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I turned on my computer yesterday to have it hang after login with user A. The desktop loads but (sometimes my icons appear, sometimes they don't) but as soon as I try to do anything with my mouse, it goes circle wheel of death.

However, when I login with a user B, everything loads fine. (Of course, all the files I need are on the user A login. I barely even knew I had a second user account until I started trying to fix this as I had an auto login setup.)

I've done the disk utility repair disk and repair permissions, as well as the PRAM reset and SMC reset. Also did a "reset home folder permissions and ACLs" and the parental controls tricks per this post: One user can't open anything after Yosemite upgrade I've even uninstalled a ton of apps.

None of it helps. I've also booted into safe mode. And it's the same problem, user A hangs after log in.

I'm currently re-installing Yosemite (5 hours left, this is ruining my day).

If this doesn't fix the problem, does anyone have any other suggestions? Or if you've had this issue, how do I prevent it from happening again?

I'm using an iMac if that makes a difference.

  • When it hangs, is just freezing before loading the desktop with a spinning ball? Do you have to force restart your Mac to try again? When you log into the second account, check the System log and Diagnostic Reports in Console for the word "hang" for clues as to what's causing it to freeze up. – Mr Rabbit May 4 '15 at 17:13
  • It loads the desktop background. As soon as I move the mouse cursor (starts as an arrow) it turns into the spinning wheel. Also nothing clicks, not the dock nor any icons (when icons load, which isn't always). – Ben Roe May 4 '15 at 17:47
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You have just duplicated the first part of the "why is my Mac crashing?" troubleshooting steps.

If it works fine under one user and the other user, not so much then the problem is not with the O/S it is something specific to the user.

Steps to fix this include booting into Safe Mode (hold Shift while booting) and logging into that account. Take the contents of that users Library/Preferences folder and put it in another folder on the desktop. and reboot normally. If that fixes it one of the many preference files was corrupt. If not...

Then there may be something installed in that user's account that is doing something bad. Go into System Preferences -> Users and remove the startup items for that user and reboot.

There are a lot of things that this could be. And it is a matter of finding what is unique to one user account that is crashing. It's a lot of fiddly, annoying investigations. It might be easier to just create a new user account, move only the necessary stuff to the new user profile and delete the old one.

  • Thank you. Safe mode user A also won't load / hangs right after login. So I can't access the Library or System preferences for that user... I'm fine just creating a new user but how do I get access to user A's files? I tried doing a search for this yesterday and I was able to view them through some terminal commands, but unable to copy and paste them to User B's profile or an external... – Ben Roe May 4 '15 at 21:56
  • When you go to delete a user it will offer to back it up. The O/S will create a disk image file of that user's profile. Once tthat is done you can mount the image and access all the files. – Steve Chambers May 5 '15 at 15:48
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Yosemite reinstall might fix that, but if you have some crazy app it might kill it again.

I assume you did the Apple Hardware test, but since one user works i doubt that.

If it does, try loading in Safe mode (to exclude non apple apps), and if it hangs it might be a apple stuff.

If necessary, start in Verbose mode to see where it hangs up with the trouble account.

You can use the working account to access the broken account and save your files as described here: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/164715/46541

  • I didn't try the Hardware test. Will do it if re-install fails. I did try loading user A in safe mode, it still hung. What should I do once in verbose mode? – Ben Roe May 4 '15 at 17:48
  • In Verbose mode you will see the booting progress as text lines, just watch it work, and make not where it hangs (stops). – Ruskes May 4 '15 at 18:32
  • It hangs well after verbose mode. When I login with user A. And Hardware test doesn't load when I held "D" as per Apple instructions: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201257 – Ben Roe May 4 '15 at 21:54
  • did you take note where Verbose got stuck. – Ruskes May 4 '15 at 23:28
  • Verbose did not get stuck. It got to the user login screen. "Hangs well after verbose mode" = "hangs after time has passed after verbose mode" sorry if it was unclear – Ben Roe May 5 '15 at 4:30
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I have the OS X 10.11.1 server and while setting up users, set them to share only. Meaning /dev/null/username was the home directory. I selected all the users and applied that setting to it, which included my local admin account. Oops. I just bent the OS for this user and didn't find out until I rebooted several days later.

I always create an admin account and enable root for the just in case situations. This was one. I don't know how I could have fixed this without the root login.

To fix:

  • I logged in the single user mode, /sbin/mount -uw / and removed the /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist and rebooted.
  • I logged in as root, opened the System Preferences, Users. Accessed the advanced options by ctrl clicking the local admin account and set the home directory to the name of the home folder for the local admin - /Users/localAdminName. I rebooted and logged in as the local user.

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