How do you set a soft limit for maxopenfiles in Yosemite?

I installed Yosemite last night, and now it's ignoring my settings in my /etc/launchd.conf file:

$ cat /etc/launchd.conf
limit maxfiles 32768 65536

$ launchctl limit maxfiles
    maxfiles    256            unlimited

3 Answers 3


It looks like Apple removed support for /etc/launchd.conf for security reasons. It no longer exists on a clean Yosemite install.

From the man launchctl file:

launchctl no longer has an interactive mode, nor does it accept commands from stdin. The /etc/launchd.conf file is no longer consulted for subcommands to run during early boot time; this functionality was removed for security considerations.


I created a /etc/sysctl.conf file with the following contents:


If I run sysctl kern.maxfiles after restarting it does show the new value there.


Suggested method for most versions of macOS is to create the property list file (.pfile) of a user agent in a LaunchAgents directory.

This can be created by the following command:

sudo /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy /Library/LaunchAgents/com.launchd.maxfiles.plist -c "add Label string com.launchd.maxfiles" -c "add ProgramArguments array" -c "add ProgramArguments: string launchctl" -c "add ProgramArguments: string limit" -c "add ProgramArguments: string maxfiles" -c "add ProgramArguments: string 10240" -c "add ProgramArguments: string unlimited" -c "add RunAtLoad bool true"

Documentation page: Creating Launch Daemons and Agents.

Related: How to persistently control maximum system resource consumption on Mac?

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