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  6. libcnary/
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  21. NEWS


A small portable C library to handle Apple Property List files in binary, XML, JSON, or OpenStep format.


The project provides an interface to read and write plist files in binary, XML, JSON, or OpenStep format alongside a command-line utility named plistutil.

Some key features are:

  • Formats: Supports binary, XML, JSON, and OpenStep format
  • Utility: Provides a plistutil utility for the command-line
  • Python: Provides Cython based bindings for Python
  • Tested: Uses fuzzing and data compliance tests
  • Efficient: Lean library with performance and resources in mind

Installation / Getting started

Debian / Ubuntu Linux

First install all required dependencies and build tools:

sudo apt-get install \
	build-essential \
	checkinstall \
	git \
	autoconf \
	automake \

If you want to optionally build the documentation or Python bindings use:

sudo apt-get install \
	doxygen \

Then clone the actual project repository:

git clone
cd libplist

Now you can build and install it:

sudo make install


Then simply run:

plistutil -i foobar.plist -o output.plist

This converts the foobar.plist file to the opposite format, e.g. binary to XML or vice versa, and outputs it to the output.plist file.

To convert to a specific format - and also to convert from JSON or OpenStep format - use the -f command line switch:

plistutil -i input.plist -f json

This will convert input.plist, regardless of the input format, to JSON. The code auto-detects the input format and parses it accordingly.

Please consult the usage information or manual page for a full documentation of available command line options:

plistutil --help
man plistutil


We welcome contributions from anyone and are grateful for every pull request!

If you'd like to contribute, please fork the master branch, change, commit and send a pull request for review. Once approved it can be merged into the main code base.

If you plan to contribute larger changes or a major refactoring, please create a ticket first to discuss the idea upfront to ensure less effort for everyone.

Please make sure your contribution adheres to:

  • Try to follow the code style of the project
  • Commit messages should describe the change well without being too short
  • Try to split larger changes into individual commits of a common domain
  • Use your real name and a valid email address for your commits

We are still working on the guidelines so bear with us!



This project is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1, also included in the repository in the COPYING file.


Apple, iPhone, iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Mac, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS are trademarks of Apple Inc.

This project is an independent software library and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc.

README Updated on: 2023-01-08