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Mac login window tricks, Part 2: Add a custom welcome message

Mac login window tricks, Part 2: Add a custom welcome message

Number two in our 4-part series about tweaking your Mac’s login window focuses on setting up a special greeting of your choice. Although it might seem trivial at first, adding a few lines of text to the login screen can serve a number of purposes.

Have you ever wanted to say something when you or someone else first turns on your Mac? A humorous quote to brighten up your day? Perhaps a terrifying threat to hunt down the person who might be snooping around your laptop? Or maybe a less accusatory statement with simple return information in case your Mac gets lost or stolen? Whatever your preference, adding a custom welcome message to the login window is something just about everyone should take advantage of.

Let’s say you’re a college student and you’re constantly dragging your MacBook around campus to class, the library, friends’ dorm rooms, etc. One day, that precious hunk of aluminum goes missing! It turns up eventually, but how does the person who found it know where to return it to? If you had added a block of text to your Mac’s login screen with your name and contact information, you’d have it back in no time. The best way to demonstrate exactly what I mean is to try it out for yourself!

In Terminal (Applications > Utilities), copy & paste the following command:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText “If you’re reading this, I’m probably freaking out trying to find my Mac. Please return it to me at…”

Obviously, this is only an example of what you could write. You can replace anything within the quotes with your own custom message, so the sky is the limit! As is my norm, I’ll explain in detail what each part of this Terminal command means.

Tells Terminal to execute the command through the root user. The root user is the system administrator account.

defaults write /Library/Preferences/
Specifies we’re going to be editing the preferences file called “” located in the Library directory.

The particular setting in the aforementioned preference file we’re looking to change. This parameter holds the text string we’re about to enter.

Remember to replace the part of the command in quotes with your choice of text, then press Enter/Return on your keyboard. Type your administrator password if prompted and you’re done! Log out to see the changes you’ve made to the login window. Pretty cool, huh?

If you grow tired of your message, you can change it to a new one at any time using the same command with different text. If you choose to remove it entirely, copy & paste the following in Terminal:

sudo defaults delete /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText

Notice the word “delete” replaces “write” here. This will restore your login window preferences file back to the way it was with no mention of the LoginwindowText key whatsoever.

For more Mac login window tricks and tips, check out the other segments of this 4-part series: “Mac login window tricks, Part 1: Unleash hidden system information“, “Mac login window tricks, Part 3: Hide certain user accounts“, and “Mac login window tricks, Part 4: Change default background image“.

4 Comments Have Been Posted (Leave Your Response)

Ooh that is very smart!
I would be more inclined to put the humorous message for myself since I don’t really bring Mr. Maccy anywhere.

yeah I think the: If you’re reading this, I’m probably freaking out trying to find my Mac. Please return it to me at…
makes sense but A humorous message is something that loses it’s humor after a while, when you’ve read it a few times. So if you could automatically change that with a random funny message…

There is a way to achieving the same result without using terminal: Onyx.

This well known multifunction utility for Mac OS X allows you write a log-in message in the parameters sectionunder Login.

Onyx is free from Titanium’s Software

Have fun!

I bought a G5 but can’t login. The user name and password given to me does not work. Any tips on creating a new name and password? Thanks…..