Mac OSX: Delete a User Account

Posted October 7, 2005 by Rex in Mac system administration

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).

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  • d


  • Nate Griffin

    Simple, and everything I needed to know. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    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?

  • Pune Grimsley

    woot! thanks.

  • Anonymous

    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 🙂

  • Anonymous Person

    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?

    • ABC

      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.

    • min

      > 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

  • Girolazz


  • Anonymous

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

    • Shortncurly

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

      • Lfettema

        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.

        • richard

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

          • iguana

            > 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.

    • yoda

      it says click the lock to make changes

  • Anonymous

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

  • Anonymous

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

  • Anonymous

    How can I delete my own admin account?

  • Glenn

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

  • Anonymous

    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????

    • Anonymous

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

  • Anonymous

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


    This is very useful tip for beginner’s.

    Thank You Very Much,


  • Roscro

    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

  • Xieoe

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

  • mac

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

  • Talkasey

    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!

  • Vika

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

  • Lee

    simplessss 😀

  • Macvirtus

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

  • Vandal

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

    • turd ferguson

      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?

      • Sir Phit

        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

  • Sir Phit

    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!?!?!?!

  • Jpp4053

    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.

    • Sas

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

  • Ernie

    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.

  • Chazsibo

    what happens if there is no – sign under login options

  • Radicaljacket1953

    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

  • Joe

    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?

  • Joe

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

  • Mike

    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?

    • Zo

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

  • gabi

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

  • Matvey Solovev

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

  • adam

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

  • hassan

    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??

    • Daniel

      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?

  • Hec

    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

  • D

    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)

  • babernathy

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

  • Juan Alcala

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

  • moh

    thanks alot

  • asdf fg

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

  • William Tomlinson

    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?