How to Convert a .PLIST File to Text

Property list (.plist) files are used primarily by macOS and iOS to store serialized objects, such as settings and configurations. A .plist file can be in one of two formats: XML or binary. If you have a .plist file and want to convert it to a text format (i.e., human-readable XML), follow these steps:

1. Using Xcode (macOS only):

Xcode, the development environment for macOS, is one of the easiest tools to view and edit .plist files.

  • Open Xcode.
  • File > Open and select your .plist file.
  • Once opened, you can view the content in a structured editor. If you want a text representation, you can copy the contents and paste them into a text editor.

2. Using the plutil command (macOS only):

The plutil command-line tool can be used to convert between different .plist formats.

  • Open Terminal.
  • Use the following command to convert a binary .plist to XML:
    plutil -convert xml1 -o output.plist input.plist

    Where input.plist is the name of your original plist file, and output.plist is the name of the converted file. The output.plist file will be in XML format.

  • If you just want to view the content in Terminal, you can use:
    plutil -p input.plist

3. Using third-party tools:

There are various third-party tools available (both online and offline) that can convert .plist files to text or other formats. If you’re not on macOS or want a different way to do this, a simple online search for “plist converter” should provide some options. Be cautious when using online tools, especially if your .plist file contains sensitive or private information.

Once you’ve converted the .plist file to XML format, you can open it with any text editor to view or edit the content.

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