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Modding Mac OS X by Erica Sadun

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Chapter 5. Preferences Files

Preferences Files

Bill of Materials

Mac OS X Software

  • Terminal (/Applications/Utilities)

  • TextEdit (/Applications)

  • Xcode Tools (/Developer)

  • Property List Editor (/Developer/Applications/Utilities; installed as part of the Xcode Tools distribution)

  • Calculator (/Applications)

A computer is like a butler in that it works most effectively when it anticipates your desires and remembers your quirks, and it does so in a way that does not call attention to itself. The various preferences panes found within programs and via System Preferences allow you to customize the way your Macintosh and its applications behave. But preferences don’t stop at preferences panes. There’s an art and a science to storing default settings that, when mastered, will allow your system to behave exactly the way you need it to.

You’re about to discover how to find the preferences files for each application on your computer, learn how to read through those files, find out what it takes to edit that data, search for undocumented options, and expand the limits of application customizability.

Preferences Files

Applications use preferences files to store persistent data, which remains on the system at all times, whether an application is running or not. Unlike the mishmash of formats used in days gone by, current Apple-compliant preferences files contain application-specific data in simple text-based files called ...

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