I would like to know where I can find a list of all possible defaults write terminal commands. (Core OS X related commands, not any due to user installed software.)

Here is an example command (which doesn't work in El Capitan by the way) which demonstrates

defaults write com.apple.driver.AppleBluetoothMultitouch.mouse MouseHorizontalScroll -bool NO
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    There is no such list. The documentation for preferences is here developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/MacOSX/Conceptual/…
    – mmmmmm
    Sep 2, 2016 at 19:05
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    You can believe whatever you'd like. It's possible Apple has an internal document like this, but no such public document exists. These are hidden settings that are not intended to be set by the user, hence the fact they require a Terminal command to use. "Big companies like Apple" generally don't write manuals of hidden commands that they don't intend for the user to access.
    – tubedogg
    Sep 2, 2016 at 19:45
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    I don't know why you added the initial comments. Usually it's when someone knows they are asking something that's either off topic or not clearly researched and it invites comments to clarify. Same with the welcome - it invites dialog. Sorry if you felt the greeting was awkward.
    – bmike
    Sep 3, 2016 at 15:07
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    Thing is, if you start with the wrong attitude ie, expecting that no-one knows as much as you do & it is almost beneath your dignity to even have to ask us - then you're not going to get much in the way of happy responses. Having got that off my chest, try this... apple.stackexchange.com/a/195290/85275 - I can claim nothing but half-decent Google Fu.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 6, 2016 at 18:21
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    defaults read Jul 11, 2017 at 9:01

2 Answers 2


This is like asking for a list of all possible websites or all possible registry settings. These commands write to Apple and non-Apple software, and will vary depending on the apps/services installed and their versions.

Since this isn't a single unified settings database, I wouldn't assume Apple maintains a single document or manual on the settings.

  • Well it's not is it. There are some core commands for OS X El Capitan. Those are the ones I am interested in. Sep 2, 2016 at 18:53
  • Well that's very specifically not what you asked.
    – samh
    Sep 2, 2016 at 18:54
  • See the above - it says explicitly OS X El Capitan Sep 2, 2016 at 18:54
  • There are multiple versions of El Cap, depending on point-updates and security patches. But the point is, OS X isn't a single piece of software. It's a lot of components written across many teams. And, in any case, I don't believe such a list as you have requested is available. Your insistence that there must be does not make it so.
    – samh
    Sep 2, 2016 at 19:18
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    @user3728501, Apple is known for not openly publishing considerable reams of documentation and it has absolutely nothing to do with users coping abilities. The defaults command first appeared in NeXTStep before Steve Jobs came back to Apple and its purchase of NeXTStep. Sep 2, 2016 at 19:46

Things like this aren't always documented. I've seen keys change between minor versions as well as major ones, which adds to the difficulty in creating/maintaining such a document.

In this case, the key you're using MouseHorizontalScroll is still correct it's not working in the latest version. :( I've heard this is working in the latest seeds of macOS Sierra, though.


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