Mac mini Crashing on Shutdown, Upon Reboot Accessibility Settings are ‘Lost’

With increasing frequency of late, when I shutdown my Mac mini (2018, i7, macOS 12.2.1) it reboots itself and reports that it rebooted because of an error. I duly send the crash reports off to Apple but they are Greek to me (alas, I do not speak nor read Greek).

Yes I know, “if it crashes when you do that, then don’t do that!”. The system does crash at other times, with a reboot, but infrequently. So I would like to get to the root cause of the issue.

Upon reboot everything appears fine, and I can shutdown without issue.

However, upon the next startup, the Accessibility settings are not recognized, and I get plenty of “Application name needs Accessibility turned on” type messages.

It had been the case that I would open the Accessibility preferences, toggle the checkbox for any of the complaining apps (and they were all checked) and all of them would now be activated.

However, there is a new behavior that happened when I shut down yesterday. Upon startup I get the “I need Accessibility” dialogs. But when I go to the Accessibility preferences, nothing is listed. The panel is empty. Upon rebooting one or more times (the disappearing Accessibility issue has happened twice (last evening while troubleshooting and this morning)) the issue resolves itself.

Any suggestions on how to fix this (and yes, getting a Mac Studio is one attractive option :slight_smile: ) would be greatly appreciated. The only thing I found on the web was about reseting the Accessibility database with the tccutil command via the terminal:

sudo tccutil reset Accessibility

Do you think this would be of any help for my issue?

Thanks in advance.

This is a kernel panic. I don’t think resetting the Accessibility database will help because the Accessibility problem is likely due to the crash, not the cause of it.

Kernel panics are signs that your Mac has serious problems. One kernel panic might be an outlier, but more than one is a bad sign. (You reported kernel panics at shutdown and “at other times”.) You are on the road to data loss, so please make sure you have adequate backups – and bear in mind that kernel panics can damage data over time as well, so incremental backups are important. Most of the repeated kernel panics that I’ve seen have been hardware issues.

After that, I’d look at this article by Howard Oakley:

The article has good background info on kernel panics and how you can begin to diagnose them. For sure I’d make sure the hardware is not reporting problems. (A good hardware report doesn’t mean that it isn’t a hardware problem, though!) And it includes links to his software that can help you look at logs. I know you said that they’re “Greek” to you, but with a timestamp and his tools, you could at least look to see if anything jumps out at you.

Thank you. And that confirms what I thought, that the Accessibility issue was a symptom and not the underlying cause.

I have a daily local system backup (SuperDuper), specific drives backed up locally (ChronoSync), and all the working drives backed up offsite (Backblaze). And Time Machine running as well. This served me well when our place took not one but two direct lightning strikes less than two weeks apart this past summer. I lost some hardware, but no data. :slight_smile:

And this could be a lingering problem from those strikes I suppose. :frowning:

And now off to learn about kernel panics.

Thank you again and stay well.

My iMac Pro has random shutdowns when idle.
With Monterey in the past (last October/November), they were kernel panics. Reinstalled Big Sur, no problems.
Installed Monterey about a 6 weeks ago, and the random shutdowns started. Mine aren’t panics now, but window manager timeouts.

Yep. I’ve posted in that thread too. But is it happening more often and the issues are more involved.

And no, it did not happen with Big Sur.

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So, my bonus came through and my Mac Studio is on its way … by a slow boat form China apparently as it won’t get here until June.

I am happy and sad at the same time.

Now to sort out the issues with my mini …

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Here is the top line of the Kernel Panic report:

panic(cpu 0 caller 0xffffff8008f1da12): PowerOff timed out in phase 'Notifying power plane drivers'. Total 30000 ms:
vfs_unmountall: 1573 ms

I have 11 drives connected to the mini, 1 in the mini, 8 in two drive enclosures, and 2 stand alone. Three are backup drives and are unmounted as part of the daily backups. I’ve also had a 1 TB thumb drive connected that I use as on location backup for photography, for a project I’ve been working on of late.

I’m going to try un-mounting the drives prior to shutdown and see if that makes a difference.

Fingers crossed.

Mine had shutdown when I came in this morning.
I noted the first word was “panic”, as is yours.
Didn’t save the rest of the text.

One simple thing to try is to create new User account, for testing purposes, and see if the problem persists on that new account. Don’t copy data to the new account, just engage in the kinds of activity you use your Mac for.

If it’s a system-wide problem, like a drive or RAM or hardware issue, you should still see it.

If you don’t see the issue, that may suggest it’s related to a specific app or file.

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Done. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed. :crossed_fingers:

Thank for the suggestion.

Trying a new account is definitely a good troubleshooting step for frequent (hourly) problems, but it’s often hard to do effectively for less-frequent problems. You need to use the new account as you normally would – but without bringing across any data. I’m not sure you can do an adequate test in this case, but if you have the time it’s worth a shot.

Un-mounting the drives before shutdown or sleep would also be a good test. It would be great if this problem is linked to external hardware! A much easier fix, if you can isolate it.

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I spent most of the weekend working as the new user. Still had issues.

I wrote an AppleScript to eject all the drives prior to shutdown. Still had issues.

So I then started looking at the disks. And when using Disk Utility there were two disks for which Disk First Aid could not be run. They both failed with a message that they could not be unmounted. Which was curious because when running Disk First Aid the firs thing that happened is the disks were unmounted.

So for some reason the system did not correctly recognize the disks had been unmounted. If anyone has any insight as to why this might be I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts.

I then disconnected both drives. And there are no more crashes at shutdown.

The next steps will be to try with each, but not both, connected in turn. Hopefully it will be but one of the drives which is the issue.

And hopefully this is in fact the issue, but I’ve had multiway periods with no issue in the past.

Thanks again everyone for the suggestions and comments. I’ll let you know how things go.

In my last post in this saga I wrote:

My hopes were dashed. (And for “multiway” please read “multi-day”.)

I reconnected one of the two drives, the newer of the two, figuring it was likely not the problem. The older drive is a Firewire/USB drive I used with my 2010 MacPro. And for a while all was well. And then it wasn’t. More crashes at shutdown. I disconnect the drive and all was well. I have a HomeKit enabled power strip, so I plugged the newer drive into this power strip, ejected it, and shut down the outlet. And the system crashed at shutdown. If I disconnected the the USB cable it didn’t crash. Perhaps a bad USB cable? It is a USB 3.0 Micro B connector at the drive end. I do not have a replacement handy. So I leave the drive disconnected for now.

And then the system starts crashing again.

I am sad. But I reconnect the drive. So at least there is that.

And then I notice this:

Screen Shot 2022-03-20 at 2.14.06 PM

What is that in Desktop 10? Note that when I switch to Desktop 10, there is nothing there. It is in the multi-spaces Mission Control view, but not visible in the space itself. Curious.

Zooming in it looks like this:

Well that looks kinda scary. A skull? Yeah, that can’t be good.

But maybe it is a bowler hat with a question mark?

And what app do I use that has a bowler hat … Alfred.

So I disable Alfred. And the crashes stop. I enable Alfred, and the crashes return. So for the moment Alfred is disabled. Not getting my hopes up this time.

My working hypothesis is that either my installation of Alfred is corrupted somehow, or there is an interaction between Alfred and some other app I’m running.

But the skull is still there, even when Alfred isn’t. Spooky.

So I watch as apps load during the startup sequence. And I tracked it down to KeyCue. KeyCue shows a splash window when it starts up. And that splash window leaves behind a ghost. Quit KeyCue and the ghost vanishes. And now, I ain’t afraid of no ghost no more.

Any other suggestions on things to check/try are welcome.

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For anyone who may still be interested … :sleeping:

It wasn’t Alfred. It wasn’t the hard rives. It wasn’t the evil skull thing.

It seems that the system becomes stable for for a while. Then it becomes unstable. And then becomes stable again. None of the changes I have tried have made a difference.

The next steps would seem to be:

  • Disconnect as much as possible from the Mac mini and add them back one at a time to see where the system becomes unstable.

  • Stop launching applications at login and slowly add them back (anyone remember Conflict Catcher?) to see where the system becomes unstable.

  • Stop shutting the system down. But I want to know why!!!

  • Wait until the Mac Studio arrives and retire/repurpose the mini.

I’m thinking the last is going to win.

As always, if anyone has any other suggestions I’m all ears. :ear:t3::ear:t3:!

As a final follow up, I was never able to determine what the issue was.

I have since received my Mac Studio, and now have it mostly set up, just some automations to set up. So far, albeit just a week with the new machine, I’m quite happy with it.

I’ve also been running the Mini during this time, and I no longer have any issues with shutting down. Of course, everything which was connected to the Mini is now connected to the Studio. Once I get everything moved over to the Studio (those automations …) I’m not sure what I’ll be suing the Mini for, if anything.

Thanks again to everyone who made suggestions along the way.