On OS X I'd like to change the "Kind" label associated with files. Many of my files are showing up as "Plain Text File" when they are really javascript, php, css, and other file types.

I don't have a problem getting them to open with the application I want, it's easy to do - there are lots of threads on this.

The thing that bugs me is when I have a big folder with lots of files in it, I'd like to be able to sort by Kind and have all css, all php, and all js files together.

enter image description here

I saw file type which crashes on OSX, and I saw quickchange but I'm not sure if that's really what I need.

Maybe somebody else has dealt with this before and knows how to fix it?

  • Interesting. It does not seem to be related to the veritable command line utility file. Mar 28, 2011 at 0:29
  • Surely you can just set something like TextWrangler as the default file handler for JS, PHP and CSS files? Then it'll list them as TextWrangler files.
    – user3463
    Mar 28, 2011 at 3:54
  • 1
    I think the problem might have been with coda. Daniel Beck helped solve it below. A follow up question, though: So what is the quickchange utility I found (above) used for? It has something for a 4 letter "type" and a 4 letter "creator"... ?
    – cwd
    Mar 28, 2011 at 13:39

5 Answers 5


The file kind is usually set by the application that handles that file type in Launch Services. For most of them, this is the application opening a file type by default, in your case, Coda.

Applications specify file types in their Contents/Info.plist file. You can see and edit it by right-clicking the application bundle and selecting Show Package Contents.

It looks like the Panic folks messed up something. All file types they define are PlainTextType:

enter image description here

You can change the name of the file type by editing all Document Type Name entries in Property List Editor, or all CFBundleTypeName entries when editing the file in a normal text editor. Just replace what you want to appear as description instead.

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Edit, save, and make sure Launch Services notices (restart, log out, or just move the application to a different folder and back again), and the result looks like this:

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You need to repeat this whenever there's an update to the application, since those replace the Info.plist file you edited. Best to report a bug to the developers at Panic.

  • and the folks at Panic will (probably) report that a .php, .js, or .css file is still a plain text file. its semantics, and that isn't the purpose of UTIs. this isn't a new debate; UTIs have beem misunderstood and misused since their inception, partly because of this very issue, which apple, in their infinite wisdom, has done nothing to address, yet.
    – peelman
    Mar 28, 2011 at 6:05
  • @peelman Apple doesn't do it like this in TextEdit's Info.plist. They are actually capable to provide proper Document Type Names. And users care more about Finder's Kind column than the technical aspects of UTIs.
    – Daniel Beck
    Mar 28, 2011 at 6:50
  • @db - is PListEdit Pro the same thing as Property List Editor? I have the first and my screen looks a bit different. Thanks for a rather comprehensive answer :)
    – cwd
    Mar 28, 2011 at 13:22
  • nm, just found Property List Editor in the /Developer/Applications/Utilities folder. I didn't have QS cataloging that folder. oops.
    – cwd
    Mar 28, 2011 at 13:28
  • I was looking for something on those lines but is it possible to change how the finder manages the sorting, as discussed here?
    – Konrad
    Apr 16, 2015 at 14:22

I had this happen when I upgraded to Office 2016 and removed Office 2011 — the Finder decided that .dot files (MS Word 97-2004 templates) were GraphViz DOT files, even though I didn't have GraphViz installed, and decided that Nisus Writer should be the default application.

I managed to fix the default application the easy way in the Finder (Get Info / Open With: / Change All…), but the file kind was still wrong. Per Daniel Beck's answer I checked the Info.plists of Word 2016 and Nisus Writer, but they both were correct.

I ended up having to rebuild the Launch Services registry with

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/Current/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/Current/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

(from the Terminal) and that finally fixed it.


its up to the saving program to set the UTI (uniform type identifier) for a given file. if you manage to change them, then edit the file in whatever program you created them in that set them as plain text, they will likely be reverted to plain text when you re-save.

technically those files ARE plain text, they can be opened by any editor that supports the plain text UTI, which is the purpose UTIs serve, so this isn't an inaccuracy, its a semantics exercise. i personally avoid such issues by putting my images, stylesheets and javascript files in subfolders.

regardless, you likely need to scour your chosen editor and see if it supports a way to define UTI->file extension relationships, or a way ro define what UTI a file is aaved with.


OS X Core Types descriptions can be changed by editing InfoPlist.strings within the CoreTypes.bundle.

The property list is a compiled binary, so just in case make a backup before editing it.System updates will probably overwrite it, so keep a copy or (which I recommend) link your edited version to the orginal's location - assuming that your copy is named InfoPlist.strings.custom and is in the same dir as orginal:

cd /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/English.lproj

cp InfoPlist.strings InfoPlist.strings.custom - your custom copy

mv InfoPlist.strings InfoPlist.strings.backup - moving orginal

open InfoPlist.strings.custom with TextMate since it parses binary property lists nicely, assuming you got mate installed:

mate /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/InfoPlist.strings.custom

once you are done with your edits, link the orginal file in place:

sudo ln -s /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/InfoPlist.strings.custom /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/InfoPlist.strings

and relaunch Finder with killall Finder – you should see the changes in finder after that.

for example I changed "Portable Document Format (PDF)" = "Portable Document Format (PDF)"; to "Portable Document Format (PDF)" = "PDF"; and...say bye bye to annoying long "Kind" strings in Finder :-)

Before enter image description here After enter image description here

NOTE: I use english as system's language – if you got any other language set, you need to change the dir's name to appropriate language:

cd /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/German.lproj/ <- for example, let's say German

Update 1 (found out about plutil):

you can use plutil to convert from binary format to XML or JSON

sudo plutil -convert json InfoPlist.strings -o InfoPlist.strings.json

after editing the .json, convert (compile?) it back to a binary format:

sudo plutil -convert binary1 InfoPlist.strings.json -o InfoPlist.strings


want to find out where this annoying 'Kind' strings is?

sudo find ./ -name '*.plist' -o -name '*.strings' -exec plutil -p {} \; | grep"annoying" where annoying is the thing that annoys the s**t out of the day


Have a look at duti

A command line tool to select default applications for file types, on OS X

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