Suddenly, when I attempted to create a new terminal window, it fails. It does nothing for about a minute then shows only this:

Login incorrect

Typing in my username doesn't work. I get the same message. Terminal was already up and running in another window. I just can't create any more.

My editor, IntelliJ, has a built in terminal and that's running fine.

  • And it cleared itself up after 30 minutes. Weird. There was a scary minute when the login screen was exhibiting the same behavior. If anyone has a theory as to what might have happened, I'd be interested in hearing it. – sblundy Jul 22 '15 at 14:57
  • Your login shell might be broken. Try going to Terminal Preferences > Startup tab, and check that "Default Login Shell" Is selected. if it is, select "Command (complete path)" And type login username. You might have to enter password every time you view terminal. – TheBro21 Jul 22 '15 at 16:56
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    (Waited for enough rep to comment) a similar thing happened to me when I was using Terminal while a system update was installing; commands suddenly stopped working and I started to panic. After the update, which presumably had affected binaries, paths, etc, things went back to normal. I have the feeling this might have been what happened in your case. Did it work again? – mtklr Sep 5 '15 at 13:25

This has happened to me in the past and just happened again on a Mac running High Sierra (10.13.5) that is bound to an Active Directory domain.

Turns out it was caused by an active Cisco IPSec VPN connection. The VPN connection likely hijacked my DNS settings and broke local name resolution that relied on using the AD server's DNS.

It also broke access to the Users & Groups System Preference panel.

Try disconnecting your VPN and reopening Terminal.

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I had a similar issue; the computer had been attached to Active Directory and the account had been disabled. I went ahead and disabled Active Directory by going into System Preferences > Users & Groups > unlocking the system to make changes and select Network Account Server: and just deleted the Active Directory account.

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  • this was the cause when i experienced this problem. thanks (kind of obvious once you say it, but i didn't even think about it) – neuralstatic Mar 6 '18 at 19:41

Just a hunch: you might have too many pty's open (pseudo-teletype).

Happened to me while using Xcode, which apparently opened up too many terminal sessions in the background and prevented me from opening a new one.

If this happens again, you could try

  sudo sysctl -w kern.tty.ptmx_max=255
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