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Question: sierra lock screen on remote desktop

I have a mac pro 5.1 that I recently upgraded to sierra. The machine is headless, because it is acting as a server.

Before the upgrade I could access the screen of the machine through the remote desktop app. If the screen was locked I could unlock it with a user's password.

Since the upgrade, if the screen gets locked when I connect with remote desktop I see a black screen and a lock flashes imediately after connecting.

I tried to configure a password-less login for the single user on the machine, but occasionally the screen gets locked anyway.

How can I prevent the screen locks ? Or alternatively be able to see the lock screen through remote desktop to remotely unlock it ?


Posted on Feb 14, 2017 2:01 AM


Feb 14, 2017 2:32 AM in response to Daniel Santos In response to Daniel Santos

There are two possible issues here.

  1. The default behaviour is that when a Remote Desktop session ends the screen is immediately locked, this can be turned off so it does not lock by using the following command defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.RemoteManagement RestoreMachineState -bool NO
  2. The second possibility is that the old way to allow unlocking the screensaver of a logged in admin level user via another account via 'Option Return' has changed, you now need to use this command /usr/bin/security authorizationdb write system.login.screensaver "authenticate-session-owner-or-admin" this command is backwards compatible so can also be used on previous versions of OS X, you need to reboot for it to take effect

If neither of these apply then it sounds like a Sierra specific issue to do with headless machines. In this case other than waiting for Apple to fix the issue you could consider getting a plug which tricks the Mac in to thinking it has a monitor connected and therefore is not 'headless'. See this as an example http://www.newertech.com/products/hdmi_headless_video_adapter.php

Note: The above plug also has the benefit that because the Mac thinks a monitor is attached it then keeps the video chip active which significantly speeds up screen sharing.

Feb 14, 2017 2:32 AM

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Feb 15, 2017 2:15 PM in response to John Lockwood In response to John Lockwood

I tried your first suggestion. I will now wait to see if it locks the screen again.

It is strange because I have three nearly identical (only difference is memory size) mac pros which came from the same supplier (they are refurbs), and had El Capitan installed. I then upgraded them to Sierra, and that's when one particular machine started with this behaviour. The other two don't lock the screen.

Thanks for your help

Feb 15, 2017 2:15 PM

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Feb 20, 2017 3:30 AM in response to John Lockwood In response to John Lockwood


An update on this issue. After trying suggestion 1, it didn't lock the screen for some days. Yesterday, I went on to install a software package (VirtualBox), and mid installation process after I clicked a "next" button on the install wizard, the screen went black. I connected a monitor to the machine, and it was in the lock screen. I logged in, and the installation program disappeared. It obviously crashed. I then retried the installation and it succeeded (with the monitor connected).

I will now try suggestion number 2, and see how it goes.

Feb 20, 2017 3:30 AM

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Question: sierra lock screen on remote desktop