I am wondering if programs keep running when users switch account, alas account is locked and another user account logs in. For instance, user Mike runs Photos (that will start curating pictures), then locks account and user Sue logs in to other account; will Photos instance keep running in Mike account in the background?

2 Answers 2


Yes, the applications will continue to run in the background. This happens with Fast User Switching and when Locking then logging in.


You can see the other users' applications are running through the Activity Monitor application:

  • Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.app

To see other users' applications, select the menu item:

  • Activity Monitor.app > View (menu) > Other User Processes
  • I believe it's enabled by default, but to verify & configure, check System Preferences: "An administrator can turn on fast user switching, which allows you to quickly switch between accounts when more than one user is logged in at the same time." support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/…
    – michael
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 2:17

While they will all continue to run, they may not keep doing the same thing.  For example, if iTunes is playing a song, it will pause when you switch users.  I haven't tried it with the new "Music" app.

All apps can be programmed to know if they have a visible window so they can take actions and do more work in the background or less work in the background.

In the end, as a multitasking and multi user OS many processes can stay running when you switch the user for the built in screen.

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