My mac is in the process of deleting an account. So far it's taken like 5 hours. I thought that isn't how long it should take so I was wondering if their is a way to stop deleting the account.

I looked this up before. It said go to top menu and select force quit, but force quit isn't there. I tried restarting to and I might just have to run it flat.

How can I resolve this?

  • I don't use mac but if it were windows i would hit the power button, and try again.
    – 09stephenb
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 9:25

4 Answers 4


Once the secure user deletion process is in progress, you cannot reboot or shut the machine down using the normal shutdown process - System Preferences will cancel the shutdown, and it won't let you close itself either.

The solution is to open a command-line terminal and run the following command:

sudo reboot

You'll need to have sudo privileges, which probably means you need to be on an administrator account. This command will bypass the normal shutdown check and will reboot the machine. Once the reboot finishes you will may discover that the user has been removed from the users and groups list in System Preferences, but that the user's files still exist. In this case you will need to manually dispose of them. Again, in the terminal you can do this with a command like the one below. BE CAREFUL to only delete the old user's files as this bypasses the trash and directly deletes everything recursively starting at the folder you specify.

cd /Users/
rm -fr <user name>

You will probably need to prepend the actual "rm" command with "sudo", so again make sure you are deleting the right thing before hitting enter.

This isn't a secure delete, so if you want to do a better job than a simple delete but without waiting around for each file to be overwritten 35 times you can simply fill up the free space of the drive with random data or zeros using the following command:

diskutil secureErase freespace 1 '/Volumes/Macintosh HD'

You can replace "1" with "0" in the above command to write zeros instead of random data; this should be significantly faster. Be sure to include "freespace", this is important to make sure it only overwrites the free space on your drive. If your drive is called something other than "Macintosh HD" substitute that name instead. You can run:

ls /Volumes

to get an idea of what the name might be; if you have other things mounted like disk images they will also show up, so ignore those.

The nice thing about the above diskutil command is that it will provide you with an estimate of how long it will take and show you how much is done. In my case it indicated a one pass random erase would take about 9 hours, and a one pass zero fill erase would take about 1 hour.


One step which should be added to this list is to remove the incomplete DMG backup file of the user's account, created by the interrupted task.

While still in the Terminal window (Terminal app is inside the Utilities folder):

    sudo bash

This allows you to become root, by providing your own password.

    cd /Users/Deleted\ Users/
    rm -rf <username.dmg>

Always exit from your sudo activities, just to avoid major mistakes.


You can just hold ctrl+cmd and the power button to restart the mac and it will let you close users & group preferences.Also remove the account

  • Hi there, welcome to Superuser! The question asker has stated that they've already restarted and this hasn't solved their issue. If your solution is different than that, please explain how exactly it differs.
    – baelx
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 19:37

I just held option down and right clicked on Settings and force quit. Worked like a charm.


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