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My iMac 24" is about 3 years old.

Specs:

2.66ghz Intel Core 2 Duo / 4gb RAM / OS X 10.6.7

What happens is while I'm in the mid of using the machine, it suddenly goes back to the blue screen and then the login screen. So It's not a hard restart, more like a forced log out. This is the 3rd time it happened this week. It's never happened before. There was no warning, or slow down prior to the shut down. I also felt the top of the iMac to make sure it wasn't over-heating. It wasn't.

What's causing this and what can I do about it? It's extremely annoying to lose work due to this unexpected behavior.

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It would be great if you could pull Console and tell us what you see there in the moments before these events. We can go from there. Have you installed anything new lately that you can remember? Any particular program that you have running that may be the culprit? –  Martín Marconcini Jun 20 '11 at 8:40
    
I second Martín's suggestion. What you're describing sounds like a loginwindow crash - see if there are any lines pertaining to that. –  Kyle Cronin Jun 20 '11 at 15:33
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1 Answer

The loginwindow process is responsible for logging you in and out - so if you don't get a chance to save your work, then that one process has crashed.

Look for crash logs in the console app to confirm this. While you are there, perhaps look over the console and system.log files in the console application. You will have to take note of the times when the crashes happen and dig into the messages a bit.

They are noisy, and some errors are not - some harmless messages are very important. It's best to compare a good log out with a bad log out to see what changed (and get a feeling what messages are normal)

You could also punt and take it to someone that knows how to diagnose software issues, but it's clear that the login window process has quit and the mac is forced to kill all the other user level processes to attempt to stay running. This is by design and intended to get you to have it looked at since it is a serious software problem.

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