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I accidentally renamed my "Basic" terminal profile under Terminal -> Preferences -> Settings. I renamed it back but this got me wondering if there was a way to reset all terminal settings to defaults. So for example if I renamed "Basic" to "Foo" is there a command or way to reset it back to "Basic" without having to select it and rename?

Is it just a matter of deleting the .plist file in ~/Library?

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migrated from May 21 '12 at 19:50

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Correct. Just quit, and make a backup of the following file, then delete it.


Terminal will create a new, default one once you restart it. Your preferences are stored in that preference list file – a normal Dictionary.

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Strangely, I cannot reset my Terminal app to the default settings. I had chosen Novel rather than Basic, and now the Terminal keeps giving me Novel. And a bug ! –  Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 30 '13 at 16:50
I heard that on OS X Mavericks, the preferences are all cached, so this might be an explanation if you're on 10.9. –  slhck Nov 30 '13 at 17:20
Prefs cached ?? This sounds like a troubleshooting horror. –  Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 30 '13 at 17:54
I am on Mavericks. –  Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 30 '13 at 18:05

Yes, there’s a command to restore all the built-in settings profiles (each item in the Settings list is called a “settings profile” or “profile”):

In the Preferences window, in the Settings panel:

  1. Click the action (gear) button at the bottom of the list.
  2. Choose Restore Defaults.

This will reset modified profiles and recreate any that have been deleted or renamed. Custom profiles are left as-is. (In your specific case this means that your renamed “Basic” will remain and a new “Basic” will be created.)

Restore Default Terminal Settings Profiles

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Heh, how could I miss that? :) +1 –  slhck Jul 13 '12 at 23:05

Note that for 10.9+ (Mavericks) you cannot just delete ~/Library/Preferences/ as the preferences are cached.

Instead, start Terminal (ironically) and use:

$ defaults delete

Then close and re-open Terminal.

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