.PLIST File Extension

Property List

Developer Apple
3.7  |  206 Votes

What is a PLIST file?

A PLIST file is a properties list used by a macOS or iOS application. It defines many of the app's default settings and can store user settings. Most commonly, PLIST files are saved as binary files or XML files. In either case, PLIST files are typically not meant to be opened or edited by users.

More Information

Screenshot of a .plist file in Apple Xcode
PLIST file open in Apple Xcode

While developing a macOS or iOS application, developers create PLIST files that define several key pieces of the app's configuration information and metadata. Typically, these PLIST files are XML files, which store a list of Keys (setting names) and Values (settings).

As a developer finalizes their application for delivery to end users, they often convert some or all of their PLIST files to a binary format. For example, developers often convert PLIST files that track a user's preferences to binary. Thus, PLIST files packaged with or installed by an app may be plain text files or binary files.

NOTE: Some Apple applications for Windows, such as iTunes and Safari, also use PLIST files. Additionally, in some rare cases, PLIST files may use JSON formatting.

Common PLIST Filenames

Info.plist - The primary property list for macOS applications, located in the /​Contents/​ directory of an .APP bundle. To view this file, right-click an application file, select Show Package Contents, and open the Contents folder.

How to open a PLIST file

In most cases, you should not open or edit a PLIST file. Doing so may cause the app that uses that PLIST file to function incorrectly.

However, if you want to open a PLIST file, to view or edit the settings it contains, you can do so with Apple's Property List Editor (bundled with Apple Xcode). The program can open both plain text and binary PLIST files.

How to convert a PLIST file

In macOS, you can use the plutil command to convert PLIST files between the XML and binary PLIST formats:

  • Binary to XML: plutil -convert xml1 file.plist
  • XML to Binary: plutil -convert binary1 file.plist

In Linux, you can use the Withgraphite Plutil utility to convert PLIST files between the XML and binary PLIST formats.

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Programs that open or reference PLIST files

Verified by FileInfo.com

The FileInfo.com team has independently researched the Property List file format and Mac, Windows, and Linux apps listed on this page. Our goal is 100% accuracy and we only publish information about file types that we have verified.

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