There are two ways you can view and edit the contents of an application’s preferences file:
With the Property List Editor
From the command line, using the defaults command
The Property List Editor is only available on your system after installing the Developer Tools; however, the defaults command is available with the base installation of Mac OS X, and doesn’t require you to install any additional software.
Viewing is one thing, but knowing what you can enter into a
plist file requires a bit of investigative work.
An application asserts its domain through the
key in its internal
file, which is stored in an application’s
/Contents directory. For example, the
Info.plist file for the Dock can be found in
The preferences available to an application are defined via the
key in the
file. Typically, the string for
CFBundleExecutable is the short name for the
application (e.g., Dock). This executable can be found in an
directory. For example, the Dock executable is located in
To see a listing of available keys and strings for an application, use the strings command in the Terminal, followed by the path to the application’s short name as defined by CFBundleExecutable:
strings /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/MacOS/Dock ...