HELP! I’ve forgotten my administrator password – 10.7

If you have forgotten the passwords to any of your accounts on a mac then you can reset them by following these instructions

Reboot your Mac and hold down ALT

When it shows all available drives, choose the Recovery HD, if you have set a firmware password, then you will need to enter that before getting to the available drives

When booted into the Recovery HD, click on Utilities and then choose Terminal

When the Terminal window opens, type the following


A new window will open, click on your System Drive and you will then be able to select any available account on that drive and reset the password for it

Please be aware that you will not gain access to the keychain for that account, so if you are after information saved in that keychain then you won’t be able to get it. 

Spotlight – Enable/Disable

I’m a big fan of spotlight on a Mac, but there are those out there who aren’t, if you happen to be one of them then this next bit is for you, you can disable spotlight by doing the following

Open Terminal and type the following

sudo nano /etc/hostconfig

locate the following item


Change it so it now reads


Press CTRL-X, then press Y, then press ENTER to save the file

Now to disable indexing type the following into Terminal

sudo mdutil -i off /

to erase the current index type the following into Terminal

sudo mdutil -E /

And thats that, Spotlight is now disabled, but if you realise that you have made a terrible mistake then don’t despair, you can enable spotlight again by basically reversing the work you’ve just done

so, in Terminal type

sudo nano /etc/hostconfig

locate the following item


Change it so it now reads


Now to enable indexing type the following into Terminal

sudo mdutil -i on /

and there you have it, a fully working spotlight

Format an external hard drive to use with Macs & PCs

Now occasionally Mac users are forced to share files with Windows users, and if using an external hard drive you will need to make sure it is readable/writable in both OS’s

To do this, you will need to format the drive as FAT, this can be done with Disk Utility as follows
1. Plug your USB Drive into the Mac
2. Open Disk Utility
3. Click on your hard drive on the left and then click on the Partition tab in the middle window
4. Click on the drop down menu under Partition Layout and choose 1 partition (or more if you wish)
5. On the right hand side choose MS-DOS (FAT) from the Format menu and give it a name
6. Click Options underneath the partition window and choose Master Boot Record and click OK
7. Click Apply, and the partitioning will proceed, once this is done then you will have a FAT formatted hard drive and the ability to use the drive with both Mac & Windows machines

How do you wipe an old MacBook Air?

So, I was asked this the other day, and it can be quite tricky, basically, you need to boot from an installation disk and run Disk Utility to erase the disk.

Now as the MacBook Air doesn’t have FireWire then Target Disk Mode is pretty much out of the question (although this is now an option on Thunderbolt equipped MacBook Airs), so we will have to either try a remote disk option, or boot from USB.

In this guide I will run through the steps required to complete this task using a bootable USB key, but if you wish to go the Remote Disk option then more info can be found on Apples Support Site at

For this you will need

  1. An 8GB USB key or Hard Drive (or larger)
  2. A Retail Operating System Disk
  3. A Mac with a Superdrive

Ok, so first of all if you have any data on the USB key, make a backup of any data you have on your USB key

On your Superdrive equipped Mac, insert your Operating System Disk & USB key and open Disk Utility

In Disk Utility, click on the OS Disk and then click on the ‘New Image’ icon at the top of the window, pick a name and save it to your Desktop

Once the image is created it will appear in the left hand window of Disk Utility, click on it and then click on ‘Images’ in the menu bar at the top of the screen and choose ‘Scan Image for Restore’

Once that has verified your image, click on your USB key in the left hand window and and choose the ‘Restore’ tab in the main window.

Next drag the image you created to the ‘Source’ field and drag the USB key to the ‘Destination’ field, tick the box that says ‘Erase Destination’ and click on ‘Restore’.

This will erase your USB key and replace it with the contents of your image, so all of the files on the OS disk will be transferred to the USB key, with the end result being a bootable USB key

Once this has completed, eject the USB key and plug it in to your MacBook Air and hold down the ALT key whilst powering it on, you should be presented with the option to boot from the hard drive or the USB key, if you have set a firmware password though you will need to enter this to gain access to the boot menu

When you have booted from the USB key it will vary depending on which OS you have created it from, but usually you will have to agree to a license agreement to get to the pre installation screen, at the top of the screen you should see a Utilities menu, you must click on this and run Disk Utility.

When you are in Disk Utility click on the hard drive you wish to erase, then click on the erase tab, you can then choose which type of deletion you require, I would choose the highest security option, which involves multiple passes of the hard drive, but this can take several days depending on hard drive size, if you don’t have the time then choose a lower security option, but remember more secure = many hours = less chance of data being recovered.

Dealing with Directory Corruption

If your Mac is running slow, there is a chance that you could be suffering from Directory Corruption, to find out if you are the you will need to do the following

Open Disk Utility and click on your system volume, then choose Verify Disk

If all is well then it will tell you with the following notification

Verifying volume “Macintosh HD
Checking file systemPerforming live verification.
Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume.
Checking extents overflow file.
Checking catalog file.
Checking multi-linked files.
Checking catalog hierarchy.
Checking extended attributes file.
Checking volume bitmap.
Checking volume information.
The volume Macintosh HD appears to be OK.

If you get any other message, usually in red, then you will need to repair your disk, you can’t normally do this from within the Operating System, so you will need to boot from an external device, or if you are running lion then you can boot to the Recovery HD

Once you have booted from another drive you will have the option of running Repair Disk on the affected drive

If it still cannot repair the corruption then you will need to use another utility, I’d recommend DiskWarrior, it’s just under $100 but it can be invaluable in recovering a system affected by corruption, and if you were to take it into a shop then they would probably charge you more than that to resolve this anyway.

This uses a different method of repair by collecting data from the system and rebuilding the directory structure, there are warnings that it could result in data loss, and as with any kind of system repair there is always a risk of some data being lost, but I have used this program 12 times over the past 8 years and its worked 100%.