Crashed: too many corpses being created — How to Recover High Sierra

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Thanks to the amount of passion folks showed in wanting assistance there’s now a much better guide to recovering Sierra and High Sierra in a new blog post. You should ignore the instructions here and go there. In the case of my organization, this cropped up because of an improperly tested JAMF script that set the permissions to core folders incorrectly. However, lots of situations can cause this to crop up, and the new blog post should go a long way to addressing most of them.


So, this isn’t going to have much instructions along with it. If you are on High Sierra and especially on High Sierra with JAMF and having issues with users seeing full progress bars that never go away after the log in, and get a too many corpses error when booted in verbose mode (CMD+V on power on), these instructions should allow recovery.

Recovery time with this method is about 2 hours, although it can be left unattended for long periods.

    1. Start the Mac while holding down ⌘-S
    2. Check the startup disk for errors using:
      /sbin/fsck -fy
    3. Mount the startup disk using:
      /sbin/mount -uw /
    4. Remove the setup complete flag using:
      rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone
    5. Now to reboot into Recovery Mode, which we’ll do by running the following command and holding down ⌘-⇧-R while the machine restarts:
    6. Once you reboot into recovery you should see an option to Install macOS, click that to begin.
    7. Run though the macOS installer to completion, making a new user in the process.
    8. Once done, you’ll have a new user account, and you’ll be able to navigate back to the other user by opening Finder, pressing ⌘-⇧-G and entering /Users and pressing Go
    9. You’ll need to manually copy out Documents and Desktop items you care about from the corrupted user.

We’re addressing this issue where I work now, and, I want to get instructions out there as these seems to be an issue with the latest High Sierra updates released for Spectre and Meltdown (10.13.2 and 10.13.3). Hopefully it helps! If you know what causes this and how to prevent it, please comment!

54 thoughts on “Crashed: too many corpses being created — How to Recover High Sierra

  1. I have different issues. May be you can help me. Thank you in advance.

    Here are some error message.

    bash: /ect/rc.server: No such file or directory
    Sat Feb 10 13:04:12 2018 localhost[1] Early boot complete. Continuing system boot.
    Waiting for DSMOS…
    Process[171] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.
    Process[172] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.
    Process[173] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.
    Process[174] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.

    Then same word will continue……

    1. My solution above should work for this as well; an alternative even quicker would be to mount the problem Mac in target disk mode if you have another device and copy off the user folder, then format and reinstall and copy the folder back.

        1. Hi, thank first all, I have the same problem above, i will appreciate if yoo guys can help me with any solution, im really fresh in mac … thank in advance

    2. I have the same issue, my Macbook Pro has been working fine until yesterday and today I had been having this issue, I tried all the possible solution for this from resetting NVRAM to reinstalling Sierra High, but nothing worked. I’ll try this solution later today and try to find if it works.

  2. Hi Robin
    I have a question with regards to point 4 in your list. I did all the points 1 to 3 and my iMac still does not reboot but still is stuck at 100% progress. Is it supposed to reboot without this issue? And how exactly do I unlock the disk from the login screen?
    Thanks for any help!

    1. It should; if it doesn’t then there may be additional problems that my instructions won’t solve. I’d recommend moving off your user home directory (/Users/) to another device either through recovery (mount the drive with disk utility and then open terminal to cp -rf your home folder to an external drive) or by booting the problem Mac in target disk mode. Then format and re-install MacOS, and move the user directory back post-install.

  3. Hello, I’d like to try your method to unblock a Mac with High Sierra but I have a few questions.
    1) What if there is no “/var/db/.AppleSetupDone”? If there are multiple disks with the OS, which one should have that file?
    2) What is the difference between your points 5 and 7?

    1. The idea is to convert one of these user accounts “back into” the old user. However, to make it even simpler you can move the home user directory to another device, re-install, and move the home directory back as well.

    1. Yes and yes; we tracked down the issue to a Jamf script that was setting some /etc/-space items to be owned by 501. Corrected that has prevented the issue from happening further for us.

  4. Hi Robin! thanks for posting this but I still can’t do it
    First of all, I can’t unlock drive in disk utility because there is no option to do so.
    Secondly, when I launch terminal, I can’t delete /var/db/.AppleSetupDone because there is none of that. In my terminal it only shows -bash-3.2#

    So is there any other way to tackle this problem? thank you very much

    1. Boot into recovery mode, and attach an external hard drive. Go into Disk Utility and mount your internal drive and the external hard drive. Then, close Disk Utility, open Terminal from the Utilities menu and run a command something like:

      cp -rf /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/Users/Chance/Documents /Volumes/Sandisk/Documents

      Just change the paths to what’s relevant for you.

      Find more directions for Recovery mode, and how to reinstall after your files are off here: macOS recovery options.

  5. I am a novice with all this stuff. I’m not sure how to “unlock drive in disk utility”
    I know how to access the terminal add type stuff in, not sure to delete it, though.
    Steps 4 to 15 I think I might be able to figure it out, once I have the screens in front of me. I am sorry for all the questions. Hopefully you can help me.

  6. Hello! I am starting my MAC in recovering mode – Disk Utility – continue – clicking my hard drive, and getting stuck there. How do I launch terminal from here?

  7. Hey Robin, I have and iMac G4 Desktop that I purchased in 2010. I unmounted the Hard Drive in Disk Utility but when I open Terminal it only says -bash-3.2#.

    Any thoughts?

    This whole experience has been very frustrating for me to say the least. Please help me!

    1. Heya! I have a new blog post that should be a bit clearer and has more details stages for attempting recovery. I’d suggest reading through that and commenting there if you still have questions!

  8. I fixed it by booting from a USB stick with the fist version on High Sierra on it and reinstalling over the updated one. It booted staright up after that and I am studiously ignoring the reminders to update after what happened last time.

    1. We definitely had some weirdness updating to 10.13.2 and 10.13.3. My belief is the cause was the rushed release due the Spectre and Meltdown issues. 10.13.4 is getting a lot more beta testing and, fingers-crossed, will be stable. Now that you’re back and running it’s a good time to get Time Machine backups in place if you haven’t yet.

  9. Hi Robin,
    I have the same problem with my macbook pro when I opened it, it shows the logo and the progress bar than it’s stuck there I started the verbose mode (CMD+V) and now it’s running since two days it reaches now process [25389], so should I shut it down now or let it continues till it stops by itself? and what should I do next? thank you

  10. Hello Robin,
    My Macbook pro was stuck in the progress bar after showing the logo, I didn’t found a way to get it back but to run the verbose mode (CMD+V), now it’s been running since 3 days it reached process 43240, so should I let till it finish itself or should I stop it? and what should I do next? Thank you

  11. I’ve followed all the steps and I am in the process of reinstalling the OS – everything seemed to be working fine and I was sitting in the Apple/progress screen where the progress bar was slowly moving to 100% – it previously showed time remaining, but then stopped. Now it shows 100% but I’m waiting for something to happen…so far nothing…

    I’ve been waiting at 100% now for 15 mins – how long to I keep waiting??

  12. Hi Robin,
    I’m receiving the same message regarding “too many corpses created” after an AMFI signature verificstion failure. Do you know how to solve the AMFI issue? Like you described, the Pro won’t finish booting because of the error.

  13. well … it took a lonnnggggg time to find. but here’s the fix:

    the too many corpses error, as it tells us, is related to opendirectoryd. so.

    the cause of all of our worries is a cache file stored at


    use your preferred method to remove that file. you could use the recovery partition and terminal, single user mode, or boot up the computer from a different os and clear the file that way. that should do the trick.

    1. Steve – Thanks for this idea to go after opendirectory. I had the same process corpses problem and tried all the standard restart options and was dreading a rebuild. I simply renamed the mbr_cache file in the directory you noted above (/var/db/caches/opendirectory/) in a Recovery Mode Terminal and rebooted. My computer was now back to normal. Thanks Robin for taking on detailing out this issue and helping me find this easy fix.

    2. Steve, i did try now… and works!
      Is the second time experiencing the same issue, last time I created a new reboot disk and reinstalled all the system from scratch. lose 2 days of work to put my computer back to work.
      Now, by your tip, I just lose a few minutes of my day.

      I could not access the /mbr_cache so I delete the entire opendirectory folder and works very well. I do not know what more was inside that folder and maybe i could have more problems in the future but. My computer did reboot now, is a little bit slower, but i think is the system recovering the cache.

      So the steps that I take was.

      1 create a reboot disk on a external drive.
      2 boot on the external drive (holding option key to choose the disk)
      3 open the terminal mode to review hidden files ( just paste the line on terminal: defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -boolean true ; killall Finder )
      4 go to Machintosh HD, /var/db/caches/ and delete the folder opendirectory

    3. Hi Steve, can you go into a little more detail about “your preferred method to remove that file” on how you were able to remove the open directory file with an iMAC that won’t get past the full loading bar? I tried deleting it in the recovery disk utility but can’t seem to get it right. Thanks.

    4. Thanks .
      Renaming mbr_cache solved this problem (“Too many corpses being created.”).
      But I couldn’t delete or rename the file in single user mode. I have renamed mbr_cache after mounted boot disk by Disku Utitily in recovery mode .

  14. I had the same issue. Boot hang and verbose boot showing:

    Waiting for DSMOS…
    Process[171] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.
    Process[172] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.
    Process[173] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.
    Process[174] crashed: opendirectoryd. Too many corpses being created.

    I tried a plethora of offered solutions, but nothing worked. Was preparing to format the disk and do a fresh OS X install, when I found this beauty:

    1. Boot into MacOS Recovery mode (Cmd-R);
    2. Open a terminal session from Recovery Utilities menu;
    3. Run these two in the Terminal:
    cd /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/var/db/caches/opendirectory
    mv ./mbr_cache ./mbr_cache-old
    4. Restart

    (NOTE: if your disk is named something other then “Macintosh HD”, adjust above command. Also, ensure your disk is mounted rw.)

    That was it, finally back up and running! This trick was courtesy of Aissa Ghouti, to whom I am extremely grateful!

  15. Hi Thank you . I found this solution on line about many corpses being created and it worked

    boot and hold cmd-R to start up from macOS Recovery
    If Filevault is on, mount the disk with Disk Utility and password
    Run these two in Terminal
    cd /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/var/db/caches/opendirectory
    mv ./mbr_cache ./mbr_cache-old
    My Mac started working in a few minutes. Thank you

  16. Brilliant, its works now start up again, finally. thank you so much
    works with this stoping in step 5 but without reinstall, im testing now, i am scared being honest but i will back up all in any case.

  17. Thank You! I applied the method successfully, but I need not to enter a new user. I suffered the trouble after installing the latest update for MS Office 2016.

  18. Hi Robin, how are you?

    In my case, I have an iMac from 2013, when I try to start my computer, the apple and the bar appears, and the bar fills, and that’s everything, nothing more appears. I tried to install again my SO (Mojave), and access with fsck -fy, and when I start in single user mode:
    disk1s1: device is not readable
    disk1s1: IO failed, error = 13
    hfs_mountfs: buf_meta_bread failed with 13
    hfs_mount: hfs_mountfs returned error=13 for device unknown-dev

    And Running fsck from single user mode– it says that the disk seems OK but still the same.

    When I tried to exit the single user mode with exit, the crashed “too many corpses being created” play forever
    What can I do?

    1. Sounds like a bad drive, with a corrupt boot sector. You can try to re-install and recover from backup from there, but if the drive itself is bad then you’re gonna need a new drive. 2013 sounds about right for a failure.

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