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?

1 Answer 1


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 visualizer and symbol visualizer).

For shortcut problems

Back up and then remove the com.apple.symbolichotkeys.plist file.


This file seems to keep information of Shortcut's section in System Preferences pane.

For Keyboard Visualiser / Symbol Visualizer problems

Back up and then remove the com.apple.HIToolbox.plist file.


This file seems to keep information of Keyboard's section in System Preferences pane.

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