Setting up automatic login causes a Preferences Error

Mac mini running 10.9.5

2.3 GHz Intel Core i7

4GB 1600 MHz DDR3

I am following the steps here to set up automatic login. After completing step 4 ("Choose an account from from the 'Automatic login' pop-up menu, then enter the password of that account."), the computer becomes unresponsive for a number of seconds, then returns to the main "System Preferences" area and displays the message "Preferences Error: There was an error in the Users & Groups preference pane".

This happens to matter which user I select from the dropdown. I've tried restarting the computer; this has no effect. Googling issues with turning on Automatic Login shows people experiencing a slightly different problem, where they are unable to even select a user from the dropdown. All the same, I have verified that "Use VoiceOver in the login window" is not selected and FileVault is off, as these seem to be related in some cases.

What steps might I take to get automatic login working?

Has invited:

howapple - hello

Favor from:

Might be a corrupt .plist.

Do a backup, preferably 2 backups on 2 separate drives.

Quit the application.

Go to Finder and select your user/home folder. With that Finder window as the front window, either select Finder/View/Show View options or go command - J. When the View options opens, check ’Show Library Folder’. That should make your user library folder visible in your user/home folder. Select Library. Then go to Preferences/com.apple.systempreferences.plist. Move the .plist to your desktop.

Restart the computer, open the application, and test. If it works okay, delete the plist from the desktop.

If the application is the same, return the .plist to where you got it from, overwriting the newer one.

Thanks to leonie for some information contained in this.

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