10 Replies Latest reply: Nov 20, 2008 2:22 PM by techhelpdm
nojetlag Level 1 (0 points)
Hi there,
on my iMac with OS X 10.5.5 today a user account disappeared from the login screen as well from the system preferences. However the folder on the hard disk is still there. When I try to create a new account it tells me that a folder with the name exists and if I would like to use it. After confirming that again no account is there. Any help is very much appreciated.

iMac 24", Mac OS X (10.5.5)
  • webwinger Level 1 (0 points)
    I just had exactly the same experience. Any luck fixing your problem?

  • jdurchen Level 1 (0 points)
    This just happened to me too. Have you resloved this yet? This is my main account that disappeared.
  • MJohnson16 Level 1 (0 points)
    You are describing my problem this morning.

    I had 2 accounts on my MacBook. An Admin account and a Standard User account. The computer came out of sleep mode okay but started to slow down and give me the spinning beach ball. I was able to do a normal restart. But when the computer came back up tot he login screen, only the admin account was listed.

    I can login as the admin account. And I can see that the data is still in the User folder of the missing account. So it seems the only thing I have lost is the ability to log in as that second user.

    I've Zapped the PRAM, fixed Permissions, and Repaired Disk with no change.

    It does seem slow to reboot and login but can't see anything specific wrong. I'm baffled at the moment. I have a good back up and will probably just wipe it and restore but would rather know what happened.
  • js_henry Level 1 (0 points)
    Did you find a solution to this problem?

    The exact same thing happened to me today on an 2 GHz Intel Imac. My son's account vanished. When I log in as admin, I can see his user folder.

    If I try to create a user account using the same name (his), I get a prompt "Would you like to use that folder as the home folder for this user account". When I click "OK", nothing happens, and I still don't have the user account.

    Any suggestions?
  • Topher Kessler Level 6 (9,865 points)
    Can folks please include more information? What was going on when the accounts just disappeared? What applications were installed? Did you restart the computer only to have this problem occur? Did it happen upon logout?

    Can you try moving the old user folder from the "Users" directory to some other location and then recreate the account?

    Can you create new accounts with different usernames?

    Has this happened more than once?
  • js_henry Level 1 (0 points)
    My son was using the account when it disappeared during a system crash. None of this started until "Madden NFL 08" was installed late last month, but this may be coincidental. The game certainly contributed to the crashes.

    I can't recreate the account with the same name by pointing to the existing folder in the "Users" directory. All the screen prompts work, but it just doesn't happen. I CAN create a new account with a new name.

    I was able to copy the folder of the deleted account, but cannot rename it. As to moving the old folder from the users directory and recreating it, I'm prompted to "authenticate" each time I move it anywhere, and I don't see how this will solve the problem since I need the folder in order to recreate the account.

    Finally, this has happened only once - two weeks ago - and I have been dealing with it intermittently since then as time allows. Meanwhile my son has no access to schoolwork, bookmarks, etc.

    Based on what I've read here, there's a system problem of some sort.

    ...and no, I haven't tried logging in at the terminal level. The prospect of doing that terrifies me.

    Thanks for any help...
  • super7 Level 1 (15 points)
    I came across the same issue. I fixed this issue by doing the following:
    *NOTE: This really ****** me off and required strange things to fix
    *NOTE: For the purposes of understanding this issue I will call the missing useraccount
    missingac "This is the short name for the user account"
    1. open a terminal
    2. enter in the terminal window
    sudo mv /Users/missingac /Users/missingac_bak
    3. Open WorkGroup Manager
    *Note: This is a server software that may not come standardly installed on your machine if not you may need to download it from the apple site, not sure but I had it since im a system administrator.
    4. At the workgroup manager login prompt enter the following:
    User Name: adminname (replace this with your admin name)
    Password: adminpassword ( replace this with your admin password)
    5. At the top bar you will see a + sign labled New User. Click on this
    6. It will pre populate the Name: and User ID: field you will need ot change these to the missing users information.
    7. Open the terminal window again and do the following.
    cd /Users/
    ls -la
    8. Take note of the number that is next to the missingac ie..
    drwxr-xr-x 316 502 missing_ac 10744 Nov 14 18:25 missingac_bak/
    The number in bold 502 is the number you want to remember its in the third column on that line.
    9. In the User ID: field in WorkGroup Manager put that number in there
    MAKE SURE THE username is the same one that came up missing.
    10. Now click save
    11. Now after the user has been created delete the user by selecting it again and clicking the DELETE button next to New User.
    12. Quit Workgroup manager
    13. Launch System Preferences.
    14. Now recreate you user with all the correct information in system preferences.
    15. Once complete and your user shows up. Hold down the control key and click the user name in the left panel that corresponds to your old missing username.
    16. Select Advanced Options
    17. In the User ID: Field put that number that in my example was 502 in the User ID: Field.
    18. In the terminal window do the following:
    sudo mv /Users/missingac_bak /Users/missingac
    That makes your old directory name the same as it use to be. I know your wondering why you have to do all this. I wonder myself but it must have something to do with corrupt user information some how hanging around as a result of the crash that caused the power cycle.
    19. Now press OK in the advanced options screen save everything and reboot.

    YAY Now your user is back and all your settings are still there. Why this happened I DO NOT KNOW. Will this work for you NOT SURE!!!! Try at your own risk. This worked for me and my issue sounded IDENTICAL to what was described here.

    I tried doing all this in SYstem Preferences and not using workgroup manager but it would not delete this corrupt latent existence of my missing user it for some reasn would not work until I created the user in workgroup then deleted it. Not sure why. Each previous attempt in ststem prefs would fail for some reason. Thought I would share in case this helps someone else.
  • chrisatnku Level 1 (0 points)
    I just booted up one of our MacPros and the non-administrator account was gone. We have 20 computers in the lab (I'm on a college campus) with exactly the same setup (clones of each other, actually) and they have booted without error.
  • js_henry Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for your help on this matter. I'm following your directions in a verrrry cautious manner. One problem is that in step 8 I'm unclear on which number is the UID. As I hope you can see below, the numbers are the same for several accounts. Can you tell by looking which one I should try?

    the account in question is "joehenry".

    Don't worry, I understand this is helpful guidance, and I understand the risk and your disclaimer.

    I simply appreciate a helpful voice...


    charlie-4:Users scotthenry$ cd /Users
    charlie-4:Users scotthenry$ ls -la
    total 0
    drwxr-xr-x 9 root admin 306 Nov 18 20:31 .
    drwxrwxr-t 36 root admin 1292 Nov 9 11:37 ..
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 0 Sep 23 2007 .localized
    drwxrwxrwt 4 root wheel 136 Feb 2 2008 Shared
    drwxr-xr-x 17 aaronhenry staff 578 Feb 25 2008 aaronhenry
    drwxr-xr-x 16 scotthenry admin 544 Nov 9 11:18 joehenry copy
    drwxr-xr-x+ 16 scotthenry admin 544 Nov 9 11:36 joehenry_bac
    drwxr-xr-x 17 pattihenry staff 578 Nov 18 20:17 pattihenry
    drwxr-xr-x 18 scotthenry staff 612 Nov 18 19:27 scotthenry
  • techhelpdm Level 1 (0 points)
    I have had this happen 3 times on 3 separate machines. Each time it's been fixed by doing this.

    From the command line run :
    rm /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/users/shortusername.plist

    Where shortname is the shortname of the account in question.

    Then go into account preferences and recreate the account, it will ask if you want to use the existing home folder say yes and all should be well.