How To: Change OS X’s Annoying Default Settings Using Terminal

Change OS X’s Annoying Default Settings Using Terminal

When setting up a new Mac, there can be a bunch of settings that need to be changed in order to get the system running the way you like it. That usually involves going through tons of System Preferences panes and app settings—but it doesn't have to.

If you'd rather get everything set up using just one app and a couple of minutes, then you have to get used to firing up Terminal whenever you load a fresh copy of OS X.

For those of you who have never used Terminal commands to change up your system settings, I've thrown together a list of my go-to commands to get my Mac up and running fast. As the El Capitan beta is still in an early form, your mileage may vary with these commands if you're using that OS.

Command #1: Always Show Scroll Bars

First is a command that will replace the need to go into your System Preferences to enable your scroll bar to always show. This will make it easier to grab the bar and drag it down a page to scroll faster.

  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleShowScrollBars -string "Always"

You can also substitute "Always" with "WhenScrolling" or "Automatic."

Command #2: Expand Save & Print Panels by Default

These next commands set the Print and Save dialog boxes to be expanded by default, so you no longer have to click the drop down arrow to select a different printer or destination folder.

Save Menu

  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSNavPanelExpandedStateForSaveMode -bool true
  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSNavPanelExpandedStateForSaveMode2 -bool true

(Note: those seemingly large spaces in the commands above are really just one space each.)

Print Menu

  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain PMPrintingExpandedStateForPrint -bool true
  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain PMPrintingExpandedStateForPrint2 -bool true

To revert back, simply change the "true" values at the end of these commands to "false."

Command #3: Disable Natural Scrolling

If you not a fan of the "natural" scrolling feature that was introduced in OS X Lion, you can disable it with this command:

  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain -bool false

To re-enable natural scrolling, change "false" to "true."

Command #4: Disable Autocorrect

To truly test your spelling skills, you can disable autocorrect with the following command:

  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticSpellingCorrectionEnabled -bool false

To re-enable autocorrect, change "false" to "true."

Command #5: Remove All Default Icons from the Dock

When you get a new Mac, the Dock is flooded with useless icons that can more easily be reached with the Launchpad. To purge it of all the default app icons and start fresh, use this next command:

  • defaults delete persistent-apps
  • defaults delete persistent-others
  • killall Dock

Command #6: Prevent Safari from Opening Safe Files Automatically

For some reason, Apple thought is necessary to have Safari automatically open downloaded files if they were deemed "safe." I rarely open files right away, so if you fall into that same category, use this last Terminal command to disable that feature:

  • defaults write AutoOpenSafeDownloads -bool false

Again, you can re-enable it but changing "false" to "true."

More Terminal Commands to Know

Those were just the commands I use every time I install a fresh OS X version. Do you have any good ones to add? Find out you like using Terminal? Check out the guides below for some more useful ways that Terminal can help you out on your Mac.

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