Why Using Just Your User Password Isn't Enough

Why you should consider setting a Firmware password

Ask the average Mac user what a Firmware password is and the usual response is a raised eyebrow and a shrug of the shoulder, yet is this something that more people should know about?

What is a Firmware password?

A firmware password allows us to lock the firmware on a Mac computer so that it will only boot to the default startup disk on the computer – typically the hard drive. Any combination of startup key commands will then be disabled or will prompt you to type the password in before continuing.

Why is this a good idea?

Many users don’t realise it but it is incredibly simple to reset a users password in Lion or gain access to the hard drive by other means. Quite simply, a couple of minutes with an unattended computer can be more than enough to gain access to it.

So how do I set a Firmware password?

Well in Lion this is quite straight forward, just take the following 4 steps.

  1. Turn on your computer while holding down the ‘Command’ + ‘R’ keys to boot to Lion Recovery.
  2. Once booted, select the Utilities option in the top menu bar and choose ‘Firmware Password Utility’
  3. Enter your Firmware Password.
  4. Restart your Mac

The key thing now is to NOT LOSE YOUR FIRMWARE PASSWORD!. In order to remove it or boot to anything other than the hard drive, you will now require your password.
If you do forget it, only an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Service Provider such as Amsys will be able to remove this for you.
Note – Amsys is not responsible for any issues with your computer or the forgetting of your Firmware password if you follow the above steps. Use at your own risk!