macOS Encryption - FileVault Recovery FAQ

I'm unable to log into my account on a Mac computer that was issued for my primary use.  What do I do?

About macOS username: First, be aware that the log-in username for most Mac computers is your full Middlebury email address. Although the account name is your email address, the account is local to the Mac - thus the password is not updated automatically if you change your email password. If your email address and original Mac password are not working, read on for password reset options.

*Macs distributed prior to 2020 may require your username only, rather than email address. These may be best supported by the helpdesk if connected to Ethernet on the Middlebury or Monterey campuses. Please call the helpdesk for assistance if you believe this may apply to you.

About encryption & recovery:  FileVault encryption protects data on hard drives from prying eyes.  Physical access to a computer without encryption enabled may allow access to private and sensitive data, including data protected by statute.  Recovery is a state sometimes encountered with computers that are encrypted.  Understanding the most common causes and solutions may help you avoid or fix such problems. 

About recovery keys: a FileVault recovery key is a string of letters and numbers.  It may change after being accessed & used one time.  It should NOT be stored with a computer.  It is intended only in case of emergency.  

Recovery causes:  Changes to hardware are the most common reason for a recovery screen to appear.  Try disconnecting all cords and devices from the computer except for power and see if the issue goes away.  Next try reconnecting any hardware that was in use when the computer last booted normally.  Finally, make sure your laptop battery has had time to recharge before trying again.  See documentation links below from Apple for more details. 

Acquiring the recovery key:  Middlebury sets up storage for recovery keys on your behalf.  You will likely require helpdesk staff assistance to retrieve a recovery key for a Mac managed by Middlebury.  Please call us via phone or Zoom, or open a ticket; you will need to provide the Middlebury or MIIS sticker number of the computer and we suggest you be in front of the computer if calling.   

To reset your macOS password: A password reset requires access to another account with Administrator permissions, or more likely access to the FileVault "Recovery Key" for the Mac. First, acquire the recovery key from the helpdesk!

If you've forgotten your Mac login password (Apple guide)

If you can't reset your Mac login password (Apple guide) includes more complex password change options that use macOS Recovery

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Article ID: 573
Fri 2/3/23 10:56 AM
Mon 6/17/24 11:29 AM