Apple is making it increasingly difficult to mess with macOS system files. This is true whether you intentionally want to extend the functionality of macOS or a malicious third party tries to install and activate a virus.
However, many system components and all Apple and third-party applications rely on preferences and other files to store your personalized settings, caches for work in progress, and other data. If these files are corrupted, macOS may work just fine, but you can’t do anything in an app or in your account.
Once you’ve troubleshoot your Mac in your account which doesn’t seem to improve things, the next big step before reinstalling macOS is to set up a new macOS user account. From this account, you can test hardware, such as your Wi-Fi or Ethernet adapter; add printers and scanners; or running third-party software that keeps crashing on launch.
Since a new account usually doesn’t contain anything that’s already corrupted, you can determine if a problem is with your day-to-day user account or a system-wide problem, perhaps even hardware-related.
How to create a new macOS user account
Here’s how to set up a new user account in Ventura:
- Go to System Parameters > Users and groups.
- Click it Add an account button.
- Enter your password if prompted.
Here’s how to set up a new user account in Monterey and earlier versions of macOS:
- Go to System Preferences > Users and groups.
- Click the lock icon and enter your administrator password.
- Click the + sign in the lower left corner of the user list.
Then, after these first three steps in any version of macOS:
- Choose to create a Standard or Administrator account (see below). Give it a name, password, and hint, then click Create.
- Choose > Log out [name].
- On the login screen, select the new account, enter the password and click the arrow to login.
When creating the account, what type should it be?
- Create a standard account if you want to test an issue from a user’s perspective without any additional privileges.
- Create an administrator if this is your normal account type – that’s typical – and you’re trying to do an apples-to-apples comparison.
Once the account is created, you can log into it to see if your problem persists. For example, if you can’t get a Wi-Fi adapter to appear in your regular account, this new one should have a new set of adapters that represent all of the hardware recognized by your Mac. It should pull them into the System Preferences > Network (Monterey or earlier) or System Settings > Network View (Ventura) pane. If Wi-Fi doesn’t show up as an adapter in the list, it’s likely a hardware issue, though reinstalling macOS is the next step before a repair shop just in case.
How to delete a macOS user account
When you have debugged your problem, you can get rid of the account. You must be logged in with an administrator account to do this. (Warning! These steps are irreversible. Choose “Do not change home folder” to keep it.)
In Monterey in step 3 above, click the – sign in the lower left corner, choose “Delete home folder”, click Delete Userand validate.
In Ventura, go to System Parameters > Users and groupsclick on the i info button next to the account, click on Delete accountenter your administrator password, then click Open. Now select “Delete Home Folder”, click Delete accountand validate.
Ask for Mac 911
We’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions, along with answers and column links: read our awesome FAQ to see if your question is covered. Otherwise, we are always looking for new problems to solve! Email yours to [email protected], including screenshots if available and if you want your full name used. Not all questions will be answered, we don’t respond to emails, and we can’t provide direct troubleshooting advice.