My Macbook Pro (running El Capitan) will not load my main user account. After I enter the password it just looks as though it's loading but never displays the desktop. I am able to log into the guest account without a problem and I have even created a new administrator account, but I need to access my old user profile. Any suggestions much appreciated.

1 Answer 1


It sounds like there is something (possibly) damaged that is preventing log in under your user profile.

Can you log into that account if you boot your Mac in Safe Mode (holding Shift during boot up)? If so there is a startup item or a preference file that is damaged and causing this problem.

I have found that temporarily moving the contents of the preferences folder elsewhere (like the desktop) and rebooting often solve such issues.

  1. Log in to your Mac with the alternative administrator account
  2. Open the /Users/[USERNAME] folder in the Finder
  3. press ShiftCommand. to reveal the Library folder of the account with problems.
  4. Get Info on that Library folder and click the lock icon and authenticate
  5. Click the "+" icon (lower left corner) and add the current username to the list.
  6. Select that name in the list and change the Privilege to Read and Write.
  7. Click the Gear icon and select "Apply to enclosed items" from that menu.

All of that to give your current (admin)m account access to your non-working account.

I would move everything in that user's ~/Library/Preferences folder to another folder in ~/Library (call it oldprefs or some such, the name doesn't matter.)

Once that has completed reboot your Mac and log in with the problematic account and hopefully login will be successful.

If it is then proceed to use your Mac as you would normally. Some apps will have gone back to their default configurations. Registration may need to be reapplied, settings changed back to the way you want them, etc.

You can start putting preferences files back in their original folder if you like. I would do it a few at a time, logging out and then back in each time you do it. This will help you narrow down what preference file (if any) was causing the problem.

  • Thanks for the reply Steve. I am unable to log into my main admin account even when booted in safe mode. Would you still recommend I temporarily move contents of the preferences folder? Feb 2, 2019 at 13:29
  • Yes, absolutely Feb 3, 2019 at 0:27

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