How To Restore Default Preferences On Mac OS X


14.11.2011

How To Restore Default Preferences On Mac OS X

Some time ago I had a hard time when somebody asked me to erase the preferences from a Mac. After some research I was able to do this and also made me think that this process would make a great tutorial.

For the beginning you should know that all the icons in your Mac’s System Preferences menu along with the preferences that you normally select in each section of the menu are generally stored on the hard drive. This is the main reason why a user is able to reset or delete their preferences with a simple button or by changing its name. As a general rule, when you clean up your system preferences you go and reset them to what they were at the first installation of your OS. This is a great feature because the user is now able to revert at any time to its original configuration in the misfortune of making a mistake. Here are the steps you need to reproduce in order to get to the final result:

  1. Start by double-clicking on the “Mac OS X” icon on the desktop.

  2. Now go and open the “User” folder.

  3. Open the folder that has the same name as the computer.

  4. Go and also open the “Library” folder.

  5. In there just open the “Preferences” folder.

  6. Among all files located in there make a right-click on “com.apple.systempreferences.plist”. From all the options selected in there select “Get Info” on the context menu.

  7. Notice that there is a triangle located right next to the “Name & Extension.” Click on it! With the use of the field below just change the name of the file. From “com.apple.systempreferences.plist” change it into “com.apple.systempreferencesbackup.plist.” If by any chance you managed to make things worse there is the possibility of restoring. Just go and return to this folder and remove the word “backup” from the file name. This action is by far the easiest and will allow the user to return to the initial stage.

  8. After the process is complete just close the window and then restart your Mac. After the Mac restarts go and open the System Preferences menu. Notice that all general preferences are now set to their default values.

There is a thing that I need to add. For example if your Mac has multiple users there will be multiple “com.apple.systempreferences.plist” files, one for each user. In order to clean up your system, you need to also rename all these “com.apple.systempreferences.plist” files for each user in particular. That being said make sure the next time you set your preferences they are the ones you desire and to not need to rename them again and again.

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