How to Run Terminal as Root on Mac

Nicholas Russell
By Nicholas Russell 10 Min Read
10 Min Read

Hey there! Today, I want to chat with you about a cool trick that makes life a bit easier when you’re the boss of the Terminal—yeah, I’m talking about becoming the root user!

So, imagine you’re in Terminal land, typing away commands like a wizard. Sometimes, you need that extra power, that magic wand—enter the sudo command. It’s like shouting, “Hey, I need to do something super important here, give me the boss’s permission!”

Now, what if I told you there’s a slicker way to become the boss temporarily? Instead of constantly yelling “sudo” before every command, just type this magic spell:

Boom! You’ve just switched into boss mode. No need to keep asking for permission every single time.

You might be wondering, “Nicholas, why should I bother being the boss?” Well, when you’ve got a bunch of important tasks lined up, being the root user can save you from command fatigue. It’s like having a shortcut to power.

So, here’s the deal. If you’ve got a ton of commands and tasks that demand the boss’s attention, running Terminal as root is the way to go. It’s like being in charge without all the extra typing.

If you’re curious and want the full scoop on running Terminal like a boss, I’ve got more details coming your way. Keep reading, and I’ll spill the beans on this trick and another way to make your Terminal sessions even more awesome. Ready for some Terminal magic? Let’s go!

Switch to Root User

Alright, fellow Terminal explorers, buckle up! I’m here to guide you through the nifty process of switching to the root user. It’s like getting the VIP pass to Terminal town. Ready? Let’s roll!

Step 1 – Gateway to Terminal Land

First things first, fire up the Terminal application. You can do this in your own cool way—click, tap, whatever floats your boat.

Step 2 – Casting the Spell

Now, let’s cast the magic spell to become the boss. Type the following command:

sudo -s

Hit that “return” key like you mean it!

Step 3 – Secret Password Handshake

Ah, the gateway requires a secret handshake! You’ll be asked for your password, the same one you use to log into your Mac. Make sure it’s the one with the VIP access, meaning you should have administrator permissions.

Type it in, hit “return,” and you’re in!

Step 4 – You’re the Boss Now!

Look at that prompt! It probably has a # symbol, indicating you’re the root user. If it’s feeling shy and not showing up, no worries. You can double-check by using this command:


Step 5 – Mission Accomplished, Now Exit

Boss duties done? Great! Let’s wrap it up. To exit the root user throne, type:


And hit “return.” You’re back to being a regular Terminal wizard.

That’s it, my friends! You’ve just unlocked the power to become the boss in Terminal town. Go forth and conquer those commands! If you’re hungry for more Terminal wisdom, keep reading—I’ve got some extra tricks up my sleeve.

Logging In as the Root User

So, you’ve mastered the art of switching to the root user. But what if I told you there’s another level? Brace yourselves, because we’re about to dive into logging in as the root user. It’s like getting the golden key to the secret root chamber. Intrigued? Let’s unravel the magic!

Switching vs. Logging In

Before we jump into the new trick, let’s talk shop. Switching to the root user and logging in as the root user are cousins, not twins. When you switch, you get the VIP badge, but when you log in, you get the whole VIP suite—complete with the fancy settings.

The Grand Entrance Command

To make this grand entrance into root user paradise, use this command:

sudo su - root

Oh, and don’t forget the secret password handshake. Type it in and hit “return.” You’re now logging in as the root user.

Spot the Differences

Take a peek at the new prompt. It’s got that # symbol, just like before, but it’s missing some flair. The color scheme and the current directory display? Gone! Why? Because now, you’re playing by the root’s rules, using their environment variables.

Explorer in the Root’s Domain

And if you glance at the current directory, surprise! You’re now in the root’s home turf, not where you originally set up camp.

Remember, this extra step might not matter to everyone, but in certain quests, it can make all the difference. So, whether you’re a casual Terminal traveler or a seasoned command-line explorer, keep these tricks in your back pocket. Who knows when they might come in handy on your Terminal adventures? Keep reading for more nuggets of wisdom!


And there you have it, fellow tech enthusiasts and aspiring wizards of the Terminal! We’ve embarked on a journey through the realms of root users and command-line prowess. From the basic switcheroo to the grand login as the almighty root, we’ve explored the keys to unlock Terminal’s hidden potential.

Whether you’re a casual Terminal stroller or a seasoned adventurer seeking command-line glory, these tricks are your trusty companions. The choice between switching and logging in might seem subtle, but in the vast landscape of Terminal quests, it can make all the difference.

As we wrap up this Terminal tale, remember that the command line is your haven. Embrace the power to switch or log in as the root user when the need arises. Mastering these tricks not only streamlines your journey but also adds a touch of magic to your Terminal adventures.

But wait, there’s more! The Terminal is a treasure trove, and we’ve only scratched the surface. Stay curious, keep exploring, and who knows what other secrets you might uncover in the ever-expanding world of command lines.

So, fellow Terminal travelers, go forth with your newfound knowledge, and may your commands be swift and your tasks triumphant! Until next time, happy coding and may the Terminal be ever in your favor! 🚀


Why should I bother becoming the root user in Terminal?

Becoming the root user grants you elevated permissions, making it easier to execute multiple commands or tasks without constantly using the ‘sudo’ command. It’s like having a backstage pass to the inner workings of your system.

What’s the difference between switching and logging in as the root user?

Switching to the root user gives you the permissions, but logging in provides the full suite, including different environment variables. It might not matter for every task, but in certain scenarios, this distinction can be crucial.

Can I switch back to my regular user after becoming the root user?

Absolutely! To return to your regular user status, simply type ‘exit’ and hit ‘return.’ It’s like stepping out of the root user shoes and back into your comfortable, everyday ones.

Are there any risks associated with being the root user?

Yes, with great power comes great responsibility. Being the root user gives you significant control, so exercise caution to avoid unintended consequences. Only perform tasks that you understand and are necessary.

How can I check if I’m the root user after switching or logging in?

To confirm your root status, type ‘id’ and hit ‘return.’ If you see the # symbol in the prompt, congratulations, you’re the root user! It’s like a secret handshake confirming your VIP access.

Can I use these commands on any operating system?

The commands demonstrated here, like ‘sudo’ and ‘sudo su – root,’ are commonly used in Unix-based systems like macOS and Linux. If you’re using a different operating system, the commands might vary, so always check the documentation specific to your system.

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