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I'm looking for the file that contains all the Time Machine exclusions entered in its Options dialogue. I know that (some of?) the scheduling related settings are stored in the*.plist files at /System/Library/LaunchDaemons but I haven't been able to find the exclusions.

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possible duplicate of On Lion, what files are excluded by rule from a Time Machine backup? - The time machine exclusions are implemented in a way slightly more complicated than one list. – bmike Dec 12 '11 at 15:07
No, it isn't a dupe as "Time Machine exclusions entered in its Options dialogue" refers to the exclusions entered by the user. Helpful link nonetheless... – Marcel Stör Dec 12 '11 at 18:57

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is in the root directory of the actual backup e.g. /Volumes/Back3/Backups.backupdb/flat/Latest/.exclusions.plist for a machine called flat but that only shows what happened.

More usefully - if you want to edit things see /Library/Preferences/

I got the informatiuon from this blog

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Cool question and answer. Have you tried to edit that file, and if so, what happened? – David DelMonte Dec 12 '11 at 12:50
On a fresh OS X Lion installation: moved and then copied from a system backup (Snow Leopard). Then enabled and configured TimeMachine. Bingo! – Marcel Stör Dec 12 '11 at 19:36
@David DelMonte, me I didn't dare to edit the file. – Marcel Stör Dec 12 '11 at 19:37
It is a strange thing, but on my Maverick /Library/Preferences/ looks like binary file. How could I edit it? – Anton Egorov Feb 6 '14 at 10:05
@AntonEgorov that is a separate question - ask how to edit a binary plist file (Apple's default is now binary I think) – Mark Feb 6 '14 at 11:02

The list of folders in System Preferences is stored in /Library/Preferences/

/System/Library/CoreServices/backupd.bundle/Contents/Resources/StdExclusions.plist contains folders that are excluded by default.

sudo mdfind searches for files with a extended attribute.

tmutil addexclusion adds an extended attribute. sudo tmutil addexclusion -p adds the path to /Library/Preferences/

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Protip: (ugh) If you want to find the corresponding preference file on the file system for a system preference or application preference setting, I use this trick:

I makeup a word that would never possibly exist on my system (usually horrible offensive) something like "ShittleCheezeman"

Then I edit the preference that I want to track down and write that word into one of the preference settings that accepts a string or phrase and save the preference setting.

Then, right after that; I run something like:

sudo find / -name "*.plist" -mmin -10 -exec grep -l "ShittleCheezeman" {} \;

That will search every plist file on the whole system that has been modified in the last 10 minutes and list the one that contains the unique phrase. Or you might be able to use spotlight though I find it to be an unreliable software as most database-backed desktop apps tend to be

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Does this find the text in binary plists? – Mark Dec 27 '14 at 14:07
If you do -exec plutil -convert xml1 && grep -l "Phrase" {} \; it will convert the file to an XML plist first. You could also look into using PlistBuddy -c Print – Gregg Leventhal Dec 29 '14 at 14:49

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