My iMac is stuck in a login bootloop. After entering the password, I see a white screen for a second and then I am thrown back to the login screen again.

I tried the same in safe mode, and it behaves the same.

I also tried resetting the PRAM, and it behaves the same even after that.

Since this is a hand-me-down, I am not sure of the version its running. I am ok with data loss too.

  • I pressed alt while booting and it showed me a recovery screen. I am downloading the OSX ML currently. Lets see how that goes. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 13:34
  • That's an awesome way to get the OS upgraded. You can use the steps in my answer before or after that upgrade in case a fresh install doesn't remove user corruption or a bad system library file or extension.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 13:43
  • If the issue persists once you've reinstalled the OS you might try booting in safe mode, which disables extensions, spotlight, etc. To do so you hold the left hand Shift key on your keyboard while powering it on, releasing Shift once you see the Apple w/ the spinning gear underneath it.
    – Mr Rabbit
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 13:44
  • @bmike How do I make an admin account from the single user mode? Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 13:57
  • That's more of a pain since there's no generic "adduser" command. I delete the file that the OS reads to tell if the setup is done. Then early in the boot process, the OS runs the setup assistant. If your OS doesn't run the assistant after deleting .AppleSetupDone file - then it's generally not healthy enough to self repair.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


Boot to single user mode (hold cmdS while booting), delete the setup file and try making a new clean admin account.

/sbin/mount -uw /  
rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone  

At that point, assuming the OS is minimally functional, you can make a new admin account (call it test12345 or something to avoid hitting an existing user account) Optionally, you can delete the old user accounts and user home folders before you type exit above.

rm -rf /Users/whatever
rm /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/users/whatever.plist

Perform the two commands above for each user you want to remove from the system. You can also delete things more cleanly by logging in to your new admin account and deleting the old users from the graphical tool in system preferenes.

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