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Following a keyboard problem on a MacBook Pro (2017 I think), I created 3 separate Time Machine backup (yes, I'm that paranoid) on 3 separate USB 3.0 drives.

After keyboard replacement I restored from Time Machine backup following this KB: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203981#macos (MacOS and files).

I took about 3 hours to do and after finishing it appeared to work, but then after typing in my password it just sits there with a spinner and username.

I gave it some 5-10 minutes, and it started spitting out notifications which I found strange since I expected this is not working without first logging in. It turns out it is logged in, but I suspect Finder is unable to start as I can start spotlight (via command + space) and run applications like that without problems.

Safari starts and works with all the bookmarks, System Preferences open, Outlook is there with all emails and reminders, I can start terminal and ls files on my desktop, and yes there is files there. Everything appears to be fine, except the Desktop or Finder.

What I tried so far:

  1. Run disk utility on backups and on internal disk after restoring – no problems
  2. Restore from another disk – same result
  3. Restore from a different point in time – same result
  4. Restore from a different point in time from another disk – same result
  5. Reinstall OS from Internet recovery and use Migration Assistant – errors out 3 minutes after starting migration with very useless generic "error, sorry", lots of people online complain this doesn’t work

Other things I noticed: FileVault is off, I was on before. Is it trying to encrypt the drive, so it takes time to do? Is it indexing something?

I’m running out of ideas here, and I really want to avoid setting up everything manually.

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It sorted itself out after about two hours of being stuck. Leave it be I guess.

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I tried several troubleshooting (delete csstore files, reset SMC, reset NVRAM, safe mode) but none of those worked for me. What did the trick was to connect to the internet. I restored the Mac in a place where it hadn't been before, so it wasn't able to connect to any known Wi-Fi. I logged in as Guest and connected, logged out and tried the main user again, voilà.

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