Mac OS X: Adding User Account Aliases

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So your family has one Mac that you all share. You’re the administrator, and the kids have a standard account. When you install Software Updates, say, on your admin account, all you have to type in is your password. But every time you need to authorize something under the kids’ name (like when one of them would like to add a new program), you have to enter your administrator name along with the password. 

Since you weren’t warned of this when you were setting up your Mac, you may get sick of typing in “J. P. McGillicuddy, Master of the Universe” every time. Curse your account-name creativity! There is a way, though, to add aliases to your account, so instead of the moniker above, you could just type in “jp” or whatever works for you. Or if you administer a number of machines, you could add a common alias to all of them. That way, you don’t have to try to guess if the account name should be Workstation1 or WorkstationOne or Workstation_1 while you’re cursing the old IT guy under your breath.

So let’s walk through this together. First of all, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups. (For those of you who haven’t jumped aboard the Lion Train yet, you’ll go to System Preferences > Accounts.) Click the lock in the lower-left corner to unlock the window, and then enter your administrator name and password when you’re asked to do so.

The next step is to right- or Control-click on the account you want to add an alias to and select Advanced Options.

Be very careful about changing any settings within the following window except for the aliases. As Mac OS X is kind enough to point out, doing so could damage your user account, which is really, really bad juju if you enjoy things like being able to log in.

Since we can safely add an alias, though, click the plus button as shown above to create one, and you’ll be prompted to type in the name you want.

You can add as many as you please, so if it suits your fancy, continue putting ’em in there.

Click OK, and you’re done! If you find that your new alias isn’t working, reboot your machine to force the change. In my testing, though, I haven’t needed to do that. 

From now on, instead of typing in the super-long name you thought was necessary when you configured your Mac, you can use your alias, too. Makes letting the kids do stuff much simpler, doesn’t it? Assuming you like letting the kids do stuff, that is.

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Wow, I had know idea that you could do that. Excellent tip that I will be using shortly.


What are those other not so easy aliases already in that field? I have seven - including my .mac and .me accounts.

Also…perhaps for another column…Will I have to live with this .me account for the rest of my life as a Mac user? My main account is .mac - used for iTunes and iCloud.


Melissa, thanks for this. Who’da Thunk It…


But when you set up your mac you also chose a short name (your home directory name or “Account Name” in that screenshot) which also can be used as the username rather than the full name. In your case, its melissa which surely is just as easy as “ezname”. Most people I know use their initials for their account name which is even shorter.

Melissa Holt

Thanks for the kind words, dmuzzy and furbies! smile

cjpitt, I’m not quite sure what some of those aliases represent (and perhaps someone who knows can chime in?). I, too, have some weird aliases, including a hexadecimal one that looks like my UUID but isn’t. I bet those aliases have something to do with identifying our accounts to either the machine or to Apple, though.

As for the @mac/@me thing, I think you’re pretty much stuck with it. As I’m sure you know, Apple isn’t even giving out new @mac addresses, and you’re only allowed to still use that for your account because you were grandfathered in. I wouldn’t worry about it, though?there’s no reason to give that @me address out if you don’t want to use it!

Melissa Holt

Hi zebrum,

In my particular case, you’re right?I don’t really have a need to add a shorter alias. But I’ve worked with a lot of people who put their first name/last name combo in as their short name (e.g., “jameswilliamson”) and get frustrated with having to type in something that long, especially if they don’t work under their admin account most of the time.

Thanks for reading!



Hopefully this topic isn’t too old to get a response smile

The iCloud/ aliases in user accounts actually allows something that many users do not know about & could be worth investigating & explaining…

You can sign in with your Apple ID & Apple Password & use that to reset the user account password. It authenticates with Apple instead of the local ‘users directory’.

It is a great feature, but also a worry when users have lousy Apple passwords (some people seem to think ‘I don’t care about the online stuff, I never use it’).

It would be worth investigating to see how Apples 2 step auth effects it & how to disable it entirely.

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