I've been having this issue for a while where I come to open the Terminal and I'm met with this:

Login incorrect
login: _

I've already deleted the com.apple.terminal.plist to no avail. The really interesting thing is that sometimes it works, maybe 1 in 50 times. I literally have no idea what might be causing it and after searching the web for the better part of half a day it seems everyone else's issues are fixed when they delete the plist file.

How do I sort this out? I've tried running different shells (bash and zsh), but I still get this log in screen.

Also when I use Activity Monitor, I can see there is no shell running just the login.

Terminal Error

  • 1
    Have you tried clicking Default login shell - when terminal start no login sheall has run yet - OSX is nt the same as many other Unices here
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 30, 2018 at 12:10
  • Another thing to try is invoking that shell manually to see if it reveals any clues: 1. Choose Shell > New Command…. 2. Enter /bin/bash. 3. Click Run.
    – Chris Page
    Apr 14, 2021 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


What worked for me was:

  1. Completely close all terminal windows.
  2. Open Finder from the Dock.
  3. Press Command+Shift+G and type in ~/Library/Preferences/, then press enter.
  4. Locate the file called com.apple.Terminal.plist and rename it (using highlight and then single click) to com.apple.Terminal.OLD.plist.
  5. Re-open the terminal app.

Note that the file might also show up in Finder as com.apple.Terminal if you do not show extensions by default.

  • 1
    Manipulating Preference files directly is not recommended and will not always work, because it is managed by a process that caches the contents. To reset Preferences, run defaults delete com.apple.Terminal.
    – Chris Page
    Apr 14, 2021 at 22:52
  • The only preference that is likely to affect this is the “Shells open with” preference mentioned in the question. Resetting all preferences should be used only as a last resort if changing specific preferences doesn't help.
    – Chris Page
    Apr 14, 2021 at 22:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .