4 Replies Latest reply: Aug 19, 2009 9:55 AM by François L
DJH2007 Level 1 (10 points)
Several of the solutions posted in these forums often suggest deleting the relevant .plist file and restarting the Mac.

Can someone help me understand what these files are?
Why they would become corrupted?
What are the implications of just deleting them - ie is it safe? (I've seen this recommended for everything from iPhoto to Timemachine, both of which I would be petrified of losing any data)

Thanks for any pointers,

iPhone 3G 16GB (3.0) / iMac 2.8ghz 3GB, Mac OS X (10.5.7), 2xAE(g) 1xAE(n) 1xAEBS (new dual band)
  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,590 points)
    There is a brief definition of plist files here (from Wikipedia):


    "property list files are files that store serialized objects. Property list files use the filename extension .plist, and thus are often referred to as plist files.
    Property list files are often used to store a user's settings. They are also used to store information about bundles and applications, a task served by the resource fork in the old Mac OS."

    They can safely be deleted as they are recreated the next time the relevant application or system part is opened.

    As to why they can become corrupt? Who really knows!

    But rest assured: deleting them will NOT lose you any data!
  • DJH2007 Level 1 (10 points)

    But what am I losing if I delete and therefore force the associated app to create another on next launch?

    (I know this is not necessarily one for these forums, but to help my understanding,) wouldn't Apple be better ensuring the apps checked the .plist files to see if they were valid on launch? Particularly as so many people seem to cite this as a reason for instability within OS X?
  • Jeffrey Jones2 Level 6 (8,615 points)
    When you set preferences for an application, they are stored in the plist file. Other settings that an application remembers between launches -- for example, if an application remembers window size and location -- that also might be stored in the plist,

    You should be careful about indiscriminately trashing plists. Some preferences might be important and difficult to reproduce. Mail saves account information in the plist, for example. A better strategy is to move but not delete the plist to see if that fixes your problem. You will have to reset your preferences, but often that is no big deal. The application will create a new plist. If you want the old back, delete the new on and replace the original.
  • François L Level 1 (20 points)
    Someone told me that some plists must be trashed (and not only moved out their folder),

    Carolyn Samit said always : "+Try this... delete this file. com.apple.theoddsoftware.plist+

    +Users/YourName/Library/Preferences. Drag that file from the Preferences folder to the Trash, empty the Trash and restart your Mac.+",

    and often, moving the plist out its folder solved my issue.

    = which plists must be trashed and deleted before restarting/relaunching,
    and which plists may be only moved ?