Toggling the login window

Fantastically brief and remarkable one, this.

If you run a system with hidden users (which may sound bizarre and creepy on the face of it, but it’s something occasionally required on MDM-managed installs) and you want to log in as that user on your computer then this is a useful tip that used to be available in macOS documentation back when macOS was good old-fashioned OS X. It seems to have disappeared now, which is a shame, but it’s also pretty cool that it’s quietly persisted over the last dozen OS versions.

The default display at the login window is the icon view for each user; click on the user, enter the password (or authenticate via TouchID) and you’re in. Great. But if you want to be able to set that login window to display Username/Password fields then you have to log in, go to the System Preferences and make changes there so that the next time you log in you get that option. It’s a drag, because it’s a bunch of extra steps. If only there were a quick and easy way of toggling between those login window options. You can see where this is going.

Here’s how to do it:

• At the login window – when presented with the icons for each user – don’t click on anything. Instead, tap the left or right arrow on the keyboard to highlight a user. If it’s not your main user then that doesn’t matter; the trick is to highlight something.

• Hit Option-Return on the keyboard, and the window will switch to Username/Password fields, thus allowing you to type in the short name and password of the user you want to log in as.

You can hit Option-Return again to toggle back, but as the change is only for that login window session you’ll get your normal icon view back the next time you log in…