I just went to use Property List Editor to look at a .plist file and it no longer works in Sierra



My Setup

Mid-2010 15" MBP macOS Sierra 10.12


Crucial Comment

I do not want to use Xcode to open .plist files, it's too much for such a simple task. The Property List Editor was perfect.


What I have Found

As of 2016-09-13 The Apple Developer website describes Xcode as the only option to edit .plist files (search for: About Information Property List Files)

Apple mentions using Xcode to generate and work with .plist files but there has to be another way.


  1. Is the Property List Editor App done in macOS Sierra?

  2. If so, other than Xcode, are there any simple programs like the Property List Editor that people recommend?


Thank you for your responses!



  1. This is not a "duplicate" question. This question is specifically for those who are used to using Property List Editor and have lost it as an option when upgrading to macOS Sierra. So keeping this question thread will help others with the specific issue, especially if they are not a fan of using Xcode to work with plist files and/or do not know how to work with plist files through terminal.

  2. The solution linked in the "claimed" duplicate thread can be useful to those familiar with terminal.

  3. Those familiar with terminal, you can also use rlwrap and PlistBuddy, which IS currently working in macOS Sierra. See: A Simple PlistBuddy Tutorial

  4. Those not familiar with terminal who want to avoid Xcode: sorry, I haven't found a solution for you but I'll keep looking into it. If anyone else has a suggestion please add it. If there are other *exchange posts with software recommendations please feel free to link them for other users in the future.

  • I use BBEdit. It will open binary plists and save them correctly. It won't protect you from destroying the tag structure if you make severe and incorrect edits: but knowing what you're doing is a useful skill. ;-)
    – benwiggy
    Aug 15, 2020 at 9:27

1 Answer 1



I have used Pref Setter in the past to edit .plist files graphically.

brew cask install pref-setter

Any text editor (including Text Edit) will work if the file is non-binary. If you right click on any .plist file and click "Get Info", under "Open With" there should be an option to change the default editor for it, which you would then change to Pref Setter. If you click on "Change All", it will change it for every .plist file on your system.

  • 12
    Not every plist file is text some are binary apple.stackexchange.com/questions/101719/…
    – mmmmmm
    Sep 28, 2016 at 17:59
  • It's true that some plist files are binary, but note that some files that open as unreadable binary in (say) Sublime will open as corrupted-looking but still sorta readable in TextEdit. Nov 28, 2017 at 6:45
  • 3
    Error: This cask does not run on macOS versions newer than Mojave.
    – Carl Walsh
    Jul 30, 2020 at 19:07

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