Mac: Locked firmware password and you didn’t set one. Or did you?

I recently had a pretty major problem on my mac.

The ‘Master Firmware Password’ appeared to have been set on my new Macbook Pro, but I don’t remember ever setting one. The firmware lock prevents you from choosing boot up options like holding down ‘alt’ to select a startup disc, or using cmd-R to enter recovery mode.

I hit a problem when my Bootcamp installation become corrupt. Windows 7 wouldn’t start and I couldn’t get it to boot off the recovery USB stick that I made. So I thought, no problem, we can just boot back to OS X. But that’s when the problem started.

Because for whatever reason I had the firmware lock, it wouldn’t let me choose OS X as the startup disc. My Mac was effectively bricked. Stuck on the Windows 7 side, which itself didn’t work. It would not boot OS X, and holding down the alt key sent me to a grey screen with a giant padlock and a password box.

I couldn’t for the life of me remember setting a password. It was a brand new machine (a few months old) so it seemed odd to have a firmware password set, when it is usually turned off by default. After reading pages and pages of forum posts from the Apple support website and endless googling, I stumbled upon the answer: Find My Mac.

I will now give you my solution: When I first got the laptop, I setup ‘Find My Mac’ as most people do. Months ago I tried to test a ‘remote lock’ of the mac from the website. I expected a remote lock to prevent user access in the OS, a bit like the iPhone lock screen. To my dissapointment the lock function didn’t seem to work, nothing happened on my screen, and it just seemed to have failed. I completely forgot about this, until now.

You see, when you do a ‘lock my mac’ from that website, it turns out some sort of bug (or maybe it’s meant to do this, I don’t know?) actually locks the FIRMWARE password of the mac, using the password you entered on the website as the firmware lock password.

So to solve the problem, all I had to do was remember what the password I entered into the ‘Find My Mac’ website was all those months ago. Thankfully it turned out to be ‘1111’.

So if you find your mac’s firmware has suddenly become locked, the password might well be one you entered into the ‘Find My Mac’ website to lock the device. It will save you a lot of time and messing about with visiting an Apple Store to try and reset the password.

14 thoughts on “Mac: Locked firmware password and you didn’t set one. Or did you?

  1. thank you 4 this article. i hav the same issues with my mac but don’t remember setting any password hellllllpppp!!!!!

  2. Had the same issue – when trying to repair my disk using the recovery partition (holding cmd+R on restart), I was presented with the padlock and a password box. I tried all kinds of passwords to no avail. Until I stumbled across another post citing ‘Find My iPhone’ remote lock feature as the culprit.

    Entering the 4-digit passcode worked, and after the initial internet recovery, I was able to access the Firmware Password Utility to turn off the annoying prompt once and for all. Who would have thought using the remote lock activates the firmware password?

    Tried the same procedure today, and it seems like Apple fixed the bug – remote lock works as advertised, and the firmware password doesn’t get turned on secretly.

    Had I seen this post earlier, I’d have saved hours pruning through dozens of blogposts related to firmware password. Thanks for the info!

  3. Thank you for your article, I spent hours trying to figure out why it was asking for a password after not setting one. You saved me a 1 hour train ride to the Apple store and countless hours of fretting over a bricked. I had the exact same issue as you even down to the corrupt windows install.

  4. I’m glad my post helped you!
    It was so frustrating for me as well, as I was also considering where my nearest apple store was. Thank god for google!

  5. Hey, so i locked my Mac via The find my iPhone app and it says my Mac can only be locked if it’s connected to the internet but my Mac is stuck on that screen with the padlock I don’t now to to get out if it

  6. Thank you so much i have spent hours trying to figure this out. In the end I locked my mac in find my iPhone and then unlocked it and it let me into the recovery mode.

  7. I vaguely remember setting my password with “find my mac.” I think i typed in a four digit number, but i’m not sure. Does anyone know if the password is a 4 digit number, or can it be any combination of numbers, characters, or symbols? Is it also only a four digits?

  8. Today I wanted to try out the lock function to my MacMini. Locked the Mini from iCloud.com with a 8 digit code.

    The Mini shut down and open with a grey screen with apple logo (https://discussions.apple.com/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/2-22615201-279793/mac-mini+009.JPG)
    But I was only able to type in 6 digits. I tried with the first 6, the last 6 and the six in the middle of the 8 digits I chose at the “lock down”.

    Now there is also set a Firmware password which i can not get by.

    Anyone ever tried something like that??

  9. Hi
    I remotely locked my MacBook via Find my iPhone. Can get past the firmware password with my 6 digit code.When I choose to boot from hard drive or USB OSX installer I get a Your computer is disabled. Try again in 60 minutes. After waiting 60 minutes all I get is a Wrong Pass, please try again error. Please help

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