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?

  • For followers, if your colors for a particular terminal "got messed up" (kids, heh), you may be able to restart Terminal app and get back to normal...without having to mess with anything.
    – rogerdpack
    Mar 15, 2021 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


Correct. Just quit Terminal.app, 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.

  • 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 ! Nov 30, 2013 at 16:50
  • 1
    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, 2013 at 17:20
  • Prefs cached ?? This sounds like a troubleshooting horror. Nov 30, 2013 at 17:54
  • I am on Mavericks. Nov 30, 2013 at 18:05
  • Deleting the Terminal preferences file is overkill and unnecessary: there is a command to restore the default profiles. See my answer: superuser.com/a/448679/81175
    – Chris Page
    Nov 3, 2015 at 19:32

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

  • Heh, how could I miss that? :) +1
    – slhck
    Jul 13, 2012 at 23:05
  • Hats off sir. I don't know either... Oct 29, 2015 at 17:39

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