I had this strange behaviour on my Mac running OS X my Mac running OS X El Capitan 10.11.6.

When logging in, I have the following keyboard shortcut conflict between Spotlight and keyboard layout switcher:

Enabled keyboard shortcut

After disabling it, conflict disappears:

Disabled keyboard shortcut

But if I restart my Mac, the configuration was reset back to first step.

Same problem if I changed the keyboard shortcut: It was reset to default configuration after any restart, whatever the shortcut.

What is happening and why OS X isn't able to keep my keyboard preferences?


I indicate here two solutions because the problem may be caused by either :

  • ownership
  • plist file

Ownership problem

To troubleshoot my problem, I opened a Terminal and tried to find which configuration file had a problem:

cd Library/Preferences
ls -l com.apple.*

And in the middle of all my com.apple.* files I found one owned by root:

-rw-------   1 myuser  staff      485 19 jan  2018 com.apple.speech.voice.prefs.plist
-rw-------   1 myuser  staff      107 22 jan  2018 com.apple.suggestions.plist
-rw-------   1 root    wheel     2644 11 apr  2018 com.apple.symbolichotkeys.plist
-rw-------   1 myuser  staff      110 12 oct 10:00 com.apple.syncserver.plist
-rw-------   1 myuser  staff     1862 26 nov 14:04 com.apple.systempreferences.plist

So I thought is was not normal. Using find, I tried to see if there were other files owned by root:

$ find ~/Library/Preferences -user root

But it was the only one.

So I just changed ownership:

chown myuser ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.symbolichotkeys.plist

And restarted my computer to verify: bingo !

It was an ownership problem that prevented macOS to save my keybord shortcut preferences.

PList file

Sometimes, System Preferences pane could not keep some options after a restart (e.g. Keyboard and symbol visualizers).

So I tried something else: I backed up and then removed the com.apple.symbolichotkeys.plist file.

After a system reboot, System Preferences works better.

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