Instead of hibernation: Mac closes all programs and unsaved documents are lost

Instead of hibernation, the Mac logs the user off completely

My wife always has the funniest problems with her Mac, while my Mac usually works without a hitch. For me this is very practical because I always have food for my blog, but Ms. Apfelot is rather annoyed about it.

Mac logs the user out completely instead of going to sleep

The latest thing at Apfelot was that my wife's iMac suddenly showed the following behavior after a macOS update. After a few minutes of idleness, the iMac should actually go to sleep and ask for the password when it wakes up.

After waking up from hibernation, all programs and documents should still be open - but they weren't. The cause: an incorrect system setting.

After waking up from hibernation, all programs and documents should still be open - but they weren't. The cause: an incorrect system setting.

This has been the case for the last few years, until a few days ago, following an update to save energy, he not only switched off the monitor, but also completely logged off the user. In connection with this, all programs were closed and files with unsaved changes were also simply closed.

You can imagine that this is quite annoying: You go for a quick coffee, have a thousand tabs and some unsecured documents open and come back and the Mac just restarts ... Work from the last few hours is partly lost and all because you briefly Has left work.

The "Security and Privacy" system settings also contain an option that instructs the Mac to completely log the user off after a specified period of time (screenshots: Sir Apfelot).

The "Security and Privacy" system settings also contain an option that instructs the Mac to completely log the user off after a specified period of time (screenshots: Sir Apfelot).

Cause: Option "Log off after X minutes of inactivity"

I couldn't begin with my wife's description of the error, but after a short googling she found out what caused this behavior: an option called "Log off after X minutes of inactivity".

And that's exactly what was obviously activated automatically by the macOS update, because you don't accidentally stumble upon this setting. It is hidden in the following path:

System settings → Security & privacy → More options (bottom right in the window) → "Log out after X minutes of inactivity"

This option was suddenly activated and caused the problems, because instead of at least canceling the logout if there are still unsaved changes to files, these files are simply closed without you having the chance to save them.

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8 comments

  1. Holger says:

    Hi,

    Are you sure that it was not activated manually?

    For me, this option was not switched on automatically.

    Greetings Holger

    • Jens Kleinholz says:

      Hello Holger! Yes, 100% sure ... at first my wife didn't even know where to find the option and when you look at how to get there, you can tell that you don't activate it by accident. But there are several people in various forums who had the same problem after an update. So I assume that we are dealing with a bug in the updater. It was a Catalina update too. My wife can't run Big Sur on her old iMac yet.

  2. Stephan Schwenk says:

    Can I also confirm: New MacBook Pro with Big Sur had been in use for a week and after a short break all previously open programs were closed and my user was logged off. It also took me a while to find the right attitude.

  3. Michael says:

    WOW !!
    Excellent! This is THE info that I needed for over a year. My Mac also annoyed me. Irregular. Apparently even after an update. Even Apple's hotline had no advice except: delete apps, gradually reinstall them and keep an eye on them. Bug reports were sent to various supporters and analyzed there.
    But none of that helped. The cause remained hidden - until ... yes, until Lady Apfelot also experienced this problem :) Thank you Lady Apfelot and thank you Sir Apfelot

  4. pi says:

    Thank you, I have tolerated this obsolescence for far too long because I thought it was about nightly system updates that the Mac always does not perform, for example because unsecured notes prevent it from shutting down. I was kindly asked. But: In my MacOS Catalina 10.15.7 the option looks different. There is only "Password required (time) after the start of the idle state" and "Deactivate automatic login". There is nothing to unsubscribe from the user, and neither does it say shutdown of programs. Isn't it because of the updates? “About this Mac> Software update…> Automatically update my Mac” is switched off, so it shouldn't work.

    • Jens Kleinholz says:

      Hello Pi! My wife's iMac isn't running Big Sur either, and she has the option. The Mac usually pauses for updates if a program is still open and has unsaved changes. It could be the updates of course ... but see when it happens. Maybe it is always when an update is delivered. But usually the Mac won't install this automatically if you turned the option off. I'm sorry, but I'm a little on the tube. : D

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