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prefs Tools

This tool is an extension of Greg Neagle's

In the simplest use case you can just pass the app identifier:

$ ./
idleTime <int>: 0L (User/ByHost)
CleanExit <string>: u'YES' (User/ByHost)
askForPassword <bool>: True (Managed)
askForPasswordDelay <int>: 0L (Managed)
moduleDict <dict>: {
    moduleName = iLifeSlideshows;
    path = "/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/iLifeSlideshows.saver";
    type = 0;
} (User/ByHost)
showClock <bool>: True (User/ByHost)
tokenRemovalAction <int>: 0L (User/ByHost)
PrefsVersion <int>: 100L (User/ByHost)

The tool will print all composited preferences keys and their type and value, with the preference domain where the value was set. The output format is:

prefKey <type>: value (domain)

A preference domain of Managed means the value is set with a configuration profile.

While preference values set in .GlobalPreferences.plist in the different domains are composited into the the application defaults, they are not shown by default, since there are many of them and they will make the output fairly unreadable. If you want to see them add the --globals (or -g option):

$ ./ --globals

You can also add one or more keys after the app identifier to get just specific values:

$ ./ askForPassword askForPasswordDelay AppleLocale
askForPassword <bool>: True (Managed)
askForPasswordDelay <int>: 0L (Managed)
AppleLocale <string>: u'en_NL' (User/Global)

You can also add the --value (or -V) option to show just the value in the output (might be useful when you want to get the composited value for another script.

$ ./ -V askForPassword

To do:

  • determine the configuration profile a setting came from
  • set or delete values in a certain domain
  • read keys or values in nested arrays or dicts

(inherited from

  • Instead of '/Library/Preferences/ByHost/', print the actual filename.
  • Add support for sandboxed applications that store their preferences in ~/Library/Containers//Data/Library/Preferences/.plist