Try These Fixes for the macOS ‘Permanent Screensaver’ Bug

Try These Fixes for the macOS ‘Permanent Screensaver’ Bug
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A weird bug is affecting some owners of Apples’ M1 line of Macs (laptops and desktops) that triggers the macOS screensaver to run at random times. That doesn’t sound so bad at first — who doesn’t love Flurry? — except for the even quirkier issue that once it’s turned on, an affected Mac’s screensaver can’t be turned off.

You’re basically locked out of your system if you’re hit with this bug, which seems to be related to macOS’ “Fast User Switching” feature. If you’re only using one account on your MacBook, you probably won’t be affected by this bug; however, if you have multiple accounts on your Mac, you might want to take a few steps to address the issue before it locks you out of your system at an inconvenient time.

For starters, if you can get away with only using one account for now, try that. I realise that’s strange advice, but if you set up a new account for a family member and they’ve never used it, for example, then maybe consider getting rid of it until Apple has addressed this issue (or said family member needs to get on the computer, finally).

You can also try this trick, courtesy of a MacRumors commenter writes:

I had the same problem on my mini, I tried disabling the screensaver on both users and installing Amphetamine, and it fixed the problem. I hope a fix is on the way, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one having the issue.

It also appears that Apple Support has been telling people to try entering this command in Terminal, which disables the timeout on the login screen itself:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver loginWindowIdleTime 0

That should prevent the issue from affecting your Mac. You can also try “disabling” Fast User Switching. I’m hesitant to recommend that as my first troubleshooting technique, as System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Options lets you remove the Fast User Switching menu from your Menu Bar, but I don’t believe that disables it. Still, it’s worth a shot if you want to try a quick and easy fix first.

Another ingenious solution comes from this MacRumors commenter:

The solution I have found to work every time is to set a “hot corner” of the screen to put the display to sleep. Then, when this screensaver bug occurs, simply mouse to the corner, let the screen sleep for a few seconds, and then move the mouse again to wake it up. The screensaver will stop. Hope this helps.

You can also try installing the macOS 11.2 Big Sur beta, which reportedly fixes the problem for good. Otherwise, memorise this key combination — Command + Option + Power Button — and use that to sleep your system if you have an unresponsive screensaver. Once your Mac awakens, you should be able to access your computer as you normally would.

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