How to Delete an Account on Your Mac

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

After you create one or more accounts on your Mac, you may want to delete an old or unused account. When you delete an account, your Mac gives you the option of retaining the account’s Home folder, which may contain important files. To delete an account, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that the account you want to delete is logged out and also that you’re logged in to your Administrator account.

  2. Choose Command→System Preferences, and then click the Users & Groups icon or click the Fast User Switching menulet and choose Users & Groups Preferences, as shown in this figure.

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    If the lock icon in the lower-left corner of the preferences window is locked, click to unlock it, and then type your password in the dialog that appears. Press Return to unlock your Mac’s user account details.

  3. Select the account you want to delete in the accounts list and then click the Delete Account (–) button in the lower-left corner of the list.

    A confirmation dialog appears, asking whether you really want to delete this account and presenting options to save the Home folder of the account, as shown in the following figure. Select one of the following radio buttons:

    • Save the Home Folder in a Disk Image: Saves the home folder and its contents in a compressed disk image (DMG) file. This keeps the files compressed, so they take up less space on the hard drive than if you choose the next option (which does not compress the files contained in the Home folder).

      Choosing this option is like stuffing things in an attic to get them out of sight but still keeping them around in case you need them later.

    • Don’t Change the Home Folder: Keeps the Home folder and its contents exactly as they are before you delete the account, so you can browse through the files contained within the folder at any time.

    • Delete the Home Folder: Wipes out any files the user may have created in the account. Click the check box next to Erase Home Folder Securely to encrypt the files when they’re erased, making them irretrievable.

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  4. Click Delete User.

    Your Mac deletes the specified account.