OS X: Avoid using Fast User Switching with network home directories

Fast User Switching and network home directories

Fast User Switching is a feature of OS X that lets you switch between user accounts without having to return to the login screen. This feature of OS X is not compatible with home folders that are stored on a network server.

If you try to use Fast User Switching with a network home directory, you might see one or more of the following issues:

  • Login may begin, but you might not be able to finish logging in.
  • You might see an alert message that says your Library folder is damaged and needs to be repaired. (If the user’s home folder is stored on a server, the user’s Library folder likely isn’t actually damaged.)
  • You might see the alert message, “You are unable to log in to the user account username at this time. Logging in to the account failed because an error occurred. The home folder for the user account is located on an AFP or SMB server. Contact your system administrator for help.”

Log out of a network user

To avoid issues, use these steps to completely log out of a user account before logging into a user with a network-based home folder:


  1. From the Apple menu, choose Log Out.
  2. Click Log Out in the prompt that appears.
  3. When the login window appears, select another user, or enter your login name and password.

Disable Fast User Switching

If your user’s home folders are normally stored on a server, you can disable Fast User Switching from System Preferences:

  1. Log in using an administrator account.
  2. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
  3. From the View menu, choose Accounts.
  4. Click the Login Options button.
  5. Deselect the “Enable fast user switching” option.

You can use the Profile Manager feature of OS X Server to push this setting to all of your Mac clients.

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