Accessing a Locked-Up Computer

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

A reader, who prefers to go nameless, managed to lock herself out of her computer by, um, changing the permissions on her boot disk. Dead in the water. The OS won’t even boot.

(After the obligatory screaming and yelling, we both agreed that this was a bad way to start the day…)

Anyway, here’s how she fixed the problem.

I thought – hmmm what can I do to outfox this…hmmmm.


I tethered the laptop to another computer by connecting them via FireWire and rebooted the locked-up computer while pressing the letter T during startup.


The locked-up computer showed up on my other computer as a hard disk.


Clicked Command+i on the system folder and got the info screen.


Changed the permissions in the system folder on my laptop back to where they should be and shut down both systems.


Rebooted and here I am




The moral of the story is – don’t lose your laptop because ANYONE CAN ACCESS IT!

Larry adds: The FireWire tethering is a great trick that I often forget. And you are correct, if you lose your hard disk, someone else can access it.


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