Some M1 Macs Affected By Fast User Switching Screensaver Bug

A growing number of user reports online suggest some of Apple's M1 Mac models are susceptible to a Fast User Switching bug that spontaneously activates the screensaver and leaves the user unable to dismiss it.

macbook pro screensaver table
In macOS Big Sur, Fast User Switching allows users to quickly switch between user accounts without having to completely log out. Based on posts in the MacRumors forums, Apple Community forums, and on Reddit, however, a screensaver can sometimes take over the screen of Apple Silicon Macs without notice, rendering the desktop workspace completely unavailable.

While the screensaver appears on the screen, the mouse pointer is still on top and moving, but nothing else works, and users have to close and re-open the lid on their MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, or light press the Power/Touch ID key or use the Alt-Command-Q key combination to get back to the login page.

MacRumors forum member drmacnut:

Brand new Mac mini M1, 2nd day using it, Big Sur macOS 11.1 (20C69) with screensaver and screen sleep set to 20 mins. I was actively editing some Calendar entries when all of a sudden the same exact thing happened (screensaver on, user locked out). I ended up using Remote Access from my MBP to get in and log out the user on the Mini. The Mac mini then jumped to the login screen and it's working fine again now. Very weird.

Apple Community forums member Squeaks2369:

I am experiencing the same issue. M1 MacBook Air. Big Sur 11.0.1. Happens on two separate user accounts, both with the screensaver disabled. No way to exit the screensaver but to close then open the lid. Happens a few times a day while actively using the computer. Browsing various forums it appears others are having this issue as well.

Video shared by MacRumors forum member dawideksl

Disabling Fast User Switching prevents the issue from happening, but that obviously leaves the login feature inaccessible. Having the screensaver disabled in System Preferences for all users doesn't seem to make a difference either.

The issue has been reported on ‌M1‌ ‌MacBook Air‌, ‌M1‌ 13-inch MacBook Pro, and ‌M1‌ Mac mini models, and occurs on all versions of macOS Big Sur, including the latest 11.1 update. Affected users are advised to submit feedback to Apple to hopefully facilitate a fix.

(Thanks, Chris!)

Top Rated Comments

Carlson-online Avatar
20 months ago
I've had the same issue on the 16" Macbook Pro, so I think it's more likely a big sur bug, than an M1 issue.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
calstanford Avatar
20 months ago
I haven't used a screen'saver' since I've switched to LCD screens 25 years ago. So I haven't noticed.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
skardvin Avatar
20 months ago
No wonder when Craig Federighi opened the M1 MacBook Air to show off the spontaneous wake from sleep that it didn't have this issue...?? he must have had to disable fast user switching first before filming. ?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
eddjedi Avatar
20 months ago
I'm sure they will fix it soon enough, but things like this are why I never jump on major architecture changes immediately. If you depend on your device for work, you need some level of stability. I'm keen to migrate to Apple Silicon, but will probably wait until 'M2'
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cwizou Avatar
20 months ago
Author of a macOS screensaver here (Aerial), since the introduction of Catalina (which changed a lot of things for screensavers), I've had users report that exact kind of issue. In some cases, ScreenSaverEngine (the "app" that hosts the screensaver) will lose focus and you see those exact symptoms.

You will see your mouse pointer when you move it around (it's not supposed to) and few things short of Cmd + Opt + Shift + Esc will work. You can also use mouse gestures like trigger Exposé, which is really weird. During the Big Sur beta, this used to happen fairly often with no obvious cause.

My best assessment of the issue is that usually, another app will steal the focus. Something like the crash report window for some other program that crashed in the background will steal the focus by being put up to front. It's quite possible that fast user switching triggers this loss of focus more often, but I don't think this is either specific to M1 or Big Sur.

Hopefully they will start looking into this !
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Serban55 Avatar
20 months ago

I'm sure they will fix it soon enough, but things like this are why I never jump on major architecture changes immediately. If you depend on your device for work, you need some level of stability. I'm keen to migrate to Apple Silicon, but will probably wait until 'M2'
Its an soft issue not an m1
We had on the 16” mbp also for some weeks now
So if this is not fixed on software level..you will get this with m2 or m30 as well
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

mac studio renders Large

Alleged 'Mac Studio' Renders Surface Ahead of Tomorrow's 'Peek Performance' Apple Event

Monday March 7, 2022 7:07 am PST by
Renders alleged to be the "Mac Studio," described as a hybrid between a Mac Pro and Mac mini, have surfaced online just a day before Apple holds its "Peek Performance" event, where at least one new Mac is expected to be announced. The renders were shared by YouTuber Luke Miani, and shows a design similar to the Mac mini, with a very similar footprint but approximately four-inches tall...
13 inch macbook pro m2 mock feature 2

New M2-Powered MacBooks Could Be Conspicuously Absent At Today's Apple Event

Tuesday March 8, 2022 6:58 am PST by
Last-minute rumors leading up to Apple's "Peek Performance" event have cast doubt on long-running expectations that Apple will reveal a new or updated MacBook model with an M2 chip on Tuesday. Last month, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Apple was preparing to launch at least one new Mac at its March 8 event, and at the time Gurman speculated that it would likely be a high-end Mac mini...
aapl logo banner

Which New Mac Will Apple Release at Its March Event?

Sunday February 20, 2022 2:00 am PST by
Apple is widely expected to unveil a new Mac next month, but with the high-end Mac mini, the 27-inch iMac, and the Mac Pro all still featuring Intel chips and Apple's M1 machines from 2020 now reaching almost 15 months in age, it is not immediately clear which new model the company is planning to announce next. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, r...
m1 mac mini

Kuo: 2023 Mac Mini to Retain Same Design as Current Model

Saturday March 12, 2022 9:48 am PST by
Apple's next-generation Mac mini will likely feature the same design as the current model, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a brief tweet, Kuo said that the refreshed Mac mini is likely to retain the same form factor as the current model, which is an aluminum unibody design that Apple has used for every new Mac mini since 2010. Earlier this week, Kuo said that the new Mac...
Peek Performance Feature

Four Apple Devices You Shouldn't Buy Right Now – New Models Are Imminent

Saturday March 5, 2022 7:00 am PST by
New Apple products are expected to be announced at the company's "Peek Performance" event on March 8, so prospective customers should now hold off on buying at least four currently-available Apple devices until updated models launch. Based on reports from reliable sources over the past two years, Apple is expected to announce replacements for at least four of its current devices with new...
macbook air rounded mock purple

MacBook Air and 'MacBook' With M2 Chips Slated for Launch Later This Year

Thursday March 10, 2022 1:52 pm PST by
Apple is working on the successor to the M1 chip, expected to be called the M2, and multiple rumors have already suggested that these chips are going to be used in machines that include a refreshed MacBook Air and a new version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. A new report today from 9to5Mac once again reiterates these rumors, with the site claiming that Apple will introduce a MacBook Air and a...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.5 With Podcast App Updates and Bug Fixes

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.5, the fifth major update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November 2020. macOS Big Sur 11.5 comes two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.4. The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.5 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. macOS Big Sur...
m1 mac mini

Buyer's Guide: Don't Buy a Mac Mini Right Now – New Model Imminent

Monday February 28, 2022 2:11 am PST by
The high-end Mac mini is expected to arrive in the immediate future with a number of notable features and improvements, so prospective customers should now hold off on buying a Mac mini until the new model arrives. Based on a range of reports from reliable sources over the past year, the new high-end Mac mini is currently expected to bring at least three key improvements: New design with...

Popular Stories

Apple Watch Series 7 Starlight Midnight

Standard Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature Same Design as Series 7

Friday August 5, 2022 7:46 am PDT by
The standard 41mm and 45mm models of the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature the same design as the Apple Watch Series 7, according to Twitter user @ShrimpApplePro, who was first to reveal that iPhone 14 Pro models would feature a new pill-and-hole display. Titanium will not be an option for the standard Apple Watch Series 8 models either, according to @ShrimpApplePro, but Bloomberg's Mark...
cook sept 2020 event

Gurman: Apple Preparing Pre-Recorded iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 Event

Sunday August 7, 2022 6:13 am PDT by
Apple has "started to record" its virtual September event, where it's expected to announce the upcoming iPhone 14 lineup, the Apple Watch Series 8, and a new "rugged" Apple Watch model, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman says the event, which is expected to take place in the early part of September, is already under production, implying...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

Five iPhone 14 Rumors You May Have Missed

Thursday August 4, 2022 6:05 am PDT by
With August upon us, the countdown is officially on. We're just weeks away from when we're expecting Apple to announce the iPhone 14 lineup. Rumors of the next iPhone start early in the year, and as a result, some details about the upcoming device sometimes get lost in the crowd. Exclusive MacRumors iPhone 14 Pro renders by graphic designer Ian Zelbo To help MacRumors readers, we've created a ...
banish safari app pop ups

New iOS App Blocks Those Annoying 'Open in App' Pop-Ups in Safari

Friday August 5, 2022 2:47 am PDT by
You've probably experienced visiting a website like Reddit or LinkedIn on your iPhone only to be greeted with an annoying, almost full-screen pop-up urging you to view the content in their app instead of on the website. It's a common practice for websites that have accompanying iOS apps to push users to open (if they already have the app installed) or download their app from the App Store to ...
top stories 7aug22

Top Stories: iPadOS 16 Delayed, iPhone 14 Pro Rumors, Studio Display Speaker Issues

Saturday August 6, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
The big Apple news this week was word that the upcoming iPadOS 16 update apparently won't be arriving alongside its counterpart update for the iPhone in September, largely due to a need to continue refining the new Stage Manager multitasking feature. Other popular stories this week included more hints about the iPhone 14 Pro's rumored always-on display, potential design leaks for the...