Mac OS X User Defaults

Defaults is a tool that allows Mac users to acces the user defaults system. It’s the tool used in my last two posts that allows you to make changes like hiding your desktop icons or showing hidden/invisible files. Since then, I’ve found a more comprehensive list of useful defaults.

To keep things simple, I’m going to refer you to a whole list of useful defaults posted by Github user mathiasbynens which he refers to as the dotfiles. I suggest you briefly read through it. Some other default changes you might be interested in are:

  • Enable key repeat in Lion
  • Enable 2D Dock
  • Enable iTunes track notifications in the Dock
  • Show all filename extensions
  • Disable automatic shadow in screenshots
  • Disable press-and-hold for keys in favor of key repeat
  • Set a blazingly fast keyboard repeat rate
  • Remove the auto-hiding Dock delay
  • Empty Trash securely

For your convenience, I’ve included the list below.

# Turn key repeat on in Lion (as opposed to selecting special characters)
defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

# Enable full keyboard access for all controls (e.g. enable Tab in modal dialogs)
defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleKeyboardUIMode -int 3

# Enable subpixel font rendering on non-Apple LCDs
defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 2

# Enable the 2D Dock
defaults write no-glass -bool true

# Automatically hide and show the Dock
defaults write autohide -bool true

# Make Dock icons of hidden applications translucent
defaults write showhidden -bool true

# Enable iTunes track notifications in the Dock
defaults write itunes-notifications -bool true

# Disable menu bar transparency
defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleEnableMenuBarTransparency -bool false

# Show remaining battery time; hide percentage
defaults write ShowPercent -string "NO"
defaults write ShowTime -string "YES"

# Always show scrollbars
defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleShowScrollBars -string "Always"

# Allow quitting Finder via ⌘ + Q; doing so will also hide desktop icons
defaults write QuitMenuItem -bool true

# Disable window animations and Get Info animations in Finder
defaults write DisableAllAnimations -bool true

# Show all filename extensions in Finder
defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleShowAllExtensions -bool true

# Show status bar in Finder
defaults write ShowStatusBar -bool true

# Expand save panel by default
defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSNavPanelExpandedStateForSaveMode -bool true

# Expand print panel by default
defaults write NSGlobalDomain PMPrintingExpandedStateForPrint -bool true

# Disable the “Are you sure you want to open this application?” dialog
defaults write LSQuarantine -bool false

# Disable shadow in screenshots
defaults write disable-shadow -bool true

# Enable highlight hover effect for the grid view of a stack (Dock)
defaults write mouse-over-hilte-stack -bool true

# Enable spring loading for all Dock items
defaults write enable-spring-load-actions-on-all-items -bool true

# Show indicator lights for open applications in the Dock
defaults write show-process-indicators -bool true

# Don’t animate opening applications from the Dock
defaults write launchanim -bool false

# Remove the auto-hiding Dock delay
defaults write autohide-delay -float 0

# Display ASCII control characters using caret notation in standard text views
# Try e.g. `cd /tmp; unidecode "\x{0000}" > cc.txt; open -e cc.txt`
defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSTextShowsControlCharacters -bool true

# Disable press-and-hold for keys in favor of key repeat
defaults write NSGlobalDomain ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

# Set a blazingly fast keyboard repeat rate
defaults write NSGlobalDomain KeyRepeat -int 0

# Disable auto-correct
defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticSpellingCorrectionEnabled -bool false

# Disable opening and closing window animations
defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool false

# Enable AirDrop over Ethernet and on unsupported Macs running Lion
defaults write BrowseAllInterfaces -bool true

# Disable disk image verification
defaults write skip-verify -bool true
defaults write skip-verify-locked -bool true
defaults write skip-verify-remote -bool true

# Automatically open a new Finder window when a volume is mounted
defaults write auto-open-ro-root -bool true
defaults write auto-open-rw-root -bool true
defaults write OpenWindowForNewRemovableDisk -bool true

# Display full POSIX path as Finder window title
defaults write _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool true

# Increase window resize speed for Cocoa applications
defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSWindowResizeTime -float 0.001

# Avoid creating .DS_Store files on network volumes
defaults write DSDontWriteNetworkStores -bool true

# Disable the warning when changing a file extension
defaults write FXEnableExtensionChangeWarning -bool false

# Show item info below desktop icons
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :DesktopViewSettings:IconViewSettings:showItemInfo true" ~/Library/Preferences/

# Enable snap-to-grid for desktop icons
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :DesktopViewSettings:IconViewSettings:arrangeBy grid" ~/Library/Preferences/

# Disable the warning before emptying the Trash
defaults write WarnOnEmptyTrash -bool false

# Empty Trash securely by default
defaults write EmptyTrashSecurely -bool true

# Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins
defaults write askForPassword -int 1
defaults write askForPasswordDelay -int 0

# Enable tap to click (Trackpad)
defaults write Clicking -bool true

# Map bottom right Trackpad corner to right-click
defaults write TrackpadCornerSecondaryClick -int 2
defaults write TrackpadRightClick -bool true

# Disable Safari’s thumbnail cache for History and Top Sites
defaults write DebugSnapshotsUpdatePolicy -int 2

# Enable Safari’s debug menu
defaults write IncludeInternalDebugMenu -bool true

# Make Safari’s search banners default to Contains instead of Starts With
defaults write FindOnPageMatchesWordStartsOnly -bool false

# Remove useless icons from Safari’s bookmarks bar
defaults write ProxiesInBookmarksBar "()"

# Add a context menu item for showing the Web Inspector in web views
defaults write NSGlobalDomain WebKitDeveloperExtras -bool true

# Enable the debug menu in Address Book
defaults write ABShowDebugMenu -bool true

# Enable the debug menu in iCal
defaults write IncludeDebugMenu -bool true

# Only use UTF-8 in
defaults write StringEncodings -array 4

# Disable the Ping sidebar in iTunes
defaults write disablePingSidebar -bool true

# Disable all the other Ping stuff in iTunes
defaults write disablePing -bool true

# Make ⌘ + F focus the search input in iTunes
defaults write NSUserKeyEquivalents -dict-add "Target Search Field" "@F"

# Disable send and reply animations in
defaults write DisableReplyAnimations -bool true
defaults write DisableSendAnimations -bool true

# Copy email addresses as `` instead of `Foo Bar ` in
defaults write AddressesIncludeNameOnPasteboard -bool false

# Disable Resume system-wide
defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -bool false

# Disable the “reopen windows when logging back in” option
# This works, although the checkbox will still appear to be checked.
defaults write TALLogoutSavesState -bool false
defaults write LoginwindowLaunchesRelaunchApps -bool false

# Enable Dashboard dev mode (allows keeping widgets on the desktop)
defaults write devmode -bool true

# Reset Launchpad
[ -e ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db ] && rm ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db

# Show the ~/Library folder
chflags nohidden ~/Library

# Disable local Time Machine backups
hash tmutil &> /dev/null && sudo tmutil disablelocal

# Remove Dropbox’s green checkmark icons in Finder
[ -e "$file" ] && mv -f "$file" "$file.bak"
unset file

# Fix for the ancient UTF-8 bug in QuickLook (
# Commented out, as this is known to cause problems when saving files in Adobe Illustrator CS5 :(
#echo "0x08000100:0" > ~/.CFUserTextEncoding

# Kill affected applications
for app in Safari Finder Dock Mail SystemUIServer; do killall "$app" >/dev/null 2>&1; done

Which ones did you find most useful? Have any to add to the list?

One Comment

  1. […] also added this user default to a previous post: Mac OS X User Defaults. It contains a pretty thorough list of suggested and commonly sought changes. […]


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