Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Mac OS X has a commandline tool called "defaults". It lets you set certain properties, for example:

enable the "Debug" menu in Safari:

defaults write IncludeDebugMenu 1

What is the most useful "hidden" "defaults write ..." command you have ever issued?


locked by HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 7:23

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: help center.

closed as off topic by Mark Henderson Dec 18 '11 at 10:51

Questions on Server Fault are expected to relate to server, networking, or related infrastructure administration within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

There is a database of these hidden settings at They also offer a free PrefPane you can install to twiddle these (instead of cutting and pasting from the website into Terminal).


My favorites:

defaults write TargetedClicksCreateTabs -bool TRUE

The above forces all links to open in new tabs, instead of new windows.

defaults write location "/path/to/save/screenshots"

This one saves your screenshots somewhere else, other than your desktop.

defaults write type PDF

And this one changes the format of your screenshoots to PDF. I am sure some might find this one handy.

defaults write showhidden -bool YES

ghosts out the icons of apps that are currently hidden.

Well, actually, the most useful I ever wrote was, IIRC:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSInterfaceStyle NextStep

but that doesn't do anything on versions of OS X with Aqua :-(.

ah, NextStep, the sweet memories... :) – Kris May 6 '09 at 12:45
actually, that was Rhapsody - which by default used a Platinum interface style. – user448 May 6 '09 at 16:03
defaults write DSDontWriteNetworkStores true

Disables the creation of .DS_Store files on Network Shares.

defaults write AppleDisplayScaleFactor .75

Shrink iTunes to 75% normal size. It's off-topic, and not really that useful (unless you're using a small display), but fun enough that I can't resist posting it. It works for other apps too, e.g. To shrink by 50%:

defaults write AppleDisplayScaleFactor .5
how is this off-topic? i think it's awesome and i didn't know it yet – Kris May 29 '09 at 14:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.