeff

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OP 2nd Wind Regular Member • Posts: 491
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.
1

jeffnles1 wrote:

I'm puzzled why or how your guest account got assigned a password.

On a wild crazy hunch, have you tried your normal password?

Jeff

As a user of Mac's for almost 40 years I've never had this issue before. Beyond the inability to sign in, there is only a guest login option. It's like the usual administrator/user option was deleted.

Yes, I've tried every password I've can remember using the past 40 years.

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,166
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.
1

Are you sure that you didn't select "Display login window as (*) Name and password" in the Login Options section of Users & Groups Preferences?

If you did this, the login screen would not display any names at all – not even the Guest name.  It would expect you to enter a user name and password.  The user name would not be the long one displayed here (e.g., "Thomas Newton").  It would be the short one that you see when you do a "ls /Users" from the single-user startup shell prompt.

But you would be able to log in to your administrator account (it would still be there) – and once in, you could go into Users & Groups Preferences, click on the lock icon to authenticate, then change the preferences in Login Items back to "List of users" if that was what you preferred.

OP 2nd Wind Regular Member • Posts: 491
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

Tom_N wrote:

Are you sure that you didn't select "Display login window as (*) Name and password" in the Login Options section of Users & Groups Preferences?

If you did this, the login screen would not display any names at all – not even the Guest name. It would expect you to enter a user name and password. The user name would not be the long one displayed here (e.g., "Thomas Newton"). It would be the short one that you see when you do a "ls /Users" from the single-user startup shell prompt.

But you would be able to log in to your administrator account (it would still be there) – and once in, you could go into Users & Groups Preferences, click on the lock icon to authenticate, then change the preferences in Login Items back to "List of users" if that was what you preferred.

The only login option that shows is Guest. Because it seems theres a password required for guest I cannot login to check or change anything least of which are Login options.

I would never change my Login settings. Whatever happened to create this issue is beyond me.

I ordered a new SSD drive which I had planned to buy to run a newer OSX and check compatibility with some software I use. I'll Clone the problem internal drive and try some of your suggested fixes.

CAcreeks
CAcreeks Forum Pro • Posts: 17,125
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

Tom_N wrote:

Are you sure that you didn't select "Display login window as (*) Name and password" in the Login Options section of Users & Groups Preferences?

If you did this, the login screen would not display any names at all – not even the Guest name. It would expect you to enter a user name and password. The user name would not be the long one displayed here (e.g., "Thomas Newton"). It would be the short one that you see when you do a "ls /Users" from the single-user startup shell prompt.

But you would be able to log in to your administrator account (it would still be there) – and once in, you could go into Users & Groups Preferences, click on the lock icon to authenticate, then change the preferences in Login Items back to "List of users" if that was what you preferred.

Hmm... what happens when a standard user account is created with the name Guest? That might be what occurred.

Not that it's relevant here, but Linux Mint apparently stole the idea of guest login account.

https://www.technipages.com/linux-mint-allow-guest-sessions

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,166
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

CAcreeks wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

Are you sure that you didn't select "Display login window as (*) Name and password" in the Login Options section of Users & Groups Preferences?

If you did this, the login screen would not display any names at all – not even the Guest name. It would expect you to enter a user name and password. The user name would not be the long one displayed here (e.g., "Thomas Newton"). It would be the short one that you see when you do a "ls /Users" from the single-user startup shell prompt.

But you would be able to log in to your administrator account (it would still be there) – and once in, you could go into Users & Groups Preferences, click on the lock icon to authenticate, then change the preferences in Login Items back to "List of users" if that was what you preferred.

Hmm... what happens when a standard user account is created with the name Guest? That might be what occurred.

Good question.  I'm pretty sure that Mac OS X did not originally have a "magic" Guest account that automatically wiped all of the data in the account whenever someone logged out.  Someone who started with something like Snow Leopard might have created an entirely ordinary user account called "Guest."  What would happen if they then upgraded to a version of Mac OS X with the magic behavior?

That still leaves the question of why the OP sees the Guest account on the login screen, but does not see the user/Admin account.  If he never changed any of the login options (or sharing options?) at all, why did the Admin account get hidden and/or deleted?

JPAlbert Senior Member • Posts: 1,084
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.
3

Here's the solution to your problem.
I GUARANTEE that this will solve it.

First, print out this message and keep it for reference. You're going to need it.

OK, this involves several steps, so let's get going.

1. Boot from your external drive. Get to the finder.

2. Download the app called "easyfind":
https://www.devontechnologies.com/apps/freeware
It's small and FREE to use. A great little app.

3. Open EasyFind. Set it up like this:
Search for - files and folders
Operator - phrase
Comparison - ignore case
Include - invisible files and folders

4. Now, enter in the search box
AppleSetupDone

5. Just below the search box is a popup menu that lets you select WHERE the search will take place.
Select your INTERNAL drive.

6. Now click the small magnifying glass on the right.

7. Easyfind should find it (probably the only "hit" you get).
Now, we need to go where that file is and DELETE IT.
(remember that it's invisible, read on)

8. Click on the line that has the ".AppleSetupDone" ONE TIME to select it.

9. Now, RIGHT CLICK (or control-click) on it and choose "Reveal in Finder". A finder window should open (for the directory "db")

10. But wait! You can't SEE the file, because it's invisible, right?
So do this: Hold down the command and shift keys and touch the "period" key.
This makes invisible files VISIBLE.

11. You should now see the file ".AppleSetupDone" (btw, the period at the beginning of the name is what makes it invisible).

12. Now, drag this to the trash. The finder will want your password to do this, but after you enter it, the file should end up in the trash. Does it?

13. If so, EMPTY THE TRASH.

14. Hit command-shift-period one more time to make invisible files invisible again.

15. Now, POWER OFF THE MAC. ALL THE WAY OFF.
DISCONNECT the external drive and any other drives.

Before you press the power on button, a lesson:
When you first take a brand-new Mac out of the box and press the power on button for the first time, a special setup app runs which gets you going (the first screen that says, "choose your language", etc.).
This lets you create a new account, get other stuff like iCloud and email set up, etc.
Once you do these things, the setup app creates the special invisible file called ".AppleSetupDone" -- and when you boot the Mac every time afterwards, this file prevents the setup app from running.

BUT... We've just deleted the setup app file, so the very next time you press the power-on button, the OS is going to think you're starting over, and present the setup app again.
This will let you create a new user account with administrative privileges.
Once this is done, you can "go on from there".

IMPORTANT:
Doing this DOES NOT HARM any existing accounts or data.
All it does is make the setup app run again.
So... don't be afraid of doing this.

OK, now it's time to press the power-on button and see what happens next.
IMPORTANT:
Be sure to choose the username that you're sure you want.

All this sounds complicated, but it's easy.

Please give this a try.
Again, I bet it solves your problem when none of those other techie guys could!

jeffnles1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,756
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

2nd Wind wrote:

jeffnles1 wrote:

I'm puzzled why or how your guest account got assigned a password.

On a wild crazy hunch, have you tried your normal password?

Jeff

As a user of Mac's for almost 40 years I've never had this issue before. Beyond the inability to sign in, there is only a guest login option. It's like the usual administrator/user option was deleted.

Yes, I've tried every password I've can remember using the past 40 years.

That's a strange one for sure.  Hope you get it figured out.  Please do share with us when you do.  I'm interested to learn what happened.

Jeff

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Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,166
Re: Guest sign-in only but never had a password.

2nd Wind wrote:

Yes, I've tried every password I've can remember using the past 40 years.

Once you tried enough wrong passwords, the system may have gone into a state where it would not accept any password – correct or incorrect – for a long time.

That's a standard security precaution to try keep criminals from guessing weak passwords by simply trying, e.g., one dictionary word after another, as fast as their own computers can make automated login attempts.

OP 2nd Wind Regular Member • Posts: 491
Re: Abolutely brilliant!
3

JPAlbert, Absolutely brilliant and amazingly simple! Thank you very much!!! Took no more than a few minutes including D/L the app. Up and running again with internal drive. New normal login options.

Can't thank you enough!

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