The Pane Login

The pane Login controls system preference settings for the login screen that shows the entry panel for name and password that is displayed before an actual user session can begin. Mac OS X will only use a login if you haven’t configured it to perform an automatic login with a predefined user account. You can enable the login by using the sequence Users & Groups > Login Options > Automatic login: Disabled in System Preferences.

Note: Mac OS X Snow Leopard uses a login window. Mac OS X Lion or later uses a login screen with less features.

Options you modify in the Login pane of TinkerTool System will take effect immediately. To return the login window preferences to the factory settings defined by Apple, press the button Reset all to defaults at the lower right corner of the window. Note that pressing this button will affect all options of the tab items offered by the Login pane, not only the options visible in the front item.

Window (Snow Leopard) — Screen (Lion or later)

Settings mentioned in this section are not supported for OS X Mountain Lion or OS X Mavericks.

The first tab controls the basic style of the login window or login screen, respectively. You can switch between using

Login screen settings
Login screen settings

If the latter option is selected, you will be able to further influence which users should be included in the list:

Depending on the list of user accounts found on the local system and in network directory services, the login window application may choose to ignore one or all of the above settings. This is necessary to guarantee that at least one user can successfully log in. Otherwise, it could happen that the list is empty which would render the system unusable.

Additional options allow the control which buttons should be displayed at the bottom of the window:

Special Features

The login screen is capable of supporting several advanced features for professional users. An additional text message can be displayed just above the user selection fields. Enter or copy/paste the text into the editor at Additional message to display and press the button Save Text to apply your changes. Mac OS X will use the Lucida Grande font in standard size to display the text. It will be laid out in centered fashion. If the message is too long, the login window will automatically enable a scroll-bar which can be used to browse through the text. The scroll-bar is no longer available in Lion or later. Here, the system will display the first three lines of the text only. The optional message can be useful to display a disclaimer, important notes, or legal terms under which this computer can be used.

Special features
Special features

By default, the login window will display the computer’s name between the headline and the user selection fields. After clicking on the computer name, the login window will switch to alternative status displays which will replace the name by the following items:

In Mac OS X Lion or later, this feature is very limited only. After clicking on the clock display in the upper right corner, you can switch to displaying the computer name, the operating system version and the primary IP address. The settings Header and Delay before accepting login described in the following paragraphs are not available.

By using the pop-up button Header, the login window can be configured to begin with a different display after initial startup. The item Default Setting will switch to Apple’s recommended setting for the headline. The option Computer Name is also available.

Up-to-date versions of Mac OS X are using an aggressive strategy to start the computer: Nearly all system services are allowed to launch in parallel, without the necessity to wait for each other. This will cause the total startup phase to become shorter, especially on computers with multiple processors. However, the login window may become visible “too early”, when some system services, in particular the ones that communicate with external servers to allow logins with network accounts, have not completely started in the background yet. Network users that attempt to login, and enter their credentials during that early state, might mistakenly be rejected by Mac OS X, because the links to the network services authenticating users have not been established yet.

To solve this problem, you can either force the login window to display the directory services status in its header (see the previous paragraph), and tell network users not to log in before the status turns from red to green, or you can establish an additional delay before logins will be accepted. Use the slider or text field at Delay before accepting login to specify a time interval between 0 and 180 seconds (3 minutes).

Another “pro” feature of the login screen is its capability to shutdown the graphical user interface, switching to operation in classic UNIX text mode instead. This is done by entering the text >console as user name and specifying no password. The user will then receive a login request from the Darwin base operating system. You can disable this feature by checking the option Don’t allow to switch to text mode via “>console”.

If you have installed more than one version of Mac OS X on one computer, the operating system will support the additional feature that user accounts from one installation can log into the operating system of another installation. This is called an external user account. The option Enable external accounts controls if the login window of your current operating system should allow these other users to log in.


This setting is not supported by Mac OS X Lion or later.

The tab item Background allows you to choose the background picture the system should use while the login window is being displayed. The controls used by TinkerTool System are similar to the ones you already know from the Desktop & Screen Saver pane of System Preferences. When no background image has been specified yet, the system will select a default screen itself. You can choose another image by selecting one of the picture families in the table at the left, then selecting one of the pictures in the browser at the right side. After a background picture has been chosen, its name and preview will be shown at the top.

Background (Mac OS X Snow Leopard)
Background (Mac OS X Snow Leopard)

The special item Select picture… in the list of picture families can be used to select any other valid graphics file for the background image. Mac OS X will accept graphics files in the formats PNG, PDF, TIFF, PICT, JPEG-JFIF, JPEG 2000, BMP, GIF, PSD, SGI, or TGA.

A TIFF file with 72 dpi and a pixel resolution matching your display screen is recommended. The image will be presented before a user logs in, which means that the permission settings of the image file must allow all users to read it.

You can reset the background picture of the login screen to default by pressing the button Remove customization.

Screen Saver

If desired, you can choose the screen saver used for the login screen. Set a check mark at Enable Screen Saver and select an activation time (Start screen saver after…). The interval can be set either by entering the numerical value in minutes, or by using a slider. The type of screen saver will be determined by the setting Use module at path. Press the button Select… to navigate to one of the screen saver plug-ins available in your installation of Mac OS X. You can also select third-party screen savers under the condition that they can be opened by everyone. Note that the login screen does not allow to specify any additional options for the screen saver. It will always run with its preconfigured default settings.

Screen saver
Screen saver