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How can I reset all settings for the system preferences in Mac OS X? I'm using lion.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I found this post, from the official Apple Support Forums, regarding the exact question, after a quick google search on the topic: Official Apple Support Forum

I have been able to accomplish this via the following method. I may not be the best idea given it deletes the account while logged in, but worked for me.

1) Do all of the necessary installations, etc. just as under Snow Leopard, using your setupacctname account.

2) Once that is done, BEFORE restarting in single user mode: sudo su dscl . -delete /Groups/admin GroupMembership setupacctname dscl . -delete /Users/setupacctname
3) Reboot into single user mode (Hold Command-s at startup)
4) Check the filesystem: /sbin/fsck -fy
5) Mount the filesystem: /sbin/mount -uw /
6) Remove the setupacctname directory: rm -R /Users/setupacctname
7) Remove or rename .AppleSetupDone so you get the language choice

 cd /var/db/
 mv .AppleSetupDone .RunLanguageChooserToo   or

 rm .AppleSetupDone   

8) Delete miscellaneous files (unnecessary, but useful if you're imaging the drive):

 rm -R /Library/Caches/*
 rm -R /System/Library/Caches/*
 rm -R /var/vm/swapfile*   

9) Shutdown or restart

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Wow, that was quite something. I almost peed my pants. It worked! – mathew Dec 1 '11 at 7:34

If you're also looking to reset application settings (and the arrangement of Dock icons and so on), you could try running this in Terminal:

rm -r ~/Library/Preferences/*

Missing preference files will just be recreated so it should be harmless. I've done it a few times on test accounts and haven't run into any issues.

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You would also need to remove the ~/Library/Application Support/ folder. Even that won't get everything (some settings are saved as /Library/Preferences/ and such) but it will probably get close enough. – TJ Luoma Nov 30 '11 at 22:24

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