Help, can't figure something out

lenberman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 3, 2017
17
0
Santee, CA
I bought a used iMac 20" and I am not a Mac user. I want to install Linux Mint for my teenage daughter. I went to youtube and found the instructions but when I try, it asks for a password which I don't have. How do I get past this. The lady who sold it to me gave me a list of possible passwords but none works. Please help, It's a beautiful computer and I don't want it to go to waste.
Len
 

lenberman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 3, 2017
17
0
Santee, CA
Thanks for your reply. It just asks for a password, I don't know which password, the lady that sold it to me didn't have a password. I can open fully boot the computer and it will run and go to sites. It's a fully functioning Mac. I thought if I can make a bootable from the ISO maybe I can load it from the disk and then install it from there, like on Windows. I really not sure.
Len
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,347
934
Baltimore, Maryland
Thanks for your reply. It just asks for a password, I don't know which password, the lady that sold it to me didn't have a password. I can open fully boot the computer and it will run and go to sites. It's a fully functioning Mac. I thought if I can make a bootable from the ISO maybe I can load it from the disk and then install it from there, like on Windows. I really not sure.
Len
So the computer boots into this lady's user account? Is her name on the right-hand side of the top menu when you're running it?
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,347
934
Baltimore, Maryland
OK. Everything seems normal then. It's just that to perform certain actions on the Mac you have to enter the Admin account password.

I'd say for your security (and hers) you should do a complete reinstallation.

Post the model type here so that we can give you proper instructions. You can get it by going to the upper left Apple () menu and selecting "About The Mac".
 

lenberman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 3, 2017
17
0
Santee, CA
iMac 9.1
[doublepost=1499113234][/doublepost]Thanks for your help, I'm very good with Windows, in fact, I teach computer use to Seniors, but I'm lost on a Mac
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,347
934
Baltimore, Maryland
Trouble!...unless the previous owner gave you the installation DVDs that came with it. 10.6.8 systems don't have a "recovery partition" into which you could boot, wipe and reinstall.

DVDs?

Do you have another computer on which you could make that Linux USB installer?
 

lenberman

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 3, 2017
17
0
Santee, CA
No installation disk. I tried to put Cloudready and make it a chromebook but that didn't go well when ran into a snag with the install
 

flyinmac

macrumors 68040
Sep 2, 2006
3,582
2,408
United States
You need to find a bootable disk. Either Linux, Windows, or OS X.

If the Mac has a DVD drive insert the disk immediately after you hit the power button and then press and hold the Letter "C" on the keyboard. It should boot from the DVD.

If that doesn't work, leave the DVD in the drive and turn the computer off and back on again and press and hold the "option" key until a menu appears. Then select your bootable DVD from the menu.

Once booted, format the hard drive and install your new operating system.

That will fix your problem if it is OS X asking for your password when it boots.

If the password is in firmware (before it boots the operating system), then you probably have nothing to do without involving an Apple service center.
 

iMac-Do-You?

macrumors member
Oct 28, 2014
61
48
Brexitland
When, *exactly* is it asking for this password? On a website? In a program? During trying to install Linux? You'll have to be more specific with the steps you are taking that lead to it asking for a password.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,347
934
Baltimore, Maryland
He has stated that he's using the prior owner's account. Apparently, "Automatic login" is set to that account but he can do nothing that requires an administrator password during the operation of the iMac.

OP: have you ever installed Linux on any computer at all?
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,526
2,299
Delaware
If the password is the firmware password (with a blank box and padlock), then --- as you have a 2009 iMac, you are in some luck, as you can turn off that firmware password (reset it) without too much difficulty.
The firmware password will prevent booting to ANY other system, not just OS X systems. Linux boot CDs would be blocked, too.

(This will absolutely work to get your iMac to boot to another disk, assuming that the problem is a firmware password)

Turn your iMac off, unplug from power.
(Here's the important step that is your clue!) Open the RAM door, and remove ONE RAM stick (make sure you still have one stick installed)
https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+20-Inch+EMC+2266+RAM+Replacement/908
Plug power cord back in. Make sure your mouse and keyboard are ready.
Reset the PRAM: Press and release the power button, and immediately press and hold Option-Command-P & R
You will hear a boot chime sound. Continue to hold the same 4 keys until you hear the boot chime two more times, then release the keys to let your iMac boot up normally.
When it finishes booting, do a shut down, and reinstall that one RAM stick.
The firmware password is now reset.
And, that will then allow you to boot to the installer, so you can get that iMac erased, install Linux or whatever works for you.

This reset used to be on the edge of being unethical on this site, but your Mac is old enough already, and it is now unusual to offer these steps. The newer Macs (after mid 2011, I think (?)) will not reset without a trip to an Apple Store, and providing proof of ownership. Most times users are SOL if the password is lost.
 
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macflint

macrumors newbie
Jun 21, 2017
11
1
Canberra, AU
I bought a used iMac 20" and I am not a Mac user. I want to install Linux Mint for my teenage daughter. I went to youtube and found the instructions but when I try, it asks for a password which I don't have. How do I get past this. The lady who sold it to me gave me a list of possible passwords but none works. Please help, It's a beautiful computer and I don't want it to go to waste.
Len
I have the same iMac running Linux Mint (works great and fast for an old machine). Forget about the password stuff - I created a bootable USB on another computer - there are many sites explaining how to do this on linux, OSX and Windows (eg. https://www.computersnyou.com/2803/create-bootable-live-usb-linux-mint-16-petra-windows-linux-mac/). Insert the USB in your iMac and reboot while holding down the option key. You can then choose to boot from the USB. You will get a Linux Mint desktop with an "Install Mint" icon. Click that and install. Done.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,526
2,299
Delaware
If OP has a firmware password, you can try any installer method that you want.
Any attempt to boot to a different system partition or alternate drive/USB/Firewire/CD/DVD/whatever, none of that makes a difference - You can't choose another boot drive from the boot picker screen, if the firmware password is lost.
It's easy to reset (and disable the firmware password), but the OP has to do that reset first.
 
Last edited:

Floris

macrumors 68020
Sep 7, 2007
2,381
1,451
Netherlands
10.6 dvd's can still be purchased legit from ebay etc, they're like $15 to $30 with shipping.
You can upgrade to el capitan from 10.6.8.

ANYWAY, there's an easy way to reset the firmware pass, Reboot the Mac and hold down Command+R to enter recovery mode-- At the Utilities screen, go to the Utilities menu bar item and choose “Firmware Password Utility” Select to turn the Firmware Password to OFF, it will tell you if it was successful.

A hard version where you physically remove ram and stuff, .. hehe http://osxdaily.com/2009/10/19/bypass-mac-firmware-password/
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,526
2,299
Delaware
10.6 dvd's can still be purchased legit from ebay etc, they're like $15 to $30 with shipping.
You can upgrade to el capitan from 10.6.8.

ANYWAY, there's an easy way to reset the firmware pass, Reboot the Mac and hold down Command+R to enter recovery mode-- At the Utilities screen, go to the Utilities menu bar item and choose “Firmware Password Utility” Select to turn the Firmware Password to OFF, it will tell you if it was successful.

A hard version where you physically remove ram and stuff, .. hehe http://osxdaily.com/2009/10/19/bypass-mac-firmware-password/
You can also still order a Snow Leopard installer direct from Apple online.
The OP has Snow Leopard already, so there is no Recovery system.
For that reason, OP would need to boot to a Snow Leopard DVD (or other OS X installer drive or partition) but, without the firmware password, can't do that either.