Mac OSX: Delete a User Account

Deleting a user account is neat and clean with Mac OS X. This tech-recipe describes the procedure and consequences of deleting a user.


To delete a user with Mac OS X, click System Preferences, and then click Accounts. Next, select the user to delete. Click on the minus sign under the Login Options button, authenticating as the administrator if needed.

When a user is deleted in this manner, the contents of the user’s directories are stored in a disk image (/Users/Deleted Users/userid.dmg). This file can be deleted (by an administrator) or kept (just in case).

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

56 Responses to “Mac OSX: Delete a User Account”

  1. January 04, 2009 at 2:21 am, d said:

    thanks!!

    Reply

  2. January 21, 2009 at 1:28 am, Nate Griffin said:

    Simple, and everything I needed to know. Thanks!

    Reply

  3. February 19, 2009 at 10:41 am, Anonymous said:

    Wow, that was certainly easy? My comment is I went looking for the “Deleted Users” directory before I tried this procedure. There was none to be found. It gets created once you perform the above actions.
    My question is: Can you restore this deleted users account from the disk image it creates?

    Reply

  4. March 06, 2009 at 5:59 pm, Pune Grimsley said:

    woot! thanks.

    Reply

  5. August 12, 2009 at 9:32 pm, Anonymous said:

    when i switch my apple g4 on i dont get the option to select user (even though i set it all up to show them etc.). All that happens is that it shows a page to select a language and then once i select english it logs straight into system administrator. Does anyone know why this is happening and why once I am logged in as system administrator I can not log back out, switch user or even shut down the computer (nothing happens). I can use the internet and change some settings but that is all.

    Im new to apples and do not know what to do.

    Facts: Computer was bought second hand, I dont have any discs, also I had to reset passwords in command and then delete user account in system administrator account.

    Help would be much appreciated. Thanks all :)

    Reply

  6. September 12, 2009 at 7:34 pm, Anonymous Person said:

    can you delete an account from the account itself? like, if you’re logged on to the account, can you click the minus button, delete the saved files, and then log off and the account will be gone?

    Reply

    • September 25, 2009 at 7:18 am, ABC said:

      Hi, no you can’t. But you can create another admin account and do it from there. Of course, one admin has to remain for the machine.

      Reply

    • July 05, 2012 at 9:52 am, min said:

      > Sure you can. Open the Guest user and then allow this user to log in to the mac
      then u will want to log in Guest user and use the same method to delete admin account
      After that disable Guest user from log in to your mac

      Reply

  7. January 03, 2010 at 9:56 pm, Girolazz said:

    100%

    Reply

  8. February 03, 2010 at 8:53 pm, Anonymous said:

    My mac will not let me select the minus button what ahould i do?

    Reply

    • January 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm, Shortncurly said:

      most likely, you need to click the lock and authenticate your identity before you can select the minus sign

      Reply

      • February 03, 2011 at 4:06 pm, Lfettema said:

        I clicked the lock and authorized changes, and it still wont let me select the minus button for either of my accounts. I’m signed into my account, which says admin underneath it, and i’m trying to delete my guest account.

        Reply

        • June 15, 2012 at 5:25 am, richard said:

          im having the same problem.. did you figure it our?>

          Reply

          • June 17, 2012 at 12:58 am, iguana said:

            > I had the same problem (I couldn’t click on the “minus” sign) and I discovered it was because I had to log out from the account I wanted to erase, then log back into the admin account, and only then I was able to click on the “minus” sign and erase the account.

    • October 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm, yoda said:

      it says click the lock to make changes

      Reply

  9. February 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm, Anonymous said:

    i need help i cant install limewire i download it but i cant install it in my mac

    Reply

  10. February 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm, Anonymous said:

    i need help i cant install limewire in my mac i download it but i cant install it can someone help me.

    Reply

  11. April 01, 2010 at 12:09 am, Anonymous said:

    How can I delete my own admin account?

    Reply

  12. April 05, 2010 at 9:03 pm, Glenn said:

    Create a new one. Log on as that user. Delete the old account.

    Reply

  13. April 07, 2010 at 10:58 am, Anonymous said:

    I have tried deleting accounts but it wont allow me to click on or select the account I want to deletet even after i put in the adminstrators password. Any advice????

    Reply

    • May 07, 2010 at 12:50 pm, Anonymous said:

      you must be logged out of any account that you wish to delete.

      Reply

  14. April 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm, Anonymous said:

    THX I tried for a long time to delete my admin. account before returning it back to the school.

    Reply

  15. May 25, 2010 at 6:43 am, SACHIN said:

    This is very useful tip for beginner’s.

    Thank You Very Much,

    SACHIN

    Reply

  16. June 11, 2010 at 6:49 pm, Roscro said:

    I bought a second hand Mac and cannot access to make changes because the previous owner did not erace his name as an administor. Can someone help me please

    Reply

  17. September 17, 2010 at 3:17 am, Xieoe said:

    i like this too…very easy apple should have put delete not a stupid minus sign

    Reply

  18. October 06, 2010 at 12:16 pm, mac said:

    Thank you. Quite nice, add a user to admin, log in and delete the first. Oh, MAC doesn’t do stupid things.

    Reply

  19. October 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm, Talkasey said:

    The rogue user doesn’t show up here to be deleted! I see the user account every time I try to save or open a document under “places.” I can’t just ignore it, it’s my ex!

    Reply

  20. January 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm, Vika said:

    I hav moved user folder to trash – is there a way to copy it back to /users?

    Reply

  21. January 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm, Lee said:

    simplessss :D

    Reply

  22. January 30, 2011 at 11:45 am, Macvirtus said:

    And how can I recover a deleted user that was accidentally deleted with the “Delete inmediately” option?

    Reply

  23. February 07, 2011 at 6:22 pm, Vandal said:

    I also need to know how to recover/restore a deleted user – please help :) yikes.

    Reply

    • February 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm, turd ferguson said:

      I have two accounts on my mac mini (snow leopard) one account has some programs from app store but these dont show up on the othe raccount do I just delete and redownload when logged in as the other account?

      Reply

      • March 11, 2011 at 2:27 am, Sir Phit said:

        use an external harddrive or a thumb drive to transfer them form one account to the other
        the other option is u can click on something so u can share between user accounts(public folder drop box for example also works i think for transfering files between users)
        i’m no expert tho as my question shall clearly state

        Reply

  24. March 11, 2011 at 2:30 am, Sir Phit said:

    ok well i had 2 admin user accounts and have been trying to remove the one.
    i have taken away admin rights
    however even after loggin in and out of the account i want to remove(as it told me i had to to make it set in that i had removed admin powers)
    now thing is i can’t delete that account at all!
    if i log into it and go to the preferences pain and unlock it i dont get the minus buton, adn if i’m in my main account i cant even highlight that specific user so there fore i cant click the minus and make it go away
    i want it gone! it did it’s job and has finished it’s job now i want it to go away.
    please help me!?!?!?!

    Reply

  25. March 13, 2011 at 3:05 am, Jpp4053 said:

    Answer to query never found. Standard (?) User Account grayed out-unable to delete. Went through all “Delete” steps without success. This Standard User Account remains grayed out along with the – (minus,delete) symbol. Extremely frustrating.

    Reply

    • March 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm, Sas said:

      Did you click on the lock below and now it shows a lock unlocked?

      Reply

  26. April 24, 2011 at 11:27 pm, Ernie said:

    I deleted users on my Mac, but still say’s I only have 59 gigs available and i cannot find /Users/Deleted Users/userid.dmg file anywhere please help.

    Reply

  27. July 26, 2011 at 10:51 am, Chazsibo said:

    what happens if there is no – sign under login options

    Reply

  28. July 31, 2011 at 7:31 am, Radicaljacket1953 said:

    Having trouble deleting an old account with iTunes. Have software to download, but is attached to an old mac account. How can i cancel the old account, without compromising my new account. They inform me that I have multiple accounts. Such a blow on OS X Lion

    Reply

  29. January 26, 2012 at 10:25 am, Joe said:

    I did this but it’s taking ages to delete the account. It says “Deleting Account…” under the account I’m trying to delete, and has done for around 20 minutes. Any idea on how long this will take?

    Reply

  30. January 26, 2012 at 10:27 am, Joe said:

    Ultimate fail… Just as a posted that last comment it finished deleting. (LOL)

    Reply

  31. January 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm, Mike said:

    Well, like Joe, I’ve been waiting over 30 minutes for a small (300Mb) account to be deleted. It’s terribly slow.

    Waiting waiting waiting… Did Jim Morrison have a premonition of this process?

    Reply

    • June 15, 2012 at 3:27 am, Zo said:

      > Hello, My laptop has been deleting a user account for almost 12 hrs now. Is that normal? Thank you.

      Reply

  32. April 03, 2012 at 3:54 pm, gabi said:

    i deleted the acct but i can’t find the (/Users/Deleted Users/userid.dmg) by searching in finder..

    Reply

  33. May 09, 2012 at 10:43 am, Matvey Solovev said:

    what if my users and accounts doesn’t work? It comes up with,’couldn’t load users and groups preference window.’

    Reply

  34. June 01, 2012 at 3:43 pm, adam said:

    how can i remove an administrators account if i don’t know any password?

    Reply

  35. July 09, 2012 at 9:22 pm, hassan said:

    hey i have fallowed you steps on my iMac 27″ and it says deleting account under only thing is its been like that for the past 5 hours and it won’t let me shut down restart until system preferences has been closed which i can’tis it supposed to take this much time??

    Reply

    • August 20, 2012 at 10:48 pm, Daniel said:

      I have this same problem but it has been like it for 24 hours. It won’t let me restart or shut down. The profile is large (around 80GB) but should it take this long and how do I stop it?

      Reply

  36. August 24, 2012 at 9:52 am, Hec said:

    When I started my accounts in my MAC, we were tow people ussing the account. So I set it up as ADMIN. Later I decided to make an extra user and made it a ADMIN too.
    When I try to access or change or delete files created by the first user, it asks me a password.

    Here comes the question:
    If I delete the first user, what happens with the protocol of OS in regards to passaword concerning files originaly created by the first user??

    Thanks for helping out

    Reply

  37. October 01, 2012 at 11:19 am, D said:

    I have my admin account and an ex GF user account I have followed these instructions and Delete User wont show to click. There is no minus sign under login options button. (emac 0S X)

    Reply

  38. October 12, 2012 at 12:50 am, babernathy said:

    I did this twice…both times, after 12 hours, a window popped up “unable to delete the user account…” Why?

    Reply

  39. February 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm, Juan Alcala said:

    what if the minus sign cannot be clicked on? my computer isn’t letting me click it

    Reply

  40. March 31, 2013 at 2:03 am, moh said:

    thanks alot

    Reply

  41. November 06, 2013 at 5:07 am, asdf fg said:

    what if it has a check next to it? what does that mean

    Reply

  42. January 01, 2014 at 11:11 am, William Tomlinson said:

    First of all, there is no “Accounts” tab when I go to System Preferences. There is “Users and Groups”, which has essentially the same contents.
    Secondly, even having unlocked the system I cannot select and delete the account. It won’t select, and the minus sign won’t function. Can anyone tell me what’s wrong?
    Thanks

    Reply

Leave a Reply