It appears that since I upgraded to OS X Yosemite, and fiddled with some of the energy saver and screen saver settings, that my user is logged out due to inactivity.

Where is the setting where I can turn this off and not allow my user to be automatically logged off when inactive?


6 Answers 6


The option is found in the System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General > Advanced dialog.

The first option is a check box with text Log out after [NN - spin button] minutes of inactivity

The spin button enables one to set the number of minutes of inactivity.

Kudos to the user Alistair McMillan who posted the answer over in the AskDifferent stack exchange.

Read the full thread here.

  • 4
    You can not imagine how long I have tried to find this!! Thanks a lot!! (Each time I woke up in the morning, I got the 'could not logout' message, due to iTerm etc. still being open. Very annoying hehe) Dec 2, 2015 at 1:27
  • 2
    This was a lifesaver! The logout was driving me craaaaa-zzzaayyy.
    – ecbrodie
    May 14, 2020 at 17:49

You can prevent your Mac to automatically log out the current user after a set period of inactivity by this way -

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences
  2. Click Security & Privacy
  3. Click General
  4. Click the lock icon 🔒to unlock it
  5. Enter an administrator name and password
  6. Click Advanced
  7. Uncheck “Log out after... minutes of inactivity”
  8. Click Ok

You can also check OS X Yosemite: Set your Mac to log out when not in use

  • 1
    Nice use of step-by-step written instructions, may I suggest you add step 9 to click the <unlock-icon> to lock the user preferences?
    – qxotk
    Aug 11, 2017 at 14:53
  • Excellent reference to the apple support documentation also, well done.
    – qxotk
    Aug 11, 2017 at 14:55

Go into System Preferences> Users & Groups> Then click on the button that says Automatic Logout.

  • 1
    There is no "Users", only "Users & Groups". No "Other Options"! Feb 17, 2015 at 12:06
  • A button "Automatic Logout" does not exist there.
    – Elmue
    Jul 18, 2019 at 17:06

If what you want is for your mac screen to stay on. The great answers above will only get you part of the way there. Under the security and privacy general tab de-select the require password. This will stop the request for a password and allow the computer to screen to stay on if all other "screen saving" is turned off.

Caution - This will forcibly remove apple pay.

  • I think the answer could be more useful if you also state in your "Caution" that the computer will not be locked at all during the time the display remains on.
    – qxotk
    Nov 18, 2019 at 18:35

i had mistaken require password for log out after X minutes of inactivity

that setting is also under the General tab of Security & Privacy near the top, first checkmark

(macOS catalina)

  • I see you are a new user. You can improve your answer and possibly earn up-votes by changing from your answer from describing your experience to a "how-to" achieve the goal described in the question when using macOS Catalina. For example:. "In macOS Catalina, Follow these steps: ..." I think that would be useful information to those who read this post going forward.
    – qxotk
    Sep 1, 2020 at 21:15

Choose Apple menu > System Settings..., then click Privacy & Security in the sidebar. Click ‍‍Advanced at the bottom. Then switch off Log out automatically after inactivity.

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