I often reset my Mac to a clean state by reinstalling OS X. Unfortunately I do not have enough space or budget for a complete Time Machine backup.

OS: Mavericks

Is there a way to grab my current settings and create a script that copies the following information:

  1. Common settings in OS X such as wallpaper, Dock, Language & Region, Keyboard, Network settings (several static IP settings as backup and for a NAS).
  2. Specific application settings such Android Studio and other App Store applications such as Divvy.
  3. Environment variables

Out of Scope:

  1. Backup/Restore customized contextual menu settings file under Finder.app/Contents/Resources/Japanese.lproj/Localizable.strings (I learned how to change this setting on Super User, but if you have an idea on how to backup the setting, please let me know.)
  • Settings "such as wallpapers", or what else do you need to transfer? There are so many configurations one could set, and it's impossible to transfer all of this without Time Machine. By "rebuild" do you mean a complete reinstallation of OS X? Do you reinstall OS X so frequently that there's a real use case for this?
    – slhck
    Feb 18, 2014 at 15:35
  • @slhck♦, I added the item "scripting target" and make my question more clearly than before. and it's same rebuild means as you and I have suspicious matter sometimes so I usually rebuild my mac once a month. If I could know about the way. It will help me to grow my skills about osx. Thank you for your advice. and I will be able to learn about common English in this site also.
    – Juza
    Feb 19, 2014 at 6:50
  • Thanks for adding details – I reopened your question. Your English is good. I'm glad Super User helps you to improve it.
    – slhck
    Feb 19, 2014 at 7:06

1 Answer 1


The last time I did a clean reinstall I just copied the whole ~/Library/Preferences/ directory to the new installation, and I didn't run into any issues because of it. Settings for old versions of applications and machine-specific settings are usually ignored. ~/Library/Preferences/ is almost empty on a new installation, and if you delete all files there, the files are recreated when they are needed.

The settings for sandboxed applications are now stored in ~/Library/Containers/. Network settings are stored in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ and settings for desktop pictures are stored in ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/desktoppicture.db.

It might be easier to copy only ~/Library/Preferences/ and recreate other settings manually.

If you don't have backups, it is also possible to do a clean install on a new partition. Start up from the recovery partition, create a new partition from Disk Utility, choose Reinstall OS X, and select the new partition. You can then use Migration Assistant to transfer data from the old partition.

  • Thank you for the information. I will try it in a couple of days
    – Juza
    Feb 20, 2014 at 6:22

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