Mac software repair When its odd pull the plist

I worked a long time at Apple in California as a Software specialist. My job was to investigate the odd cases. When I mean odd I mean the case that make the first two people at AppleCare scratch their heads. So I have some advice for those people who wan to do their own Mac Software repair.

Before you start deleting your files I will not repair your Mac for free because you do not have a backup … you have been warned

Apple uses Unix

This is going to be one of those things were if you are not a computer expert then you may want to avoid parts of this mostly because you can cause a little bit of trouble.

Ok now the warning is done lets talk about Unix. This is the base OS of the Mac computer. When you are watching TV and someone is using black screen and only text to hack into a computer there is a good chance they are using Unix or Linux .(There is a difference but not a lot … Kind of like American English vs Australian English .. color vs colour )

One of the most important part of Unix is that every file has a permission. This means that some people can make change and others can not. This makes the Mac very resistant to Viruses as they can not make changes without and admin approval.

So what is this Plist that you are Talking about?

So inside the folder called the user library (~/Library/Preferences ) are a tone of files that have funny names like (I used that one because I can see it in my sleep) These files contain all kinds of great information about how you like to use that software.

This would be if you like to have the software buttons you have active. What account it access and if you have ever opened the software before.

Ok so this file has all kinds of information that for us makes no sense whatsoever. But your Mac (and to some Mac software repair experts ) this file has all kinds of great information. But sometimes that file gets corrupted

The reason for this is that the file is deep inside the users protected folders so they are not well protected. Now I’m not saying that if there is something wrong you have been hacked. What I am saying is that other software can easily make changes because the permissions on this files are very low.

Mac software repair

When its odd

Now a hacker is not going to be trying to target your Plist. Mostly because if they are that deep in your computer you are already screwed. They will be too busy transferring all your money out of your bank accounts to want to alter your plist.

But now and then software will do something odd.. I am talking really odd. This could be that it always acts like you have never used it before. IT could be that the software window is an odd colour. It could even do strange things like have odd fonts or window refused to change its size.

When doing Mac software repair the first thing we do is take a look at the software behaviour. And if it can be described as “Huh that is odd” Pull the Plist.

What do you mean by Pull the Plist

Pulling the Plist is what happens when you go into the user Library folder and grave the plist of the Mac software that needs repair and drag it to the deskstop.

What this does is takes the file we think is corrupted and forces the Mac to make a new one. When a Mac does not have a Plist file in the folder it assumes the you have never used the software before and will create a new one. While this sounds like it might be dangerous there are very few bits of software that will be prominently damaged by pulling the Plist. (But move it to the desktop just to be sure)

HOw do you get to the library folder

Back in my day the user library folder was easy to find. There was very little stoping a user from accessing this folder and causing all kinds of trouble. In fact when I started using the Mac I was trying to figure out what the files in this folder did and threw them all out thinking I did not need them. This made the computer no longer want to start.

As you can imagine this was a continued problem when I worked at Applecare. People would delete files and make it so their Mac would not work correctly and sometimes require the Mac OS to be reinstalled.

I am telling you this early because if you do anything other than removing the Plist from the user folder you will be booking an appointment with me to fix your computer.

Now that I have your a littler nervous (This is good) Let me show you how to find the user library folder.

Click on Finder

Hold down the Option key and in the Menu Select Go and then click on the Library Folder

From there you want to go to the folder called Preferences.

Find the name of the software that is not working the way it should.

should look like


Now that you have removed that file reboot

Just removing the file is not enough to repair the Mac software. You will need to reboot the computer

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