How to Enable Root in Terminal on Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

Root access on a Mac allows users to have complete control over the system, enabling them to make changes to essential files and settings that are otherwise restricted. It is a powerful tool that should be used with caution and only by experienced users. Enabling root access in the Terminal is a straightforward process that can be done by following a few simple steps. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to enable root access in Terminal on your Mac, ensuring that you understand the risks involved and providing you with the necessary information to proceed safely.

To enable root access in Terminal, you will need administrative privileges on your Mac. This means that only the administrator or someone with administrative rights can carry out this process. It is important to note that enabling root access exposes your system to potential security risks, as any changes made under the root user can have far-reaching consequences. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise caution and only enable root access temporarily and when absolutely necessary. With that in mind, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide to enable root access in Terminal on your Mac.

Understanding The Concept Of Root Access On A Mac

Root access refers to the highest level of administrative privileges on a Mac operating system. When root access is enabled, the user gains complete control over the system, allowing modifications and changes that are typically restricted to regular users.

With root access, users can access and modify crucial system files, install certain software, and perform advanced system operations that are otherwise restricted. However, root access also carries significant risks, as it bypasses several security mechanisms implemented by the operating system.

Understanding the concept of root access is essential for Mac users who require elevated privileges. It is important to use root access judiciously, as any mistakes or unauthorized actions can have severe consequences, including system instability and data loss.

This article will guide you through the process of enabling root access on a Mac using the Terminal application. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you will gain a better understanding of the risks and benefits associated with root access and how to use it responsibly.

Checking Your Mac’s Current User Privileges And Permissions

Before enabling root access in Terminal on your Mac, it is essential to understand your current user privileges and permissions. This step will help you determine whether you have the necessary authority to enable root access.

To check your user privileges, go to the Apple menu and select “System Preferences.” From there, click on “Users & Groups” and select your user account from the left sidebar. Under your account name, you will find information about your user privileges.

There are three main types of user privileges:

1. Standard: This is the default privilege level, which allows you to perform most tasks but not modify critical system settings.

2. Administrator: This privilege level grants you full control over your Mac, including the ability to modify system settings and install software. But it does not grant root access.

3. Root: The highest level of privileges that provides complete control over the system. Root access should be used with caution as it can make your Mac vulnerable to potential security risks and system instability.

To enable root access, you need to have Administrator privileges. If your account does not have Administrator privileges, you will need to switch to an Administrator account or contact the person with Administrator authority to enable root access for you.

Enabling Root Access Through The Terminal Application

Enabling root access through the Terminal application is a straightforward process that allows you to gain privileged access to your Mac’s operating system. By following a few simple steps, you can unlock the full potential of your device and easily perform tasks that require administrative privileges.

To begin, open the Terminal application on your Mac. You can find it by navigating to Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Once the Terminal window is open, type the command “sudo -i” and press Enter. This command prompts the system to ask for your user password. Enter your password and hit Enter again.

After providing your password, you will notice a change in the Terminal prompt. It should now display your username followed by the “root” user indicator. This indicates that you have successfully enabled root access on your Mac. From this point forward, any command you enter into the Terminal will be executed with root privileges.

It is essential to exercise caution when using root access as it grants you extensive control over your system. Mishandling or incorrectly executing commands can lead to irreversible damage. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the commands you are entering and to double-check them before execution.

Providing The Necessary Authentication And Password For Root Access

When enabling root access through the Terminal application on a Mac, you will be required to provide the necessary authentication and password to ensure secure access. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Open Terminal: Go to Applications, then Utilities, and double-click on Terminal.

2. Enter the command: Type “sudo -i” and press Enter. This command allows you to log in as the root user.

3. Provide your password: When prompted, enter your current user account password. Note that your password won’t be displayed as you type, but rest assured that the system is registering it.

4. Press Enter: After entering your password, press Enter to proceed.

5. Authenticate as root: If the password you provided is correct, you will be logged in as the root user. You will notice the change in the command prompt, which will display the root username and computer name.

By providing the necessary authentication and password, you ensure that only authorized individuals can access and make changes using root privileges. It is important to keep your password secure and only provide it when necessary.

Verifying That Root Access Has Been Successfully Enabled On Your Mac

After following the steps to enable root access on your Mac, it’s important to verify whether the process was successful. Verifying root access ensures that you have gained the necessary privileges and permissions to perform administrative tasks on your system.

To verify root access on your Mac, open the Terminal application once again. Type “sudo su” followed by your password and press enter. If the command prompt changes to a “#” symbol, it indicates that you have successfully accessed root user privileges.

Another way to confirm root access is by executing commands that are typically restricted to administrative users. For example, you can try modifying system files or running system-level commands using sudo. If these operations are successful without any permission errors, it means that root access has been enabled.

Remember, with root access, you hold significant power and responsibility over your Mac. Take the time to understand the potential risks and implications of using root access. Be cautious while making changes to system files, as any wrong move can cause severe damage to your operating system.

Important Considerations And Precautions When Using Root Access On A Mac

Using root access on a Mac provides you with the highest level of privileges and control over your system. However, it is crucial to exercise caution and follow some important considerations and precautions to ensure the security and stability of your system.

1. Use root access sparingly: It is recommended to use root access only when necessary and avoid prolonged usage. This helps minimize the risk of accidental system damage or security breaches.

2. Know the commands: Familiarize yourself with the commands you intend to execute as root. Mistakenly running incorrect commands can have serious consequences, so double-check before executing any command.

3. Disable root access: After completing the desired task, it is crucial to disable root access to prevent unauthorized access and maintain system security. To disable root access, simply revert the changes made to the user account permissions.

4. Secure your Mac: Keep your Mac up to date with the latest software updates and security patches. Additionally, use a reliable antivirus software to prevent any potential threats to your system.

5. Create a backup: Before making any significant changes with root access, always create a backup of your important files and data. This ensures that you have a safety net in case something goes wrong.

By following these considerations and precautions, you can leverage root access effectively and responsibly on your Mac while minimizing the risk of unintended consequences.


1. How do I open Terminal on my Mac?

To open Terminal on your Mac, you can either search for it using Spotlight (Command + Space) or navigate to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

2. What is the “root” user on Mac?

The “root” user is the superuser or administrator account on a Mac. It has complete control and access to all files and settings. Enabling root access should be done with caution as it can provide unrestricted access and may pose security risks.

3. Why would I need to enable root user in Terminal?

Enabling the root user in Terminal can be useful for advanced system administration tasks, troubleshooting, or when you need to access files or perform actions that require administrator privileges beyond what your current user account allows.

4. How do I enable the root user in Terminal?

To enable the root user in Terminal on Mac, you can use the “dsenableroot” command followed by your admin password. Open Terminal, type “dsenableroot” and hit Enter. You will be prompted to set a password for the root user.

5. What precautions should I take when enabling root access?

Enabling root access provides significant privileges, so it’s important to take precautions to protect your Mac. Set a strong and unique password for the root user, use root sparingly for necessary tasks only, and disable root access when you’re done to reduce potential security risks.


In conclusion, enabling root access in Terminal on Mac can be a useful skill for advanced users who require administrative privileges and want greater control over their system. While it comes with a warning, as it can potentially cause damage if not used carefully, it can also open up many possibilities for customization and troubleshooting. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, users can safely and effectively enable root access in Terminal on their Mac, allowing them to perform tasks that are not typically accessible to standard users.

However, it is important to use root access sparingly and exercise caution while performing any administrative tasks. With great power comes great responsibility, and users should be mindful of the potential risks and consequences of making changes to the system as the root user. It is recommended to only enable root access temporarily and revert back to a standard user account when not needed. By doing so, users can harness the benefits of root access while minimizing the chances of any unintended complications or security vulnerabilities.

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