Mac OS X: How to log in automatically at startup

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Use these steps to log in automatically when your computer starts up.

Note: The text and images below describe Mac OS X 10.0 to 10.1.5. The action required for Mac OS X 10.2 or later is very similar, except that you use the Accounts preference pane instead of the Login preference pane. In the 10.2 Accounts pane, look for the Set Auto Login button and the checkbox for "Log in automatically as <username>."

Note: This document applies to Mac OS X 10.2.8 or earlier. For information about Mac OS X 10.3.x, see this article; for information about Mac OS X 10.4 or later, see this article.

Where you begin

After using the Mac OS X Setup Assistant, your computer is set up to log in the first user automatically. When you use the Users pane in System Preferences to add a second user, a sheet appears with a message reminding you that automatic login is turned on.

Figure 1 Automatic login reminder in Users pane

Setting up automatic login
    1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple Menu.
    2. Click the Login icon.
    3. Click the Login Window tab.
    4. If you are not logged in as an Admin user, click the lock button to make changes. Enter an Admin user's name and password.
    5. Click the checkbox to turn on "Automatically log in," or leave it unchecked to turn off this feature.

    Figure 2 The Login pane of System Preferences

    6. If you checked "Automatically log in," enter the name and password of the user you want to have logged in at system startup time.
    7. Click Set. It is normal to hear a system tone.

Important: This option is most appropriate for a computer that has a single user. To get the security and Multiple-Users benefits of Mac OS X, each member of a group of users that shares the same computer should log in with his or her own name and password and log out at the end of the session. This allows Mac OS X to properly separate items such as user documents, application preferences, and email. If a group of users must use the "Automatically log in" option for the convenience of one of its members, then all other members of the group should immediately choose Log Out from the Apple menu and then log back in with their own names and passwords. Be sure to remember the administrator's name and password. Even after the "Automatically log in" option has been enabled, some software installation and system settings still require authentication of the administrator's name and password.
Published Date: Feb 17, 2012

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