Q Although I have disabled my iMac, running Mountain Lion, from starting up automatically, it persists in doing so every morning at about 9 o’clock. When it does, it often hangs with the beachball of death immediately after I have entered my password. How can I return it to normal?
A You first need to remove the preferences file containing that startup setting. You should find it in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.PowerManagement.plist. Move that to a different location, authenticating when prompted, then restart, open the Energy Saver pane, and set it up the way that you want it, without the automatic startup.
See if that helps your problems with beachballing. If they persist, restart holding the Shift key down to disable third party extensions and clear various system caches. Use the usual generic remedies, including repairing permissions and repairing your startup disk, with Disk Utility.
Any continued beachballing should take you to browse your log in Console: that will most likely contain a long series of crash or error reports which will lead you to the service that is at fault.
Comments Although Apple has moved many of these property list files around in recent releases of OS X, amanzingly this has remained in the same location, even in OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 29 issue 7, 2013.