What are Mac System Preferences, and how do I fix them?

What are system preference files on Mac?
Your Mac's system preference files are files that store the rules (or parameters) that tell your apps how they should work. And you can find these preference files within each applications' contents.

And what about broken preferences?
Well, with time, these preference files can be corrupted (or broken) due to things like: an app crash, a sudden blackout, or even hard drive corruption.

Now, to fix them, we need to clean up these Mac preference files. The app will then create a new default preference file. This can help your app(s) operate correctly again. So, today, we'll go over two ways on how to remove system preference files: the easy way (with a Mac cleaner) and the more difficult way (manually).

How to fix System Preferences on Mac | The easy way

Deleting preference files (well, refreshing them) on your Mac is incredibly easy with a Mac utility like CleanMyMac X. It scans your Mac for preference files that are broken and removes them with just a click of a button. CleanMyMac X contains a few cleaning modules responsible for cleaning your Mac efficiently. The System Junk module looks through your system and application folders to find different kinds of unneeded files, including broken application and system preferences.

To fix preference files on your Mac with CleanMyMac X, just:

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (click here to download it).
  2. Launch CleanMyMac X and select System Junk on the left. 
  3. Click Scan.
  4. And then click Clean.
CleanMyMac X - System junk scan complete

In a few seconds, your Mac will be cleaned of unneeded system data, including broken preference files. If you'd only like to remove the broken preferences, before you click Clean, select "Review Details," only checkmark the box that says "Broken Preferences," and then click Clean. CleanMyMac X makes reseting system preference files on Mac incredibly simple. And it does a ton more, too. You can read more about it here.

However, if you'd prefer to remove Mac system preference files yourself, check out the section below.

How to delete System Preference files on Mac manually

How to find system preferences on a Mac? All preference files are stored in [Your Home Folder]/Library/Preferences Usually they named in this manner:
com.[name of the software vendor].[name of the application].plist

Now, if you have an application that works incorrectly, you can find the corresponding preference file in the folder mentioned above and remove it from there. The next launch of the application will recreate a default version of that file and then begin working properly. However, if this doesn't happen, it may be a good decision to put the broken preference file back — they can be a bit temperamental. It's highly advised that you make a copy of the preference file before you delete it, just in case something goes wrong.

So, to remove unnecessary system preferences (or preference files that are bugging your your application), check the:

…system folder. To do this, open a Finder window, press Command-Shift-G, and type the above in. However, be aware that items stored in that location could be incredibly important to your system and how it functions, so you should be 100% sure about the files you're going to delete.

But again, we'd recommend looking into CleanMyMac X — it makes fixing and removing broken preference files on your Mac easy as can be.

We hope this article has helped you understand what Mac system preferences are and how to delete system preference files on Mac.