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There are three user accounts on a system running Yosemite 10.10.1.

  1. When a specific user logs in, Finder does not start.
  2. The keyboard shortcut for Force Quit (--esc) works, but Finder is not on the list.
  3. The keyboard shortcut for restart (--) also works.
  4. Finder does start when either of the other two users logs in.
  5. In the affected account's ~/Library/Logs folder, I noticed SystemUIServer_2015-01-14-135204_ComputerName, including the following, which may or may not be relevant:
Crashed Thread: 2 Exception Type: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV) Exception Codes: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS at 0x000000010db8cca0 VM Regions Near 0x10db8cca0: VM_ALLOCATE 000000010db65000-000000010db69000 [ 16K] r--/r-- SM=S/A --> VM_ALLOCATE 000000010db8d000-000000010dbd6000 [ 292K] r--/r-- SM=SHM

How is Finder normally invoked at login, and what is the best approach to troubleshoot more deeply? I realize that deleting and replacing the user account entirely would resolve the issue, but I would like to learn what is happening and how to resolve it directly.

  • For the user without Finder, can you open Terminal and run this command: "defaults read com.apple.loginwindow Finder" ? If so, please copy the output. – Kent Jan 20 '15 at 8:18
  • @Kent, I haven't been able to open Terminal with the broken user account logged in. Is there a way to do that on a Mac when there is no usable GUI? – Miles Erickson Jan 23 '15 at 0:54
  • Does the Dock not start either? You could start Finder from the icon there. Spotlight might be another option. If the Dock is not running, what is listed in the window when you do the Force Quit? – Kent Jan 23 '15 at 0:58
  • The user logs in and gets a blank screen with a desktop background. No icons, no Dock, no menu bar. Force Quit pops up when I press Command-Option-Escape, but the list is empty. And unlike the Task Manager in Windows, it doesn't include an option to run a new task. Is there some kind of a login script file that nornally launches the GUI? – Miles Erickson Jan 25 '15 at 7:46
  • There's no login script... by default, Finder should launch unless the com.apple.loginwindow Finder property (mentioned in the first comment above) is set to something else. It sounds like there is either a permission issue or a preference/cache file that is messed up. First, make sure that the user's home folder is owned by the user, and they have rwx permissions (and the Library directory in their home as well). Assuming there are no special group settings between different users (ie, all users are in the same group) you'll need to focus on the preference and cache files. (to be contd) – Kent Jan 31 '15 at 11:05
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First, make sure the user is the owner of their home directory. In Terminal, sudo ls -lFad /Users/(username) and that the permissions are set at least "rwx" for the owner. Likewise, for the /Users/(username)/Library/ folder.

There are temporary cache files in /var/folders/(two letters)/(more characters)/ for each user. You can find the specific one for your user by doing sudo ls -lFad /var/folders/*/* and searching for the one which is owned by the user. Moving this entire directory someplace else (like, /Users/Shared/temporary/) may allow the user to log in successfully; but, I doubt it. A cache corruption should be fixed automatically. But, in the interest of completeness, I'll list it here anyway.

There are some files in the user's Library/ folder which (if corrupted) might cause the login to hang. This list is arbitrary and not guaranteed to be complete, but it is a list of the most likely suspects. You could move these (or, even, all of the preference files) and systematically replace them to see what is causing the hangup, assuming the login works when the files are moved away.

Files in ~/Library/Preferences/

.GlobalPreferences.plist
com.apple.BezelServices.plist
com.apple.dock.plist
com.apple.dock.db
com.apple.finder.plist
com.apple.loginwindow.plist
com.apple.QuickLookDaemon.plist
com.apple.systemuiserver.plist
loginwindow.plist

Files in ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/

.GlobalPreferences.(long string).plist
com.apple.windowserver.(long string).plist

Files in ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

(could be anything)

Files in ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/

(could be anything)

Again, this may or may not solve your trouble; but, it is a good starting point.

  • Removing .plist files from ~user/Library/Preferences was the solution. Thanks! – Miles Erickson Feb 5 '15 at 22:31
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First thing I would try to do is to fix all permissions on / drive

try:
sudo diskutil repairPermissions /

and report if it helped.

  • No effect. It found and "repaired" a bunch of printing permissions that did not match defaults, but nothing user-specific at all. – Miles Erickson Feb 5 '15 at 22:31

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