For instance, I want to copy my Expose settings to another mac, as well as power management, appearance, and a couple of other things. Is this possible? If so how do I do it?


You'll find most system preferences in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration, and user preferences in ~/Library/Preferences/. For OS X most settings files will start with com.apple. To view the contents of such .plist files, you need Property List Editor (included in the Apple Developer Tools), or use plutil to convert it.

The Energy Saver settings are in com.apple.PowerManagement.plist. I guess Exposé might be included in the Dock preferences, com.apple.dock.plist. Its key bindings are in com.apple.symbolichotkeys.plist.

I'm not sure if copying the whole files is a good idea; surely you first need to peek into them to see what else is configured.

(I think com.apple.systempreferences.plist mainly holds the preferences of the System Preferences itself.)

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  • Thanks, yeah these worked but you need to be very careful. I made backups before I did anything and ran into a lot of trouble, so the backups helped. – GiH Nov 13 '10 at 17:28
  • @GiH, I kind of expected someone to mention Migration Assistant (in Applications, Utilities). But as you already accepted this answer, I decided to see for myself. No cigar: running it on two Macs gives you the option to (optionally) transfer Accounts, and/or files, and/or the preferences for Network Settings, Time Zone, and Sharing Settings. Not what you asked for. – Arjan Nov 13 '10 at 18:51
  • thanks for following up! I actually had already attempted migration assistant, should have mentioned that, but like you said it wouldn't do what I was asking for. Manually moving those files over worked perfectly, I just suggest backing up first and ONLY moving over the files you actually need and again, being careful. Always good to inspect the files as well. – GiH Nov 14 '10 at 17:21

I have not tried this, but it should theoretically be possible to copy the contents of /System/Library/PreferencePanes/ from one MacOS installation to another to copy over different system preferences.

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  • I just tried that and it didn't save the preferences, only copied the pane. – GiH Nov 13 '10 at 7:46

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