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If you are running your video editing system with multiple OS X users, you may run into a scenario where you need to grab something from another user’s desktop.  This sounds easy, but the built in permissions of OS X will prohibit you from accessing another user’s desktop. Even with administrator rights, you still will not be able to access another user’s home folder.


If you are like me, you store all sorts of things on your desktop while editing.  For myself,  the desktop is one of my primary workspaces.  I’m always moving items to and from my desktop while editing.  Because of this, I’ve developed a habit of using the shared folder a bit more frequently.  The shared folder is a common area where all users can freely access material. 

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but imagine if you need to grab an element from another user’s desktop, and you do not have their password.  Worse yet, what if that particular employee or contractor is no longer around?.  You now have no way of logging into their OS X account to retrieve the material.

Fortunately, there is another work-around.  You can enable the Mac OS X root user account, which will allow you to access all the files and folders from another OS X user. The root user account is also referred to as a ‘super user’, since it provides unlimited privileges.  Better yet, until a root user account is enabled, any account with administrator privileges can enable it.

Here are the steps to enable the root user account for Mac OS X.

Navigate to the Mac OS X system preferences, and click on the Accounts.  Set the following:

Unlock the dialog box to make changes
Turn off Automatic Login
Change ‘Display login window as:’ to Name and Password

Click on the Join button next to Network Account Server. 


Another dialog box will appear.  Click on the Open Directory Utility button. 


This will open the directory utility dialog box. 


Navigate to the edit menu, and select enable root user. 


You will be asked to specify a password.  Log off your system. 


You’ll now notice that all the fancy login icons have disappeared.  You’re now presented with a simple screen that requires a username and password.  To log into the root user account, the username is ‘root’.


That’s it, you’ll now have unlimited access to all the files on folders on your drive.

Warning:  As a root user, there are no built-in safeguards when it comes to deleting critical system files. Be careful when deleting or moving files that may be required for the operating system to function properly.  Only one root user is allowed, so do not forget the password.

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