Reconfiguring Prefs After OS Reinstall (MAC 10.6.8))
September 25, 2012 2:32 PM   Subscribe

My Mac (OS 10.6.8) is behaving wonkily, and I need to reinstall the system software. I'm wondering if there are any tricks for helping me reconfiguring my various prefs after the reinstall.

Some of my prefs are fairly extensive (e.g. keyboard shortcuts, spotlight privacy exclusions, etc). I'd rather avoid swapping back old pref files (e.g. because I don't want to inadvertently swap back any corruption.

I was planning on taking zillions of screenshots of all the panels to guide me in the reconfiguration after the reinstall. Is that really the best way?

I'm wondering if there might be some app that captures all pref data in a reference-able form....something like that?

Also wondering if it would be prudent to swap back pref files from third party add-ons, e.g. Growl, Default Folder X, etc. Are they in any way sandboxed from OS innards?
posted by Quisp Lover to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If it were me, I'd go with backing up and then selectively restoring the plists. Before you restore a plist, make another backup of the pristine version from the fresh install; that way, if restoring a plist leads to wonky behavior you can just reverse it.
posted by flabdablet at 6:37 PM on September 25, 2012

Yeah, that was the standard procedure back in the System 7 days. But there are a lot more plists (and other sorts of prefs documents) today. So I'm figuring that route would be more maddening than just spending a couple hours doing the reconfigs.

Meanwhile, this seems interesting...
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:59 PM on September 25, 2012

A quick first thing to try, if you can, is re-update to 10.6.8 from the combo updater, this often does a better job that incremental updates.

Have you tried creating a new account? That might tell you if the behaviour is specific to your account or is system wide. Of course some behaviour may be one some the other, but it is a useful observation.

If you're lucky, the wonkiness may be caused by a single setting, if you're unlucky it is caused by multiple settings in multiple files. I know which way I'd bet and any approach to recreating what you used to have sounds like the path to madness to me. I'd be tempted to reinstall the system afresh and just start using it, fixing errant prefs as I go. Perhaps keep a backup of principal system and user plists for reference but mainly just start afresh.
posted by epo at 1:44 AM on September 26, 2012

Combo updater, fer sure!

And, yeah, I've synched back in prefs files I really don't want to reconfig, and the rest I'll pluck as I go. I've copied the prefs folder from the backup disk, renamed it and hid it in my documents folder, and I can just grab from there if I need to.

posted by Quisp Lover at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2012

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