A Solution For Wonky Problems

A wonky problem with your Mac is a weird problem that is driving you nuts because it doesn’t seem logical. I made that definition up in case you have any doubt. It covers a lot of territory.

One of the kind readers of this blog has been having a problem with the Stickies app that comes as part of her Mountain Lion (10.8) operating system and as she described it, it finally occurred to me that the Stickies preferences may have gone bad – thus the wonkey diagnosis.

This does happen, but thankfully you can fix it yourself. Actually, I am going to suggest a fix and a prevention – since this is Mother’s Day this is a twofer.

The app preference files, or p-list files, are found in the system library files. The app preference files are not the same as the app preferences. The app preference files control the preference. The fix is to close the app in question, find the p-list files, delete them, and then reopen the app in question. The p-list files will remake themselves and everyone lives happily ever after. The only catch being you might (most probably) have to reset the preferences for that app.

In Lion and Mountain Lion Apple hid the system library files to keep people who didn’t know what they were doing from causing themselves problem. But if you know what you are doing everything is cool.

As I said, start by closing the application that needs fixing. Make sure you are in the finder window and then hold down the option key* while you click on the Go menu and the Library option will appear. Open the Library folder and scroll down to the Preferences folder. That Preferences folder will have a bunch of stuff in it. Just keep going till you see stuff that says com.apple…..  Those are all the p.list files. Find the ones that pertain to the app you are trying to fix and move them out to your desktop. Move ALL of them. In the case of the Stickies app you are looking for


Just leave them out on your desktop and open your app back up and see if the problem has been solved. If it has, trash the p.lists you put on your desktop. If the problem is still there, then you can choose to put them back in the library file, only to prevent yourself from having to reset any preferences you may have lost.

*Thanks to Nathan Lott for this Library shortcut

Here is the second part of this twofer. A few months ago I installed a wonderful app called CleanMyMac 2 from MacPaw. It cost US $39.95 for a single license and there are discounts if you get more than one license. I run it on a set time schedule and not only does it release all kinds of free space on my drive, it fixes things as it goes. I have not had to deal with bad preference problems a single time in the months that I have been using it. Prior to that, it was a routine occurrence for me to have to utilize the fix mentioned above. There is also an app called CleanMyDrive from the same company. I have met these folks (Macworld) and this is a topnotch company. I recommend checking them out.

This entry was posted in 2013 Macworld New Products, Lion Tips, Mac Tips, Mountain Lion Tips, p-list tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Solution For Wonky Problems

  1. Thanks for the wonky option! I removed the plist files and nothing changed, BUT in the process I tried something else that got rid of that persistent sticky–with the sticky active, File/Close. Who’d a thunk it? **Whatever works.** And your post got me a solution, indirectly.

    I’ve been using CleanMyMac2 on this computer for several weeks. It was included in the MacHeist nanobundle recently. If I’d known the MacHeist license was only for one computer, I’d have bought two bundles so I could use it on my other machine as well {wry grin}. I’ve freed up a lot of space. I have heard that some of the iPhoto clean-up removes cropped and edited versions of images, which would be a caveat for those using it. I’m okay with having to re-crop an image in the future, so that’s not a big deal for me.

    Again, thank you!

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