Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there any possible solution to disable a User from the CLI e.g. over SSH? There has to be a dscl command for that. Or is there a dsAttrTypeStandard attribute that I can set accordingly?

Any pointers ?

share|improve this question

This works in 10.5 and 10.6 on LDAP/OD accounts:

pwpolicy -a diradmin -u ajohnson -setpolicy "isDisabled=1"

Or for local accounts:

sudo dscl . -create /Users/ajohnson UserShell /usr/bin/false

Replace ajohnson with the short username of the user you wish to disable.

To re-enable simply set "isDisabled=0" instead of 1. Or in the case of local accounts to any shell in /etc/shells

pwpolicy example is from page 62 of the User Management Documentation (Snow Leopard) or Page 106 of the Command Line Administration Leopard manual.

share|improve this answer

For all OS X accounts

pwpolicy doesnt work for local accounts on OS X client. BUT You can use the dscl command to directly edit these authentication settings. This method is guaranteed to work for user-level OS X accounts (Guest, admin and other regular accounts which you would see listed on the login window). With this approach it doesn't matter whether the account is managed with OS-X Server / LDAP account. This method also works for all OSX System Accounts (which you would otherwise disable their login shells).

Here's how:

# Read the AuthenticationAuthority key
dscl . -read /Users/username AuthenticationAuthority

AuthenticationAuthority: ;Kerberosv5;; \
username@LKDC:SHA1.41BE28E3B64EB62A42D0673968B9591DE18210F5; \
LKDC:SHA1.07264456235E49D45C4B99FC9549FC366CE32343; ; \


If not already disabled, then append DisabledUser to this key's value. With a semicolon for the field seperator. Excess / empty ; ; fields are ignored.

dscl . -append /Users/username AuthenticationAuthority ";DisabledUser;"


To check an account's enabled / disabled status:

dscl . -read /Users/username AuthenticationAuthority | grep DisabledUser

For OSX System accounts: These accounts don't have an AuthenticationAuthority key to begin with. Therefore to check their enabled / disabled status is determined by whether the UserShell attribute has a valid login shell. So check the shell when AuthenticationAuthority doesn't exist.


To re-enable the user account we just remove DisabledUser sub-string from the AuthenticationAuthority entry. We use then use the dscl . -create cmd and write-back the whole thing.

dscl . -read /Users/username AuthenticationAuthority | \
sed 's/AuthenticationAuthority: //;s/DisabledUser//g;s/[; ]*$//' | \
xargs dscl . -create /Users/username AuthenticationAuthority

Get the AuthenticationAuthority credentials for all users:

dscl . -list /Users AuthenticationAuthority

System accounts: Just remember that a system account must also have a valid login shell.

share|improve this answer

We have some OSX clients authenticating from a Linux LDAP server. What worked for me was setting a user's loginShell attribute to /usr/bin/false. This seems to prevent both SSH and graphical logins.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.