Is there any way to easily know which setting a TinkerTool option relates to in Mac OS X?

For example, the Show Hidden and System Files setting seems to be related to com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles. What about all the other settings?

  • 2
    Spotlight search within past (hour, day, minute) for plist files. – Tuesday Mar 23 '12 at 5:20
  • Is this curiosity, or what do you plan to use this information for? – Daniel Mar 25 '12 at 1:53
  • @DanielL: I originally was wondering because I thought it could help another user based on this answer I provided. However, I think it could benefit other people if there is a specific setting that TinkerTool fixes for them, but they don't want to have to install the entire product. – Senseful Mar 26 '12 at 7:17
  • Ah. To try to duplicate its functionality without installing it. Makes sense. – Daniel Mar 26 '12 at 11:21

Here’s a generic solution to find out what changed after applying a certain setting. I used this to create my .osx file which is full of hidden OS X tweaks.

Open Terminal.app, cd into a temporary directory, and check the difference between defaults read output before and after changing the setting.

cd /tmp
defaults read > a
# change the setting using TinkerTool or however you like
defaults read > b
diff a b # view the difference

If you’d rather use a UI to view the diffs instead of the diff binary, you could download the Kaleidoscope.app trial.

Alternatively, you could do a Spotlight search within the past hour/day/minute for plist files. That will only tell you which file changed, though; you would still have to figure out which setting in the file was tweaked.


This may not really be the answer you´re looking for, but I´d suggest having a look at secrets.blacktree.com for a very good database of hidden OS X settings (they also offer a preference pane to manipulate them).

If you´re looking for a more specific function that is available in TinkerTool, chances are that someone around here will know the command line way for it ;-)


The most GUI-friendly way I can think of would be to use the endlessly-fascinating fseventer, which lets you see which files on your disk are changing, in real time. With a bit of filtering, you can narrow it down to showing only those files that are changing in your Preferences folders, as you make settings changes in TinkerTool (or anywhere else).

  • That app sounds very useful. The link is broken though. – Senseful Mar 23 '12 at 21:21
  • Link works fine for me in Safari (just tried it again), but you can navigate to the fseventer download from their home page too: fernlightning.com – calum_b Mar 26 '12 at 10:25

Here is something you might try:

1) Purchase the paid version of TinkerTool for €11.90. It's called TinkerTool System 2.

2) Send an email to the developer, Marcel Bresink. Tell him that you are a paid customer. Ask him nicely if he will tell you the answer to your specific question.

I don't know Marcel, but in my experience, independent shareware software developers are very helpful when you help them out by buying one of their modestly-priced products.

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