defaults

access the Mac OS X user defaults system aka Apple's registry

defaults [-currentHost |
          -host hostname] read [domain [key]]
read-type domain key
write domain { 'plist' | key 'value' }
rename domain old_key new_key
delete [domain [key]]
{ domains | find word | help }

Mac OS X applications and other programs use the defaults system to record user preferences and other information that must be maintained when the applications aren't running (such as default font for new documents, or the position of an Info panel). Much of this information is accessible through an application's Preferences panel, but some of it isn't, such as the position of the Info panel.

applications access the defaults system while they're running, don't modify the defaults of a running application.

User defaults belong to domains, which typically correspond to individual applications. Each domain has a dictionary of keys and values representing its defaults; for example, "Default Font" = "Helvetica".
Keys are strings,
Values can be complex data structures comprising arrays, dictionaries, strings, and binary data. These data structures are stored as XML Property Lists.

applications, system services, and other programs have their own domains, they also share a domain named NSGlobalDomain. If a default isn't specified in the application's domain, it may be specified in NSGlobalDomain.

read outputs all of the user's defaults, for every domain, to standard output.
 > defaults read | wc 
13402

> defaults read |grep mozy
    "com.mozy.Config" =         (
    "com.mozy.Restore" =         ( Name = "mozyUinMain.scpt"; Name = "mozy-1_5_2_1-8404.dmg";)
    "com.mozy.Config" =     {
    "com.mozy.Status" =     { 


> defaults read /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd 
{
    Disabled = 1;
    EnvironmentVariables =     { "XPC_SERVICES_UNAVAILABLE" = 1; };
    Label = "org.apache.httpd";
    OnDemand = 0;
    ProgramArguments =     ( "/usr/sbin/httpd", "-D", FOREGROUND);
    SHAuthorizationRight = "system.preferences";
} 

defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles

read domain outputs all of the user's defaults for domain to standard output.
> defaults read com.oracle.java.JavaAppletPlugin
{ SULastCheckTime = "2013-10-19 22:52:01 +0000"; } 

read domain key outputs the value for the default of domain identified by key.
>  defaults read com.oracle.java.JavaAppletPlugin SULastCheckTime
2013-10-19 22:52:01 +0000

> defaults read com.mozy.Config
{
 BDSShowHiddenFilesKey = 1;
 "NSWindow Frame BackupSetEditorWindow"="386 197 484 549 0 0 1024 746";
 "NSWindow Frame ConfigurationWindow"="68 97 899 606 0 0 1024 746";
 "NSWindow Frame HistoryWindow"="103 193 829 553 0 0 1024 746";
}
read-type domain key outputs the plist type for the given domain identified by key.
>defaults read-type  com.oracle.java.JavaAppletPlugin SULastCheckTime
Type is date

write domain key 'value' Writes value as the value for key in domain. value must be a property list, and must be enclosed in single quotes. For example:

     defaults write com.companyname.appname "Default Color" '(255, 0, 0)'
sets the value for Default Color to an array containing the strings 255, 0, 0 (the red, green, and blue components). Note that the key is enclosed in quotation marks because it contains a space.

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles 1

write domain 'plist' Overwrites the defaults information in domain with that given as plist. plist must be a property list representation of a dictionary, and must be enclosed in single quotes. For example:

defaults write com.companyname.appname '{ "Default Color" = (255, 0, 0); "Default Font" = Helvetica; }';

erases any previous defaults for com.companyname.appname and writes the values for the two names into the defaults system.

delete domain Removes all default information for domain.
delete domain key Removes the default named key from domain.
domains outputs the names of all domains in the user's defaults system.
.byhost.dash01b0ard, AddressBookMe, MobileMeAccounts, UserEventAgent, cc.arduino.Arduino, com.10baseT.IPScannerMac, com.Affinegy.InstaLan,  com.Breakpad.crash_report_sender, com.Google.GoogleEarthPlugin, com.Growl.GrowlHelperApp, com.adobe.ARM, com.adobe.Reader, com.affinegy.    Whippet, com.alfredapp.Alfred, com.apple.ATS, com.apple.ActivityMonitor, com.apple.AddressBook, com.apple.AddressBook.abd, com.apple.       AddressBookSourceSync, com.apple.AppleMultitouchTrackpad, com.apple.AppleShareClient, com.apple.Automator, com.apple.BezelServices, com.    apple.BluetoothAudio, com.apple.BluetoothFileExchange,
…


360 entries 11/07/13 DGG
find word Searches for word in the domain names, keys, and values of the user's defaults, and outputs out a list of matches.
help  
Specifying domains:
domain If no flag is specified, domain is a domain name of the form com.companyname.appname. Example: defaults read com.apple.TextEdit
-app application The name of an application may be provided instead of a domain using the -app flag. Example: defaults read -app TextEdit
filepath Domains may also be specified as a path to an arbitrary plist file, omitting the '.plist' extension. For example: defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.TextEdit normally gives the same result as the two previous examples. write the key 'foo' with the value 'bar' into the plist file 'TestFile.plist' on the user's desktop. If the file does not exist, it will be created. If it does exist, the key-value pair will be added, overwriting the value of 'foo' if it already existed. defaults write ~/Desktop/TestFile foo bar WARNING: The defaults command will be changed in an upcoming major release to only operate on preferences domains. General plist manipulation utilities will be folded into a different command-line program.
-g
-globalDomain
NSGlobalDomain
sample
Specifying value types for preference keys:
Default to string. For best results, use one of the type flags:
-string
-data raw data bytes in hexidecimal.
-int[eger]
-float floating point number
-bool[ean] Value must be TRUE, FALSE, YES, or NO.
-date
-array defaults write somedomain preferenceKey -array element1 element2 element3

overwrites the value of the key , if the key was not present, it is created

-array-add add new elements to the end of an array
Usage is the same as -array above.
If the key was not present, it is created
-dict add/replace a dictionary . Keys and values are specified in order:
defaults write somedomain preferenceKey -dict key1 value1 key2 value2

If the key was present overwrites the value, If the key was not present, it is created

-dict-add add new key/value pairs to a dictionary for a key which has a dictionary as its value. Usage is the same as -dict .
If the key was not present, it is created

Specifying a host for preferences: Operations on the defaults database normally apply to any host the user may log in on, but may be restricted to apply only to a specific host. If no host is provided, preferences operations will apply to any host the user may log in on.

-currentHost Restricts preferences operations to the host the user is currently logged in on.
-host hostname Restricts preferences operations to hostname
BUGS
Defaults can be structured in very complex ways, making it difficult for the user to enter them with this command.

HISTORY First appeared in NeXTStep.

Mac OS X Nov 3, 2003


Command line interface to a user's defaults.

defaults [-currentHost | -host <hostname>]
followed by one of :

read shows all defaults example
read domain
read domain key

read-type domain key

write domain domain_rep writes domain (overwrites existing)
write domain key value

rename domain old_key new_key

delete domain
delete domain key

domains lists all domains as of 8/15/15
find word lists all entries containing word
help this

domain is ( domain_name | -app application_name | -globalDomain )
or a path to a file omitting .plist

value is one of:
value_rep
-string string_value
-data hex_digits
-int[eger] integer_value
-float floating-point_value
-bool[ean] (true | false | yes | no)
-date date_rep
-array value1 value2 ...
-array-add value1 value2 ...
-dict key1 value1 key2 value2 ...
-dict-add key1 value1 ...

Examples
defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
0
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
TRUE

finder all

safari all

Disk Util

login:sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow LoginwindowText "Should you really be logging in here?"

sudo defaults write /System/Library/Launch Daemons/com.apple.backupd-auto StartInterval -int 1800 (?plist?

defaults write com.feedface.ffview udn_dont_resize_img_ win 1

defaults write -app "App Store" ShowDebugMenu YES

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{ "tile-data" = { "list-type" = 1; }; "tile-type" = "recents-tile"; }'; killall Dock defaults write com.apple.dock largesize -int 512; killall Dock
defaults write com.apple.dock show-exposemenus -boolean no; killall Dock
defaults write com.apple.dock showhidden -bool YES; killall Dock
defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock
defaults write com.apple.dock mouse-over-hilitestack -boolean YES; killall Dock
defaults write com.apple.dock use-new-liststack -boolean YES; killall Dock

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES; killall Dock
defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES

defaults write com.apple.iTunes invertStore Links -bool YES

defaults write -g NSNavPanelExpandedState ForSaveMode -bool TRUE

defaults write com.apple.ScreenSharing controlObserveQuality 1

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type file-extension # jpg gif ??
defaults write com.apple.screencapture name "Anything you like"; killall SystemUIServer

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAll Files TRUE; killall Finder

defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKit DeveloperExtras -bool true

defaults write com.apple.iCal IncludeDebugMenu YES

defaults write com.apple.addressbook ABShow DebugMenu -bool YES

defaults write com.apple.finder QuitMenuItem -bool YES; killall Finder
defaults write com.apple.finder QLEnableXRayFolders -boolean YES

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

defaults write com.apple.Preview NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -bool false

defaults write com.apple.mail PreferPlainText -bool TRUE

defaults write com.apple.dock no-bouncing -bool TRUE See also, apple;Dock; Dock preferences

sample

sample full file

dslocal.db Directory:
/private/var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/users
suffix plist removed for clarity all dated:May 10 17:46

_amavisd           _installassistant _networkd         _trustevaluationagent
_appowner         _installer        _pcastagent       _unknown
_appserver        _jabber           _pcastlibrary     _update_sharing
_ard              _kadmin_admin     _pcastserver      _usbmuxd
_atsserver        _kadmin_changepw  _postfix          _uucp
_avbdeviced       _krb_anonymous    _postgres         _warmd
_calendar         _krb_changepw     _qtss             _webauthserver
_ces              _krb_kadmin       _sandbox          _windowserver
_clamav           _krb_kerberos     _screensaver      _www
_coreaudiod       _krb_krbtgt       _scsd             _xgridagent
_cvmsroot         _krbtgt           _securityagent    _xgridcontroller
_cvs              _lda              _serialnumberd    daemon
_cyrus            _locationd        _softwareupdate   dennisgerman
_devdocs          _lp               _spotlight        dgerman
_devicemgr        _mailman          _sshd             mgerman
_dovecot          _mcxalr           _svn              nobody
_dovenull         _mdnsresponder    _taskgated        root
_dpaudio          _mysql            _teamsserver      rut
_eppc             _netbios          _timezone
_ftp              _netstatistics    _tokend

 28310 Aug  5 14:17 mgerman.plist
637672 Aug  5 14:17 rut.plist
414720 Aug  6 10:54 dgerman.plist
299272 Aug  6 23:28 dennisgerman.plist
  1525 Aug  6 23:38 root.plist

Well there it is folks. For all you "my Apple Mac is better than your PC"
Does Mac OS X have a registry, YES this is it. And it's just as well (or not) documented as Micro$oft's! Apple mail defaults