It looks like you have run into a bug in Lion’s version of TextEdit. For reasons unknown, the designers of TextEdit opted for storing favorite styles in the global preferences file (
~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist) when they introduced the feature. They might have intended to create a user global stored styles system for NSText based rich text editors (not the only oddity of the system – this post has a good write-up of TextEdit’s style implementation). This has worked up to and including OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.
In OS X 10.7 Lion however, TextEdit has been sandboxed (sandboxing means, in layman’s terms: the operating system only grants an application discrete rights to access the file system, network, OS services etc. as defined by the app – so called entitlements. Anything a sandboxed application tries beyond that what is covered by its entitlements will be denied and logged by the sandbox daemon
sandbox). A look at the log, where you will find an entry similar to this one
02.11.11 14:44:54,659 sandboxd: () TextEdit(73342) deny file-write-create /Users/<user>/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist.c2n4nCb
each time you try to store a new favorite style shows that writing to
.GlobalPreferences is not among TextEdit’s entitlements. The result: Lion’s TextEdit can neither store new favorite styles*, nor delete ones written ether by previous versions of TextEdit (your case).
To get rid of the old styles, you need to remove the
NSFavoriteStyles key from the global preferences list. If you have Xcode installed, invoking
will open the file in Xcode’s plist Editor, where you can remove / modify it manually. If you don’t,
defaults delete -g NSFavoriteStyles
will get rid of all stored (“favorite”) styles.
* it might look like it does, as these are stored in memory while TextEdit runs, and with Lion’s revamped process management, it is difficult to tell when textEdit really quits. Still, once it does, the favorite styles disappear.
ADDENDUM: Reported as a bug to Apple (OpenRadar rdar://10385163).
According to Apple Developer Relations, this bug has been quashed as of OS X 10.8