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MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with M1 suffer annoying bug: What you need to know

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

It was too good to be true, wasn't it? Apple's launch of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with M1 chips was a grand slam, transforming a pair of aging products into the cream of the crop in laptop land. 

But as with every new release, there are going to be a few problems. The MacBooks with Apple Silicon are suffering from an annoying bug that causes issues when using macOS Big Sur's Fast User Switching feature.

Before we get into the details, Fast User Switching lets you quickly switch between accounts on one device without having to log out completely. It's a time-saver...when it works properly. 

As reported by MacRumors, several Mac users have complained on various forums and social media sites about a problem wherein a screensaver locks itself to the display when you try switching accounts. There is no way to exit the screensaver, meaning your shiny new Mac is rendered unusable. Closing the lid and starting back up is the quickest way to get out of this headlock. 

"Brand new Mac mini ‌M1‌, 2nd day using it, Big Sur macOS 11.1 (20C69) with screensaver and screen sleep set to 20 mins," one MacRumors forum member wrote. "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."

When the screensaver appears, the mouse pointer is still visible but you can't do anything with it. As mentioned, opening and closing the lid is one escape or you can lightly press the power key or use the Alt+Command+Q key command to get back to the login page. 

Interestingly, some users say the problem exists on their MacBook Pro 16-inch so it could be an issue with macOS Big Sur rather than Apple's custom silicon. Whatever the case, the easiest way to avoid this problem is by turning Fast User Switching off, although that obviously means you can no longer use it. A better option is to give Apple a nudge by submitting your feedback through this link

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.