What is short name?

dlb253

macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 13, 2010
70
0
Arizona
I just bought my very first mac and am going through setup. I notice already that the name appearing under Macintosh HDD does not match the user name I specified during setup?

Is this the short name I've been reading about? Can someone explain to me what the short name is, why it's different than the user name? Also, is the user name the same as the home directory name? I'm confused by all these "names" i've been reading about.

Thanks!
 

mickbab

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2008
1,136
0
Sydney, Australia
The short name is the name used for your home directory. Mine is highlighted on the left in the picture.

By default, when John Smith sets up his Mac, the short name will be set to johnsmith. I changed mine, as you can see in the picture below.

The difference is that the user name (John Smith) is used for logging in and authorisation etc. whilst the short name (johnsmith) is the name for the home directory and some other things probably.

 

dlb253

macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 13, 2010
70
0
Arizona
I found the following on apple's support website, which says the same thing basically:

Each user in Mac OS X has a full "Name" and a "Short Name" as defined in the Users pane of System Preferences. The short name can contain up to 255 lowercase characters with no spaces (or up to 8 character in Mac OS X 10.1.5 or earlier). This is the name used to create a user's home directory (also known as the user's Home or Home folder) in the Users folder.

If you try to change your Short Name in the Accounts (or Users) pane of System Preferences, it may be dimmed and you cannot change it.


But on mine, I only have an "Accounts" pane (not Users) under system preferences, and the short name doesn't even appear at all.

Is there an easy way to change the short name? I haven't even migrated any files over yet...theres nothing on my computer. Would it be easier just to start over from scratch?
 

dlb253

macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 13, 2010
70
0
Arizona
Also off apple support website:

If you really need to change your user account short name and home directory name (which should match), use the advanced procedure described below. Although you can change your Home name in Mac OS X 10.3 or later, you usually shouldn't.

So how would I do a "system restore" so to speak...basically start over and erase everything i've done so far?
 

Hal Itosis

macrumors 6502a
Feb 20, 2010
900
4
Also off apple support website:

If you really need to change your user account short name and home directory name (which should match), use the advanced procedure described below. Although you can change your Home name in Mac OS X 10.3 or later, you usually shouldn't.

So how would I do a "system restore" so to speak...basically start over and erase everything i've done so far?
Please tell me you're not running Panther in 2010.

Different OS versions had different methods. Assuming Leopard (10.5) or later, this is what you should read:

"Changing the short username in Leopard" - by Dan Frakes, Mar 28, 2008
 
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akio63

macrumors newbie
Aug 22, 2018
2
0
Houston
So how can you find the account name in High Sierra? I found a users folder and it has admin, Alex, Shared and the current admin's shortname. However there is Guest user and another user account. That other user account is not showing up unless their shortname is Alex. So if the account name is John Smith, how can I find out the short name for John Smith?
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,493
2,798
Delaware
So how can you find the account name in High Sierra? I found a users folder and it has admin, Alex, Shared and the current admin's shortname. However there is Guest user and another user account. That other user account is not showing up unless their shortname is Alex. So if the account name is John Smith, how can I find out the short name for John Smith?
You will find that account information in your Users & Groups pref pane.
Click on the padlock to unlock that pane, then right-click on the name under Current User (which is the account that you are, well, currently using). Right-clicking that account name will show Advanced Options...
Opening THAT will show you some internal information about your account, such as the Full Name for your account. The Short Name is the name of your home folder, and (I think) is used interchangeably with the Full Name when you would need to authenticate using your account name and password. You normally would not need to enter the user name, as that would normally be provided, so that you know which account you would need for authentication.
So, just to make this short - your account short name is the name of your home folder. The Full Name is listed in your Users & Groups pref pane.
My final thought --- If you don't like your short name (or your Account full name), I suggest that you don't attempt changing it to something else, either while in the Advanced Options window, or any other method. It's really easy to make a mistake (or edit the wrong data), and it can really cause problems. Even something that sounds safe, like renaming your user folder, can leave your system in an apparent shambles. (Did I say that? Don't rename your own home folder, and don't make ANY changes to the Advanced Options, unless you understand the risks, and you know how to back out of that if it causes problems). MUCH SAFER to create a new user account in the Users & Groups pref pane, named as you like it. It will be a new account, where you will be asked to create a password. Log out of your present account, then log in to your newly created account.
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors 604
May 30, 2002
7,450
2,529
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
You will find that account information in your Users & Groups pref pane.
Click on the padlock to unlock that pane, then right-click on the name under Current User (which is the account that you are, well, currently using). Right-clicking that account name will show Advanced Options...
Opening THAT will show you some internal information about your account, such as the Full Name for your account. The Short Name is the name of your home folder, and (I think) is used interchangeably with the Full Name when you would need to authenticate using your account name and password. You normally would not need to enter the user name, as that would normally be provided, so that you know which account you would need for authentication.
So, just to make this short - your account short name is the name of your home folder. The Full Name is listed in your Users & Groups pref pane.
My final thought --- If you don't like your short name (or your Account full name), I suggest that you don't attempt changing it to something else, either while in the Advanced Options window, or any other method. It's really easy to make a mistake (or edit the wrong data), and it can really cause problems. Even something that sounds safe, like renaming your user folder, can leave your system in an apparent shambles. (Did I say that? Don't rename your own home folder, and don't make ANY changes to the Advanced Options, unless you understand the risks, and you know how to back out of that if it causes problems). MUCH SAFER to create a new user account in the Users & Groups pref pane, named as you like it. It will be a new account, where you will be asked to create a password. Log out of your present account, then log in to your newly created account.

I bit of caution and anecdotal piece of commentary here ...

If @akio63 is unable to find where the Shortname is listed then maybe, it’s not a good idea to point out where that should be? This took me a few hours to find and I feel I’m tech savvy in windows , but I too messed up the ShortName and AccountName (High Sierra) on my MBP so I’m very cautious.

Does anyone know of a correct way of modifying each for this current OS and others correctly? Seems on Apple’s documentation (public) is limited and quite possible for a reason.

PS: yes his tread dates back to 2010 but the topic is still relevant.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,493
2,798
Delaware
Apple's support page about that - https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201548
(still has the possibility of problems with user permissions, which is why you really need to understand what you are doing when changing the user account login information.)

Most long-time posters suggest that the best method (and same tip since early on in OS X) is to create a new user account, with the correct names that you want to use.
 
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