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Your computer.

One of the great things about OS X is the level of control the user has over the system. System and application settings are not stored in an unfathomable quagmire like Microsoft's 'registry' but in easy to read XML files in eminently accessible text format.

Up until OS X 10.4 Tiger that is.

The OS X XML parser has always been able to read and write XML in a variety of formats, but the textual format has always been the default. Until Tiger. Now it's a binary format instead, making it that much more difficult for users to see and control what's going on.

The only workaround users have had is to drop to a command line, use plutil to temporarily rewrite files in text format, then edit the files with a text editor set to UTF-8 - which can get lugubrious if things don't initially work out as desired.

And editing XML files with a text editor is always wrought with the danger of syntax errors: although XML syntax is eminently simple, a single misplaced character can render the file unusable.

Enter PlistEdit. PlistEdit opens your XML property list files in the same old easy to read text format, lets you edit them as plain text, and then saves them back to disk in their original format. And there's no risk of syntax errors either: PlistEdit tests all files before saving.

Doodads You Don't Want

There've been a number of whiz-bang property list editors cropping up of late. They offer nothing above and beyond what you get from looking at the files as plain text (which they really are). Don't spend your $30 on such useless things.

Get Back Control

Use PlistEdit and get back control. After all, it's your computer.

See Also
Industry Watch: Binary XML
Learning Curve: Binary Property Lists

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