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My terminal somehow turned into some kind of a text editor; I open it up and the window title says "Terminal - Login - 130x33" with no prompt, just a black window with a cursor like any text editor. My understanding of the problem is that the is not running bash when it starts.

I tried deleting the Terminal's preferences file and changing the "shell opens with" setting in the Terminal preferences but nothing works.

Any ideas to fix this?

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migrated from Oct 24 '10 at 12:13

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

question for superuser – Drakosha Oct 24 '10 at 11:44

It sounds like your default shell got incorrectly set. You will need another program that is capable of executing a command, I suggest grabbing a copy of MacVim. If you do not have a second program of executing a command and do not want to install one then your only option is single user mode.


  1. Load up a document, it can be empty.
  2. Press Escape to enter Standard Mode.
  3. Type ! chsh -s /bin/bash <USERNAME> replacing with your user name.
  4. Press enter.
  5. Enter your password. It will not echo '*' as you type characters so just type and press enter when done.
  6. Open a terminal. Assuming your issue was a incorrectly set shell then it should behave normally.

Single User Mode

  1. Boot your mac (if a laptop make sure the monitor is open).
  2. As soon as the screen comes on press the S key.
  3. When given a prompt run the command mount -uw /
  4. Next run launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
  5. Finally run chsh -s /bin/bash <USERNAME> replacing with your user name.
  6. Reboot.
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This means that the login program is waiting for login to complete. In the meantime, anything you type into the terminal is echo'd for display.

A common cause of this is a hung "sudo" process. If you invoke sudo and it prompts you for your password, but you close the terminal, sudo will wait forever, and it blocks any further logins until you kill the sudo process.

To clear up the problem, you can use Activity Monitor to Force Quit "sudo". Otherwise, you'll have to logout (or restart) to clear up the problem.

I believe sudo was fixed in Mac OS X Lion 10.7 to notice when the terminal goes away while waiting for the password.

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I was experiencing a similar issue. I restarted my laptop and currently I’m able to run a bash/zsh/csh shell through Apple’s Terminal application. I also gave iTerm a try and it works flawlessly.

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-1: This is not an answer – Wuffers Jan 30 '11 at 2:49

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