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Mars Report:

PlistEdit Pro: Enlist A Pro To Tackle Your Plist Files

Published July 8th, 2007

PlistEdit Pro Shareware Opens Up pList Files

PlistEdit Pro Preferences Editing UtilityOriginally downloaded 3/16/06. Apple’s free plist editor is fine for most things, but the files remain a bit cryptic. I’m curious to see if this $25 shareware tool makes it any easier to figure out what preferences there are to be set, not just which ones have been set.

Update 10/17/06. The answer to my earlier question is “Yes,” if what I meant was “which ones have been set” by the application’s GUI Preferences settings. PlistEdit Pro is probably my favorite application for editing and working with application preferences, though it’s taking second place in my toolbox to PrefSetter, since the latter is free and does most of what PlistEdit Pro does for $25. That’s the price of freeware nowadays… possibly pissing a lot of talented developers off. But PrefSetter isn’t the only decent freeware .plist editor out there. Not counting Apple’s, which I mentioned before, there’s also a good one from the developers of TinkerTool. It’s a bit different, but still useful, tool called PrefEdit. So, as good as it is, PlistEdit Pro’s price would have to be at least 50% lower to entice me to buy.

Update 3/30/07. Hold on a minute. I just discovered one or two things PlistEdit Pro can do that just might justify its somewhat high price tag, so I’m putting it back in the evaluation queue for awhile. The one function that was a requirement tonight is the abiliity to search and replace multiple values in a .plist file, something the free tools can’t do. In confirming this, I discovered a host of other very cool features. Clearly, most people can make do fine with PrefSetter, but PlistEdit Pro may just be necessary once your needs get a little beyond the basics.

Update 7/8/07. I actually bought a license for this great software back in May, but I’m way behind in updating the software inventory on Mars. :-( As a devoted and very happy user of the free tool PrefSetter, I was delighted to find that PlistEdit Pro has some significant enhancements that I’ve found truly unique and useful.

I bought PlistEdit Pro after repeated occasions when this handy utility performed tasks that nothing else in my toolbox could touch, though I still think $25 is a bit steep for a plist editor. Nevertheless, PlistEdit Pro has so many powerful, pro-level features that it’s a must-have for anyone who needs or wants to poke around in their application’s plist files. Here’s just one example of PlistEdit Pro’s killer features: You can search not only across your system for plists by filename, but you can search for plists with keywords in their contents. But that’s not all! You can even restrict the results to only hits where your keyword is in the file’s key fields, or in its value fields.

My notes of the software’s pros and cons follow:



  • You can search and replace using standard, powerful tools. The tool even lets you restrict the search to particular components of the plist (e.g., Dictionary, key, value…)
  • The software lets you view and edit the file as plain XML, and will sync changes you make in the hierarchy view with those you make below.
  • It has a plist browser like PrefSetter, though it does take a bit longer to launch. Once launched, it offers several significant improvements: First, it lets you search not just for the plist filenames, but actually for keys, values, and so on within the set of files! Second, I was relieved to see that in PlistEdit Pro, the delete function in the browser works. (In PrefSetter, it’s always grayed out.) Also, the browser actually lets you “reveal” or “launch” the application whose plist you have selected without going to the Finder. Nice!
  • The software has a built-in window for setting and organizing bookmarks, or “favorites,” so you can save yourself from having to search a large application library for .plists you edit often.
  • This application is bulletproof-stable: Even during very heavy exercises with hundreds of files or more, where I’m searching the file contents, it has never crashed.
  • I wish the software would have an option for seeking and opening application info.plist files as well.
  • The interface would be improved by building a search field into the toolbar, especially in the document view. Integrated search would be an improvement for the browser view as well.
  • I would like a preference setting to ask PlistEdit Pro to open the browser view only on launch. In addition, I’d like to be able to define the parameters for the default search paths.

Version as tested: 1.3.

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