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For the last week or so, I've been coming in to the office every morning to find my Mac Pro has logged itself out.

Mac Pro Late 2013 macOS Catalina Version 10.15.3 (19D76)

I have been randomly trying to disable/uninstall things that I thought might be causing the issue but so far no luck.

This morning, I thought that I had finally nailed it as when the screen came up, it was just asking for the password as opposed to username and password as it has started doing since it started logging itself out. Turns out I had started working on a Microsoft Word document which I hadn't saved when I left for the day so that stopped the logout process in its tracks and I was greeted with:

logout stopped warning dialog

All of the usual suspects are not the issue. E.g. I do NOT have 'automatically log out after x minutes' set. I do not have any energy saver settings that would log me out:

energy saver

The user account settings also don't seem to have anything that would cause a logout:

user account settings

In security and privacy, the "Require password after sleep or screen saver" is set to "immediately", and "Disable automatic login" is checked.

Most frustratingly about this whole endeavor is that after searching and grepping for longer than I'd care to admin, I absolutely can NOT find logs indicating who or what is causing the logout. Console.app is not helpful; searching though /var/log/ and /private/var/log both as regular user and root (via sudo -i) for things like "log out", "logged out", "logout" along with many variations thereof have yielded no help.

It seems like there should be a straightforward term and/or location where this info would be logged and I'm hoping I just can't figure out what it is.

I'm also certain that this is a logout and not a sleep/wake deal because the last 3 or so mornings when it has happened, all of the applications I had opened when I left for the day are closed and gone.

There have been no notable new software installations of note; but there was an OS update within the last week or so. Unfortunately I can not for sure be certain if this issue started immediately after running that update.

Where can I find out what is causing my machine to log itself out sometime between when I leave around 5pm EST and when I get back in the next morning around 9am EST? There should be logs that detail this basic info shouldn't there? In addition to where I might look, what would be good search terms to use to find these types of events? Obviously "logout, login, logged-out" etc. aren't doing the job (NB: grepping for these terms with case-sensitivity off).

More screenshots of searching for logout etc not helping:

enter image description here

And checking for software updates leads to nothing being available:

| => softwareupdate -l
Software Update Tool

Finding available software
No new software available.

Update: just had a logout in the middle of the day: login[6335]: DEAD_PROCESS: 6335 ttys000

  • That really sounds like automatic software updates are turned on, and the system is trying to install software during downtime. Have you checked the Software Update preference panel to see what the settings are, and if there are any updates pending? – Ted Wrigley Jan 31 at 17:33
  • No updates are available or pending restart. – stormdrain Feb 3 at 21:06
  • Hmph. Ok, second question. Is this Mac administered by some IT person, or are you the only one who accesses it? There are a number of different ways to log out a user administratively (launchd jobs and crontab items, background tasks, etc), but they would all imply someone intentionally setting your machine to log you out. Should we bother looking for such? – Ted Wrigley Feb 3 at 21:17
  • I am the only user and admin. No one would have set any changes like that. Thx. – stormdrain Feb 4 at 17:12
  • Well, Googling around didn't tell me much more than it told you, but it did suggest that unexpected logouts might be due to instabilities caused by cache file corruption, and suggested running a maintenance utility app. I'd recommend Onyx — titanium-software.fr/en/onyx.html — which I've used before with good results. Download the right version for your machine, open if (and give it permissions), then run the default 'maintenance' tasks. You'll lose your old logs (which weren't helping anyway) but it might clear things up. – Ted Wrigley Feb 4 at 18:13
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In your utilities folder, in your Applications folder, you'll find the console app. You can use this app to look at the system logs. The console app, when started looks like so:

enter image description here

There are several log files listed. I suggest you double-click on the system log and in the search box at top of window search for logout.

| improve this answer | |
  • As mentioned in OP, "Console.app is not helpful". I've searched both there and with terminal via grep everywhere I can think of for 'logout'. – stormdrain Feb 3 at 20:33

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