Every user in OS X has two account names. The first is your Full Name and the second is your Account Name. Your Full Name is the name you log in with and the one you see any time you enter your password when you make system changes.
Your Account Name however is the name you see when you look at your home folder. Basically it’s the name of your machine, of which your Full Name is a user.
While it’s pretty simple to change your Full Name, there’s no clear-cut way of changing your Short username. Updating your Home folder name is a little more complex and worthy of it’s own tutorial. For now, here’s how to change your short username in OS X Mavericks.
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There can be many reasons you’d want to change your short username for your Mac. Maybe you need to fit inline with an office naming schema, or maybe like me, you decided to update all your machine names to follow a nerdy schema of your own, like for instance, the Battlestar Galactica universe. Or maybe you just let your Mac name itself when you set it up originally.
Whatever the case may be, sometimes change can be a good thing. It’s worth mentioning that before getting into any of this that you back up your Mac, ideally with Time Machine. Don’t skip this step. If you haven’t backed up today, go do it right now then come back.
Ok, with your system backed up, there are two ways to accomplish the task at hand. First, you can give yourself an alias that can speed up login and password typing and second, you can actually change your short username.
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You can give yourself an account alias that is easy to type and can be placed on every Mac you use, no matter what your username or full name are listed as. This doesn’t change the name of your home folder or your account, but gives you an easier way of logging in.
To give yourself an account alias in OS X Mavericks open up System Preferences and click on Users & Groups. Next, click the lock icon in the bottom left corner and enter an administrator password. Once the lock is unlocked, right-click on your account in the list and select Advanced Options.
Here, click the + button at the bottom of the window and type in the alias you want to use. You’ll need to restart your Mac for the change to take place. Don’t change ANYTHING else in this window unless you feel like restoring your Mac today.
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The downside to using account aliases is that while you get a quicker login name to use, shares and other items still use your original name. This is fine for many users, but if you actually want your login name changed, it takes a few more steps.
Note: Before you get started, make sure Automatic Login is disabled until you’re done changing names.
You actually need to be logged in as someone other than the user you’re trying to change, so your best bet is to log in as the root account. Check out this post on instructions on enabling the root account in OS X. Make sure the account you want to change is completely logged off and you’re using the root account before moving forward.
The next step is to open the Users & Groups pane in System Preferences. And unlock the lock icon in the bottom corner. Right-click on the account you want to change the name for and select Advanced Options.
In the Account Name field remove the current short username and enter your new one. Make sure to change NOTHING else on this screen and that you’re doing this to an account you’re not currently logged in to.
Click OK and restart your Mac. Upon restart you can log in using your new short username, as your old one will no longer work.
This method will change your short username, which is the username you see when logging in and entering your administrator password for apps. This still doesn’t change your home folder name. That process is a post in of itself and comes with quite a few issues, so it’s worth covering that one all by itself.
For now however, the important items like your login name are updated and you even have an alias you can use if you’d like.