How do I change my account picture on the Mac?

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What better way to personalise your computer than putting your own photo for your account? On this page I shall provide detailed step by step instructions on how to change the profile picture or the user picture on a Mac. The screenshots below have been worked out on OS X Yosemite.

In addition to the profile picture, there are other ways in which you can personalise your Mac. For instance, you can change the desktop wallpaper, screensaver, color of buttons, login method and much much more. I’ll go through these in other articles.

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Let us first get to the job at hand and change that default user picture. FYI, the instructions below will work both for the administrator as well as a user.

Change the Mac profile picture – Instructions and screenshots

  • Open System Preferences
  • Locate Users & Groups
  • Open Users & Groups
  • Mouse over the present account profile picture
  • Select a new picture from the defaults
  • Click Recents
  • Open finder and drop one in Recents
  • Click Done
  • Account profile picture is changed
  • Click Edit button
  • Use Zoom on the picture - part 1
  • Use Zoom on the picture - part 2
  • You can also add effects to the picture
  • Apple effect to picture
  • Choose from various effects - part 1
  • Choose from various effects - part 2
  1. Open System Preferences. You will typically find it in the dock or the Launchpad. If not, locate it using Spotlight Search. The window will probably look like Slide 1.
  2. Click “Users & Groups” – Slide 2.
  3. It will look something like Slide 3.
  4. Take the cursor over the picture. You’ll notice that the word “edit” appears – Slide 4. Click on the picture.
  5. A pop-up is displayed with the default photos – Slide 5. You can choose one from this set and change the pic for your account. However, if you want to use a different one, a custom image, follow the steps below.
  6. Click Recents – Slide 6. This will typically show all the recent photos. Now simply drag and drop your chosen image into this set.
  7. Open a Finder window. Locate the image you want to use for the account. Drag and drop it in the Recent set – Slide 7.
  8. Click the Done button – Slide 8. In a moment, I’ll also explain how to edit this picture.
  9. The account picture will be changed to the one you’ve chosen – Slide 9.

Note #1: You can also edit the picture. Select the picture and click the Edit button – Slide 10 – to bring up a zoom bar. Move the slider in the zoom bar to get to the desired zoom level – Slides 11 and 12.

Note #2: In the edit mode, a small effects button also appears – Slide 13. Clicking it will display the chosen picture with various effects applied to it – Slide 14. At the time of writing, there are 32 effects shown across 6 pages. Each page shows only 9 effects; scroll using the arrow keys – Slides 15 and 16.
Play around with the zoom and effects feature till you arrive at the result you want. Enjoy!

By the way, personalising my new Macbook Pro by replacing the default flower pic with my charming mug shot was one of the first things I did.

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