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How to change user without closing applications running, on Leopard and Snow Leopard?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

In Preferences under Accounts > "Login Options" you can enable fast user switching by selecting the "Show fast user switching menu as: [Icon, Name, Short name]". After that you should see an user menu on the menubar. Just select "Login window" and you'll be able to login as another user without logging out.

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The answer for command-line based enabling of switching is also quite relevant. Posting here as a cross-reference.

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