Reset Administrator Username and Password

This article applies to recent versions of SmarterMail. View articles for SmarterMail 16.x and earlier.
On occasion, the primary SmarterMail administrator may need to reset their own login credentials or the login credentials for a secondary administrator account that manages the entire SmarterMail installation. This is useful in the event that the primary administrator has lost their password or if the login credentials have fallen into the wrong hands.

NOTE: If you use a hosted SmarterMail and need to reset your Domain Administrator or user password, please contact your hosting provider directly. These steps are for resetting a system administrator's account credentials and require access to the server where SmarterMail is installed.

Follow these steps to reset an administrator's password back to the default configuration:
  1. In the Windows Services panel, STOP the SmarterMail service. (Find the Services panel in the Start menu's Administrative Tools option.)
  2. Navigate to the administrators.json file. By default, this is found at C:\Program Files (x86)\SmarterTools\SmarterMail\Service\Settings\administrators.json.
  3. Make a backup copy of the administrators.json file.
  4. Edit the administrators.json file. Ensure you modify this filename, NOT the administrators_bak.json file. The latter is only used as a backup file in case of any potential corruption or loss to the administrators.json. SmarterMail will not recognize changes to the _bak file. (To edit the contents of the administrators.json file, right-click on the file and choose Edit or hover your mouse on Open with and select Notepad. Make sure you have administrative access when you do this.)
  5. In this file, all system administrator accounts will be listed. Locate the entry for the administrator account you wish to reset by finding the corresponding username or display name. (The primary administrator account will also be denoted by a tag of is_primary_admin: true.)
  6. When you've located the correct administrator account, replace the password_hash line with the following password hash. (Note that you should not simply delete the current password hash that's shown. If you do, the administrator will not be able to log in.)
  7. Save the file in the Settings folder using its same name. You may receive the message, "administrators.json already exists. Do you want to replace it?". Choose Yes to replace the file with the updated administrators.json. 
  8. In the Windows Services panel, START the SmarterMail service.
  9. After completing this process, the administrator account you modified will be able to log in to SmarterMail using their username and the default password "admin" (without the quotes)That administrator should immediately go to Settings > Administrators and change their password to something more secure. 


If the reset was not successful or if you receive an "Access is denied." error when attempting to replace the administrators.json file, it is likely because your user account that's logged into the server does not have the proper User Account Control (UAC) permissions. In this case, there are two workarounds that may help:
  • After making a backup of the administrators.json, drag the file out of the Settings folder and onto your desktop. (Alternatively, you can right-click on the file in the Settings folder, click Copy, then right-click on your desktop and click Paste.) Complete steps 4-6. Save and close the file. Then, drag the file from your desktop back into the Settings folder (or copy and paste it in there). Confirm that you would like to replace the administrators.json file that's already there. In the Windows Services panel, start the SmarterMail service. 
  • After making a backup of the administrators.json file, click on the Start menu. (If Notepad is not already visible in the list of applications, type Notepad in the search bar.) Right-click on Notepad and choose Run as Administrator. In the User Account Control popup, choose Yes to allow the program to make changes to the computer. In Notepad, open a file and navigate to the administrators.json file. (If administrators.json is not visible in the folder, change the "Text Documents (*.txt)" dropdown to "All Files (*.*)" instead.) Save and close the file. In the Windows Services panel, start the SmarterMail service. 
For all other cases, please contact the SmarterTools Support Department for direct troubleshooting.
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Would you happen to have a Linux version of these instructions? We are also using v. 5.5 enterprise. TIA.
Ryan McNamee (1/26/2015 at 1:02 PM)
Hi Ryan. SmarterMail can only be installed on a Windows server so we don't have any Linux version instructions. Are you the System Administrator of the installation or an end user?
Andrea Free (1/26/2015 at 1:11 PM)
Ok, I guess it is safe to assume then, we are using a cloud based version. This is my first week as an administrator at the company, I know we only have linux servers, so unless it was installed one of the local end user desktops I cant see it being in house. What can I do to gain access to the local admin account to change the smpt protocol settings. TIA.
Ryan McNamee (1/26/2015 at 1:21 PM)
You'd want to contact your System Administrator for that. If you give me your domain I can do a search online to see who is hosting your email.
Andrea Free (1/26/2015 at 1:30 PM)
Hello Fellas,

I am running SM 9.x and Windows Server 8. I tried what was above to a T but when I try to login using admin/admin for user and pass it is tell me email address or password incorrect. Am I missing something? I need to get into my mail please help!!!

Francis Gibbons (7/22/2015 at 8:21 AM)
Hi Francis! If you're not able to reset the credentials with these steps, please submit a ticket to our support team. (Understand that if a bug in the software is causing this mishap, your ticket will be refunded.) Here is more info on submitting an Email or Phone Ticket:
Andrea Free (7/22/2015 at 8:43 AM)
For everyone else, Matt's suggestion works:

Michael Lewis (7/23/2015 at 9:11 AM)