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I'm running macOS 12.12.3 (Sierra).

I keep getting logged out when I try to switch users, both doing fast user switching and going back to the login menu and then logging in.

It's incredibly frustrating.

What could be a fix?

The only "weird" thing that I have running is QuickRes.

Any idea?

  • Hi nbrogi, I just want to confirm that you are in fact being fully logged out. When you switch user's are apps still open as they were? Or do they re-open and load the context, the same way they do when the box us checked for restoring applications when the Mac is restarted? – natemacinnes Feb 6 '17 at 2:13
  • Does this problem occur regardless of which user account you're in at the time? Or does it only occur with one/some of the user accounts? If unsure, can you test by logging in to each of them after booting up and then switching users to determine the exact behaviour? – Monomeeth Feb 9 '17 at 5:07
  • On the login window, are you seeing an orange checkmark next to your user? Also, is it possible that the computer has been rebooted in between? – Jackson1442 Feb 9 '17 at 23:22
  • @Monomeeth: it's not consistent, so I'm not sure – nkkollaw Feb 10 '17 at 12:44
  • @Jackson1442: nope, I'm completely logged out. Doesn't look like the computer gets rebooted at all. – nkkollaw Feb 10 '17 at 12:45
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+25

As you may know, troubleshooting is a process of elimination and often requires patience. There are a number of things I suggest you try to get to the bottom of this.

1. Bootup into Safe Mode

First of all let's boot up into Safe Mode. Not only can you test to see if the problem is replicated in Safe Mode, but the very act of booting into Safe Mode will run some checks, delete system cache files, verify your startup disk, and attempt to repair directory issues (if any are identified).

Follow these steps to boot your Mac into Safe Mode:

  1. Fully shut down your Mac
  2. Restart your Mac
  3. Immediately press the Shift key and keep it down
  4. Let go of the Shift key when you see the login window (NOTE: If you have FileVault enabled you may need to log in twice).
  5. Take a note of what happens (i.e. could you boot your Mac okay, is the issue still present, etc)
  6. To exit Safe Mode just restart your Mac as normal

Once you've booted into Safe Mode, let me know how you went. This will help determine if the issue is related to third party software etc.

2. Reset your PRAM/NVRAM

Older Macs had what's called Parameter RAM (PRAM), newer Macs use Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM). It may be worth you also resetting this.

Your question doesn't specify what model of Mac you're using, but all Macs (except for Late-2016 MacBook Pro models) use the same process. I've included steps for both scenarios below:

  • For ALL models EXCEPT for Late-2016 MacBook Pros

    1. Shut down your machine. Yes, a full shut down, not just logging out.
    2. Press the power button and then press the commandoptionpr keys. You have to make sure you press these keys before the gray screen appears or it won’t work.
    3. Hold those keys down until your Mac reboots again and you here the startup chime.
    4. Let go of the keys and let your Mac reboot normally.

Note: When you log back in you may need to readjust some of your system preferences (e.g. speaker volume, screen resolution, startup disk selection, time zone information, etc).

  • For all Late-2016 MacBook Pro models (with and without Touch Bar) follow these steps:

    1. Shut down your machine. Yes, a full shut down, not just logging out.
    2. Press the power button and then immediately press the commandoptionpr keys.
    3. Keep these keys pressed down for at least 20 seconds!
    4. Let go of the keys and let your Mac reboot normally.

Note: When you log back in you may need to readjust some of your system preferences (e.g. speaker volume, screen resolution, startup disk selection, time zone information, etc).

3. Delete preferences

If starting in Safe Mode and resetting your PRAM/NVRAM does not resolve the issue, delete the com.apple.systempreferences.plist and com.apple.loginwindow.plist files.

To do this:

  1. While only logged into your main account and within Finder, hold the option key while clicking on the Go menu
  2. Select the Library option from the drop-down menu
  3. In the Library window that opens up, find and open the Preferences folder
  4. Right-click on com.apple.systempreferences.plist and select Move to Trash
  5. Right-click on com.apple.loginwindow.plist and select Move to Trash
  6. Restart the computer
  7. Empty the trash

Test to see whether this has made any difference to your problem.

4. Create a new user account

If doing all three things above do not resolve the issue, I suggest creating a new user account. However, do not do this until you know the problem isn't resolved.

  1. Create a new user account
  2. Reboot your Mac as normal
  3. Log into the new account and use it for a little while (maybe some web browsing)
  4. Now try using fast user switching to switch to another account
  5. Take note of what happens (was the new user logged out or not?)
  6. If the new user wasn't logged out, continue to step 7, otherwise stop here and report back
  7. Use the account you're now logged into for a while
  8. Now try fast user switching back to the new user account
  9. Take note of what happens (was the old user logged out when you switched back to the new user account?)
  10. Regardless of what happens at Step 9, now try using fast user switching to switch to another account
  11. Take note of what happens (was the new user logged out or not?)

After doing the above, report back on what happened at Step 6. If you progressed further, also report on what happened at Steps 9 and 11.

If you found the problem was not replicated in the above 11 steps, then use your computer normally (but do not delete the new user account you created). If the problem reappears, then start using the new user account instead for a while as your main account and see whether the problem returns.

  • Yes, but this is basically resetting everything without knowing or fixing the root cause. Of course I could install from scratch, but I'd like to understand what the problem is. – nkkollaw Feb 11 '17 at 9:49
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    I disagree. The idea of my answer is to try these things one by one as a process of elimination to try and identify the cause of your issue. For example, if you start up in Safe Mode and the problem doesn't exist, but then you boot normally and the problem returns, it's almost certainly a 3rd party software issue. On the other hand, if the problem doesn't return, then you know it was a directory issue or problem with system cace files (both of which can occur for a myriad of reasons and you're unlikely to ever know what caused it). – Monomeeth Feb 11 '17 at 10:24
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    And again, if you delete the preferences files and this resolves the issue, then you know it was corrupted .plist files (the cause of which can be many things, and again you're unlikely to ever know what caused it). And the process of creating a new user account and doing all that testing is to identify whether it's some sort of corruption at the User Account level, or whether it's a problem at the System level. Once you identify that, this will inform your next troubleshooting steps. – Monomeeth Feb 11 '17 at 10:25
  • I probably would start with the least destructive step (number 4) and only try deleting plists and/or NVRAM if this doesn't help. – nohillside Feb 14 '17 at 22:01
  • Just following step #1, booting into safe mode, fixed this issue for me. Thanks @Monomeeth. – Walton Mar 30 '17 at 21:56

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