What are Mac system preferences files, and how do I fix them?

macOS is known for its focus on the user's convenience. To maximize it, all of the preferences, configurations, and some other app data are stored in files known as system preference files. Sometimes, they may get corrupt, and today, we'll show you how to fix it.

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 application's 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 apps operate correctly again. So, today, we'll go over how to remove system preference files in two different ways: the easy way (with a Mac cleaner) and the more difficult way (manually).

How to fix system preferences on Mac easily

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 follow these steps:

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (click here to download it for free).
  2. Open 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," select the box that says "Broken Preferences," and then hit Clean. CleanMyMac X makes resetting 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 are 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 it will work 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 application), check the ~/Library/Preferences 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 as easy as it can possibly be.

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

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