Whenever you shut down a Mac, Mac OS X will  undergo a procedure to first log you out of your account.  If there are multiple users on your system, you can log out  of your account and  then allow another user to log in without having to perform a restart.
What does a Log Out do?
When you log out, all running applications, open files, and work you were doing are ended.  You will be asked to save anything that has not been saved before your account is actually logged out.

Ways to Log Out
There are several ways to log out of a Mac.  You can simply perform a shut down or perform any of the following:

Use the Apple Menu
  • Click the Apple Icon on the Apple Menu, then click Logout
A box will appear asking you to confirm your choice to log out and begins a two minute countdown.  To confirm either click Log Out or press the Return (Enter) key.

logout_timed_01.png
Use the Keyboard
  • Simultaneously press the Shift-Command-Q keys.
A similar dialog box as shown above will appear.

If Fast User Switching is Enabled
Fast User Switching is a feature that can be enabled for Macs with multiple user accounts that allows one user to log in without requiring another user to log out.  If enabled, the Fast User menulet will be visible.  To log out just follow one of the log out procedures.  Mac OS X will then display the Login window if any other accounts are active.

Updates
  • March 15, 2009 - content revision, image updated
Created: 12:21 PM on Dec 29, 2006
By: switchtoamac