How-To: Fix Computer Account Creation Failed Error on your Mac

I’m a registered Apple developer. While I don’t code any longer – and have never coded an app in XCode – I registered for one specific reason: to get access to beta versions of Apple device operating systems before the public beta.  I – and a number of other tech journalism enthusiast sites do this to get access to the beta versions of Windows (via Windows Insiders) and macOS, iOS, iPadOS (via Apple Developer) so we can write about the latest and greatest platform developments, and to provide feedback to Microsoft and Apple, and I do it all the time.

Just the other day, Apple released macOS Monterey Beta 6 to developers.  I have two different MacBook Air’s in my house that run the Monterey Beta – an Early 2015 13″ MBA with a 2.2GHz i7 with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD and a 2021 13″ MBA with an M1 with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.

It took over 24 hours from the announcement of the availability of the beta for it to show up on either of my MacBook Airs.  The installation of Monterey Beta 6 Build 21A5506j went smoothly on the Intel MBA.  Once the beta showed up, it downloaded and installed without issue.

Not so much on the M1 MBA… That went totally sideways.

When I saw the announcement for Beta 6, Build 21A5506j, I started the M1 MBA up and checked for a Software Update. It was running Beta 5.  Unfortunately, it gave me a strange message that my software updates were at the highest levels allowed by my organization.  

My M1 MBA isn’t managed via MDM and isn’t attached to a domain.  Somehow the beta software profile got corrupted. Unfortunately, I don’t have a screen shot of the message given to me by Software Update (to be honest, I didn’t think about taking a shot.  I just wanted to get the issue fixed and resolved. The idea for this article came afterwards.)

I tried reinstalling the developer beta profile and rechecking for an update. I also removed the beta profile, rebooted and reapplied it. I kept getting the same results.  My next thought was to boot into recovery, erase the drive and reinstall macOS Monterey.

That process went well. I was able to erase the drive with Disk Utility in the Recovery. I was able to reinstall macOS Monterey. I was able to log in with my Apple ID during setup and everything was going swimmingly until I got to the point where Monterey setup tried to create my account and home directory. That’s when I got this lovely little error:

I clicked the Try Again button.  After getting frustrated with a couple of screen errors indicating that the Account Name I wanted to use wasn’t available, I ended up with 3 different accounts on the M1 MBA.  I got multiple password errors from each account when I tried to log into any of them.

I repeated the above process, wiping the M1 MBA, but this time without signing into iCloud.  I got the same results. 

I repeated the above process, trying to reset my accounts password via my iCloud account. I could not log into any account created on the newly wiped machine.  I sat there, looking at a fairly brand new, rather attractive Space Gray paper weight.

So… Google is your friend, right?  I started searching for potential answers and came up with this thread from Apple Support.  If you scroll down below the Helpful Answers banner, you’ll see a similar list of instructions to the set below. I’ve cleaned it up and added to it a bit.  There’s a bit of how and why below the instructions list. It’s fairly straight forward and removed this roadblock AND updated my M1 MBA to the Beta 6 build all in one step.

  1. Boot to recovery. 
    With the machine off, hold down the power button of your M1 MBA or M1 MacBook Pro until you see Loading startup options. 
  2. Click the Options “gear” icon, and click Continue. 
  3. Select an admin user by clicking their account icon, and then click Next.
  4. Type in the admin account password. and click Continue.  When you get to the Recovery partition “home page” hang out a sec.
  5. Go up to the Utilities menu on the Menu bar and click it.  Click on Terminal to launch it.
  6. Type in the following terminal command,


    and press enter.  The Reset Password Wizard will appear.  You’re not going to reset the password. You need this Wizard to appear to get to a menu option in the Recovery Assistant.
  7. Click on the Reset Password window. In the Menu Bar, choose Recovery Assistant, and then select Erase Mac.  The Erase mac Wizard will appear.
  8. Click the blue Erase Mac link in the window that opens. Click Erase Mac again to confirm. When the process completes, your Mac will restart automatically.
  9. Depending on the macOS version you are on (Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey), your Mac may automatically restart.  After the reboot, the Mac presents you with options to select a Wi-Fi network.  Log into your wireless network, or connect an ethernet cable to your Mac.  You will need internet access to complete the following steps.
  10. Your Mac will prompt you for activation. Activate your Mac.
    When activation completes, you need to choose the Exit to Recovery Utilities option.   You should be taken to the Recovery Partition Home Screen.  
  11. If the activation fails, check your internet connection. Activation requires an active internet connection to complete. After resolving any internet connectivity issues, if it failed, try activating again. 
  12. Once activation is completed. You will see the normal restore options.
  13. Choose reinstall macOS.

When this process completes, you should be able to create a computer account and log into your machine.  I would highly recommend that you skip the process of logging into iCloud until AFTER setup completes. You can always run System Preferences and sign into iCloud after you get access to your Mac’s Desktop.

This process will also put the latest build of the OS you’re running – in my case, macOS Monterey Beta 6, Build 21A5506j – automatically.  You shouldn’t need to run Software Update after that (but you can always check, if you wish).

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