Convert plist Files to XML or Binary on Mac OS

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Plist files contain specific preferences and properties relevant to a particular application or part of the Mac OS X system software. Depending on where the plist file is located and what function they serve, they can be in XML format, binary format, and sometimes even json. For users who need to change a plist file or convert the file format to or from XML and binary, you can easily do this in the OS X Terminal using the plutil command.

The great thing about this plutil approach is that users can convert property list files to XML for editing with a plain text editor, and then go back to binary for use by an application or system function. This avoids the need to use Property List Editor in Xcode to edit plist files, which is a large download and a bit more cumbersome if you don’t need the other development tools that come with Xcode.

To begin, run the Terminal, located in / Applications / Utilities /

Convert a plist file to XML from binary

Do you have a plist file in binary format that you want to convert to XML? This can be especially useful if you want to adjust a property list file in a text editor, without having to launch Xcode or a separate app.

plutil -convert xml1 ExampleBinary.plist

This converts the existing plist binary file to XML format, which can then be edited in almost any plain text editor, be it vi, nano, TextEdit in plain text mode, or third-party apps like TextWrangler and BBEdit. You can also use Xcode to edit plist files as usual.

Convert a binary plist file to XML format

Want to convert a plist file in XML format to binary or back to binary after making changes to it? Instead, use the following command:

plutil -convert binary1 Example.plist

This changes the plist in XML back to binary format. Once it is in binary format, it cannot be edited with a standard text editor unless you convert it back to XML or use Xcode’s built-in property list editor. The modified binary list files can then be moved back to various system-level or app-level folders as needed.

By the way, for those of you wondering why this tool is needed, just try to open a plist file in binary format with a text editor and you will soon see the problem:

Binary plist file cannot be edited in text editor

The same plist file, when converted from binary to XML, opens in a text editor as a typical XML file that can then be modified as needed and then converted back to binary:

Converted plist file to XML format from binary file can be edited in text editors

This is clearly intended for advanced users who need to change and modify plist files in the first place, as the average Mac user is likely to rarely encounter the files, let alone make changes to them.

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What is actual time in which this method complete?

The time to complete the How to Convert plist Files to XML or Binary in Mac OS X tutorial is 10+ minutes.

What are the supported Device?

Apple

What are the supported Operating system?

mac OS


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