UPDATE: A more recent article explains a new easy way to create a keyboard shortcut for Fast User Switching in OSX.
A few days ago my brother-in-law asked me if there was a Apple Keyboard shortcut for fast user switching. He and his wife share their iMac and he wondered if there is a way to do it without the extra mouse clicks. Being ever the optimist, I told him I was sure there was and I would look into it.
If that was all there was to it, it wouldn’t be worth blogging about. Turns out, there isn’t a built in keyboard shortcut for Fast User Switching (FUS). Keyboard shortcuts are generally available for accessing menu items of the current window. In addition, there are keyboard shortcuts for Spotlight, Exposé, Dashboard, and other Operating System-ish commands. Although I think there could be room in the OS shortcuts for FUS, it’s not and that’s not as much fun. A little Google-ing brought me to a macoshints.com article where they wrote a little applescript app to do FUS from the Terminal application. Now my brother-in-law is an OK Mac user, but asking him to open Terminal and type in commands would be a big step backwards (not to mention take longer). So I borrowed the code from macosxhints.com site and produced my own User Switcher app.
The app is pretty simple, it opens a small window and prompts you to type in the account name you want to switch to. If you type in a recognized account name, then the login window appears, you type in the password and presto, you’re FUS’d. If the account can’t be found, the app quits. So instead of a keyboard shortcut for FUS, all you need is a keyboard shortcut for the User Switcher app.
Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut for launching applications, at least not one for that specific purpose. But Apple does have Spotlight, which is a generic keyboard shortcut that can launch any application. All you have to do is drop the User Switcher app into your Applications (or Documents) folder and Spotlight will do the rest. Once Spotlight “learns” where it is, FUS can be as easy as cmd + space + u. Enjoy (User Switcher is provided as is; enjoy at your own risk). User Switcher.app