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From the book Reference 29.6

Reference 29.6
User Session Troubleshooting

If the loginwindow process is not able to initialize the user environment, the user will never be given control of the graphical interface. You may see the user’s desktop background picture, but no applications load, including the Dock or the Finder. Or it may appear that the user session starts, but then the login screen reappears.

Safe Mode Login

At this point you should first attempt a safe mode login, which is initiated by holding down the Shift key while you click the Log In button at the login screen. You can actually perform a safe mode login any time you want to troubleshoot user issues, even if you did not first Safe Boot the system.

With safe mode enabled, the loginwindow process does not automatically open any user-defined login items or applications set to resume. Further, the user’s launchd process does not start any user-specific LaunchAgents. Obviously, if a safe mode login resolves your user session issue, you need to adjust the user’s Login Items list from Users & Groups preferences or any items in the /Library/LaunchAgents or ~/Library/LaunchAgents folders.

If a safe mode login doesn’t resolve your user session issue, there are other troubleshooting sections in this guide to which you should refer. Primarily, you should follow the troubleshooting steps outlined in Lesson 6, “User Accounts.”

Troubleshoot Logout and Shutdown

An inability to log out or shut down is almost always the result of an application or process that refuses to quit. If you’re unable to log out, as long as you still maintain control of the graphical interface, you can attempt to forcibly quit stubborn processes using the techniques outlined in Lesson 21, “Application Management and Troubleshooting.”

You may find that the loginwindow process has closed your user session but the Mac refuses to shut down. This is indicated by a small spinning gear icon on top of your desktop background or a white screen after all your applications have quit. You should let the system attempt to shut down naturally, but if it takes longer than a few minutes, it means a system process is refusing to quit. You can force your Mac to shut down by holding down the power-on button until the Mac powers off, as indicated by a blank display.

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