r
rhames
Jun 28, 2013

What’s the difference between being an administrator user and root user on a Mac?

What can one do that the other can’t, if anything?

jimlynch
07/04/2013
This article might be of interest.

Enabling and using the "root" user in Mac OS X
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1528?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

"About the root user

The user named "root" is a special user in UNIX-style operating systems that has read and write privileges to all areas of the file system. The root user should only be used for specific administration or monitoring tasks. After completing a task as the root user, you should log out of Mac OS X and log back in using a normal or administrator account. You should disable root access if you do not use it often.

The root user does not appear in Users or Accounts preferences.

Important notes

Only the owner of a computer or its designated administrator(s) should have an administrator account or the root password.
Any user with an administrator account can become the root user or reset the root password.
A root password should be difficult to guess, containing both numbers and letters within the first eight characters.
A root user has the ability to access other users' files.
The root user has the ability to relocate or remove required system files and to introduce new files in locations that are protected from other users."
j
jack12
06/28/2013

A root user can screw things up much more easily. You can access pretty much everything as a root user, including other users’ files. The training wheels are off, and you can change or delete files with impunity, which can be a very bad thing if you delete or change the wrong thing. Be very careful, and don’t do things while you are poking around as a root user unless you understand the consequences. 

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