I am starting to accumulate too many processes on my Mac. No clue why this is happening, but it is causing a lot of problems such as:

  • programs fail to start or hang on launch

  • in the terminal I get a lot of messages such as "unable to fork", for example I got this error in iTerm2: https://gitlab.com/gnachman/iterm2/issues/5027

  • also get some errors saying "too many files open" but I dont know what files these could be, I do not have any more programs running than usual and don't have much open myself.

  • cannot open any new terminal windows, and any current terminal windows cannot use pipes

  • at the lock screen, I try to enter my password but the entire UI becomes unresponsive; I type the password and hit 'Enter' but nothing happens for several minutes, I can click on buttons but they do not do anything

This just happened again, and I checked ps -aef and had 1,000+ proccesses. However most of them were anonymous and looked like this:

enter image description here

Most of these anonymous processes are labelled things like (pmset) and (networksetup); no clue what that means, Google did not reveal anything useful.

Also while trying to run ps -aef | grep '(' | wc -l the entire terminal window crashed; when I brought up a new one and ran it again it returned 753, meaning there were about 753 of these anonymous processes running.

Rebooting solves the problem but only temporarily, eventually it creeps back up. Randomly it goes away on its own. Right now the number of total processes (ps -aef | wc -l) is back down to 350.

Total memory and CPU usage during all this is very low, so they do not seem to be culprits.

Any idea what is going on? How am I accumulating all these processes in the first place?

For reference, I am running macOS 10.12.6 High Sierra on an iMac.


Another clue, I managed to catch this happening before my terminal completely locked up, and I can actually see from the ps output (ps -aef | less) that these processes seem to start spawning about ~30min after I arrived at work this morning, immediately following the start of a process called PwrMgrDaemon. It then proceeded to spawn 2 new threads per minute for the entire day. I caught it around 3:50pm when I started getting errors and again there were a total of 1056 processes running, including a massive amount of these pmset processes. Strangely, while I was taking screenshots and typing up this update, all of these processes vanished and things went back to normal. enter image description here

Some of the errors I caught in my terminal that indicated this was occurringenter image description here again:

  • fork: Resource temporarily unavailable

  • Interrupted system call

  • Have you added any cron like tasks or launchd ones?
    – mmmmmm
    Feb 22, 2019 at 8:34
  • Does this happen for other users on this Mac? If you are the only user, create a temporary user account, log out of your account, login to the new account, then see if the problem recurs. Report back with your findings.
    – IconDaemon
    Feb 22, 2019 at 18:06
  • I am the only user. Not sure what I am supposed to do with a second account, all my programs that I use are on my personal account. Its not like I could use a different one to do my work. This is my work iMac so my desktop account is also tied to my employee network account. Feb 23, 2019 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


You have the program Surveyor Power Management from Aptean installed. This is usually installed as part of a corporate setup, and is used to manage power saving settings across all the company's computers.

Unfortunately it seems that the program has a bug where it is not compatible with High Sierra right now. The effect you see is that it spawns processes intended to set power saving settings, but due to a bug it spawns them over and over again because it "thinks" that they failed. This severely limits performance of the computer and eventually halts it completely.

The only thing to do is to report this to your IT department and/or directly to Aptean to ensure that the software is fixed and updated.

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