Tuesday, 10 December 2013

How to manually edit defaults plist files in Mavericks?


Talking about the main preferences and settings-storage system in OS X, it is the “defaults” which save values in binary or ascii-encoded XML property lists. You can see it in user account’s “Preferences” folder. But, in OS they exist in other locations and for other purposes.


For programs and system services, defaults can be changed from OS settings panel. But, they can modified by hand commonly and then reload the service or program to apply the change. You can perform this for standard settings as well as for enabling hidden settings.

Invoking this type of setting needs to run the relevant defaults command in terminal to write it and then reloading the running command. There are some defaults settings that are very complex to create and manage by the standard defaults command.

Well, in such cases you need to edit the plist file manually using a text editor. But, it will not work fine in Mavericks. This is because Mavericks stores the defaults settings. It lets you fast and reliable way of managing settings by programs.

You can notice that when you use defaults commands then it will result in settings being directly used. This is because it caches the settings along with writing them to disk.

However, you may notice that using the defaults command itself will result in settings being immediately used, as it will properly cache the settings in addition to writing them to disk.
Later, the defaults command will properly cache the preferences file and you can use it in combination with a text editor so as to implement a complex changes to a preference file. For this, after saving the changes in text editor you can run the defaults read command on the plist file to list its contents.
Let’s take an example, if you would like to change the Dock’s position setting using text editor then open it and change the “pinning” and “orientation” keys. Finally, save the changes. Then, run either of the following two commands. This will read the Dock’s plist file and re-cache them. Before launching Dock again, do this and the settings will be implemented when the program get reloads.
defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.dock
defaults read com.apple.dock

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