What is opendirectoryd and why is this process running on my Mac?

Today we'll take another look at a macOS process that you may have seen before Activity indicator of the Apple Mac. It is the background process opendirectoryd, which has long been a part of Mac OS X, OS X and macOS. But what tasks does it perform and how can you adapt them? I will answer these and other questions for you in this guide. I also go into troubleshooting that can solve a high CPU load or a high RAM load caused by the process.

What does the opendirectoryd process do under macOS on the Apple Mac? What is the Open Directory and what do you do if its background process uses too much CPU and RAM? Here you will find all the answers.
What does the opendirectoryd process do under macOS on the Apple Mac? What is the Open Directory and what do you do if its background process uses too much CPU and RAM? Here you will find all the answers.

The opendirectoryd process on the Mac: users, groups and data exchange

The “Open Directory” was launched in 2002 as a directory service Mac OS X 10.2 introduced and uses the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) for directory access on the Mac. The task of the Apple Open Directory is to store and organize connection information for users and groups on the Mac and in the local network.

This not only enables individual folders to be shared at home, but also and above all the management of multiple Macs and their collaboration in a network by network administrators. In the logged in account, network shares and communications are managed by the opendirectoryd process.

This also explains the name of the background process automatically loaded by the system: Open Directory Daemon. A daemon is an automatically activated and independently acting process of the operating system that, as a human-machine interface, is intended to make the use of the computer easier. I have summarized the details for you here: What is a daemon?

The opendirectoryd process manages shared folders and the access rights that apply to them, access and communication on the local network, mounted drives and storage from the network, and similar matters. Another network task that can occur both in the office and at home is connecting and communicating with a WiFi printer. Opendirectoryd (along with airportd and others) is also used here.

Adjust Open Directory settings (only recommended for professionals)

Of course, computer network administrators must be able to centrally access connections, access rights and other options. And this also works on the Mac under macOS. In current operating systems with the new design of the system settings (from macOS 13 Adventure) you can get to the corresponding options as follows:

  1. Click on the in the top left Apple logo
  2. In its menu select the System settings ... from
  3. Controls the area via the left sidebar Users & Groups an
  4. Click the “Edit…” button next to “Network Account Server”.
  5. In the window that opens, click on the “Open directory services…” button
To customize entries and settings in the directory service, follow the step-by-step instructions in this area of ​​Mac System Preferences. However, you should only make changes if you are familiar with network administration.
To customize entries and settings in the directory service, follow the step-by-step instructions in this area of ​​Mac System Preferences. However, you should only make changes if you are familiar with network administration.

As a layperson you shouldn't make any changes here, but only work with these settings if you really know the subject. The operating system actually makes it easy enough – if you spend a little time with the corresponding options – to share folders, use storage devices integrated into the network or print via WLAN printers. You don't have to interfere with the directory service.

Problem: opendirectoryd causes CPU load or maxes out RAM

Especially in private household use, it shouldn't happen that opendirectoryd puts too much strain on the processor (CPU) or uses up the main memory (RAM). However, if you notice in the activity monitor that the Mac has become slow because of exactly this process, then save your current projects and restart the computer. In most cases, this should complete the solution to the problem.

If the problems with opendirectoryd persist, you can check your network and the devices integrated into it. Is there something wrong with the connection to another Mac? Are there problems using network storage or servers? Then, if necessary, the connection and the storage device itself should be checked for errors. Printers, scanners and the like connected via WLAN can and should also be checked if troubleshooting on the Mac doesn't help.

If the problems with opendirectoryd occur in a larger, professional network, then you should consult an IT specialist or the network administration. Especially if restarting the Mac doesn't help or isn't possible. The experts are more familiar with the Open Directory and can search for errors more specifically. If you are such an expert and have tips for problems with opendirectoryd, please leave a comment!

Summary: opendirectoryd is an essential part of macOS

Directory services, i.e. the Open Directory, have been an integral part of the Mac operating system for over 20 years. Of course, the settings and usage options visible in the foreground also require processes in the background that enable smooth operations. The macOS daemon “opendirectoryd” is one of them, but of course not the only one. Airportd for managing WiFi connections is also important. Furthermore there is bluetoothd for Bluetooth connections, searchpartyd For "Where is?" and many more.

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