I upgraded a Mac in my lab (23" iMac) to Lion. My MacBook Pro (mid 2007) is running Mountain Lion. For some reason the iMac is showing a different user password screen than my MBP - I can't figure out why. I like the new screen, and am trying to figure out why my MBP doesn't use it.

My MBP shows the "old" screen, with text boxes for user name and password, like this:
This screen hasn't changed on my MBP since Tiger at least.

The iMac shows only the user icon and a spot for password, like this:

I have a hard time thinking it's a hardware limitation issue. Could also be from some old setting, but the iMac used to use the old dialog too. (iMac originally ran Leopard, was upgraded to SL some time ago; same basic upgrade path as my MBP). Any ideas?

Update: This is still happening in Mavericks. The single answer below does not address the issue - the preference pane affects the login screen only, not the password dialog that comes up after screen lock. (I'd vote the answer down - not because it's wrong, but because it doesn't directly address the problem - but I apparently can't do that yet.) User icons on login look just as expected - round icon with user photo, but the password dialog after screensaver has not changed on my system since I bought it in 2007.

Per my comments below, note that any new accounts created use the new screen lock dialog, but my account uses the old format - so this MUST be a per-user issue. I am having a hard time accepting that no one out there can tell me what needs to be changed. I've tried nuking basically ever preference I can find on my system. This is really minor but trying to figure out why it is even happening is driving me nuts.

For anyone else with this issue (and at least one person has emailed me to report they deal with this too!) - I did "fix" the problem thanks to a hard drive crash. I did a clean install, and did not copy any Apple system prefs from backup, just my files and program preferences. This resolved the problem, but didn't do so in a way that allowed me to figure out what the specific setting was that caused it in the first place!

  • Is this returning from sleep or on start up?
    – robmathers
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 21:33
  • The screenshot you show for the MBP is a screenshot of something earlier than Lion (I think it's actually a few versions earlier). Is it really the same dialog showing up in Mountain Lion? (I haven't seen it since Snow Leopard.)
    – jtbandes
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 4:39
  • Not easy to grab a screenshot of a locked computer - both are from a google image search. But yeah, except for having my user name pre-filled, the screen I see at login is identical to that. Googling this issue has turned up nothing.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 17:11

4 Answers 4


If you see the old unlock screen (gray window asking for your username and password) you have to delete the following file:


If you delete this file, you will see the new unlock screen (like the login screen) and touch ID will work again.

Summary: If "/etc/cacloginconfig.plist" exists in 10.9 +, the screensaver unlock screen will be controlled by SecurityAgent (old style). Admins, when they successfully authenticate, will be allowed to take over the user's session. Even if "system.login.screensaver" in AuthDB is set to "use-login-window-ui", this will be overridden by the existence of "/etc/cacloginconfig.plist". We will still be presented with the SecurityAgent style login window.

More Info: http://www.openradar.me/19177988

  • Thank you for this - I think that explains what was different about my account that was causing the issue. I had at one time tried using a CAC card for digital signatures but ended up uninstalling the software. Best guess is that the plist you mention was created at that time.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 16:03

Open the Users & Groups preference panel, and check the Display login window as: setting in Login Options (highlighted below). List of users should give the icon and password option, Name and password gives username and password text fields, albeit with the standard Lion grey linen background, not the dialog box you posted a picture of. enter image description here

  • This isn't the issue, as far as I can tell. "List of Users" is the setting I have, and I do see the list of users at the main login screen - just not when waking from screensaver. I tried changing the setting several times, no effect.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 1:48

The ScreenSaver dialog box changed in 10.7, switching to a user with a password dialog versus a user/pass combo dialog box. There is a way to revert to the older method by changing a file to be set to the old style - but I can't remember off the top of my head how to do that.

  • I tried killing all prefs in Library (system and my account) related to login, but no dice. Still getting this old-school password-user combo box. If you could remember the specific file that needs to be edited that would help immensely.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 17:22
  • There is definitely something going on with a config file. If I create a new user account, the new dialog box appears as expected - but ONLY for that user. I can't seem to track down exactly what file needs to be fixed. Any help?
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 17:10

I had this problem for a looong time, but finally found the solution (in a comment on https://randomoracle.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/smart-card-logon-for-os-x-part-iv/):

sudo sc_auth remove -u [user]

and then logout and back in. Wonderful feeling to find this, really!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .