Permission issue with "Keyboard Maestro Macros.plist"

I recently got a 2018 Mac mini to replace my late 2012 Mac mini. After installing KM8 I copied over the ~/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro folder from the previous install replacing the same folder created by KM*. When I started KM 8 for the first time a window popped up with the message, "Keyboard Maestro failed to write the preferences file. You don't have permission to save the file "Keyboard Maestro Macros.plist" in the folder "Keyboard Maestro".

I launched Finder and according to it I do have permission to read and write to the file as well as the folder that contains it. I quit and restarted KM 8 and am continuing to receive this message. Interestingly I can execute one macro I use daily and it works. Can someone advise me about correcting this issue.

If your Mac user name is different on your new Mac, it could be an ownership issue.
I ran into this recently when I migrated my apps from an old Mac.

Quit both the KM Editor app and the KM Engine.
Select the Keyboard Maestro folder, and get info. The reset both permissions and ownership to it an all of its subfolders/items:

This won't hurt anything even if your user name did not change.


Thank you very much JMichaelTX from a displaced Texan. I followed your suggestion but luck of the Irish it did not work in my situation. What an interesting coincidence that my little brother living in Rockwall, TX is J(effrey) Michael.

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Sorry that it did not work for you @BruceL. It was a bit of a shot-in-the-dark.

Here's another idea. Try restarting your Mac in Safe mode, then start KM and test to see if the problem persists. If it does not, then something other than KM is causing the issue.

Always good to hear from fellow Texans!

The ownership and permissions on the entire folder must be correct.

Make sure you are setting the ownership and permissions of both the folder, and all its contents, including subfolders and files.

I'm afraid I would use the Terminal for such an action, so I'm not sure what the Finder does when it comes to ownerships and permissions.

In the Terminals do:

ls -ld ~
ls -lR ~/'Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro'

The first will confirm your username, and should start something like this:

drwxr-xr-x+ 85 peter  staff

Ignore the number, the important thing is the username, and that the first four characters are drwx (directory, read, write, execute (which for directories means enterable).

Every entry in the folder should have the same username, and should start with either “drwx” (directory) or “-rw-” (file) (plug in actions might be “-rwx”.

Thank you Peter. I really enjoy working in the terminal when I can. Looks like my permissions are good. Here is the output:

Last login: Wed Jun 26 07:09:45 on console
Bruces-Mac-mini:~ bruce$ ls -ld ~
drwxr-xr-x+ 18 bruce staff 576 Jun 26 07:09 /Users/bruce
Bruces-Mac-mini:~ bruce$ ls -lR ~/'Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro'
total 1440
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28672 Sep 20 2017 Keyboard Maestro By Name Sort Order.sqlite
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 159744 Oct 25 2018 Keyboard Maestro Cached Compiled Scripts.sqlite
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 2065 Sep 20 2017 Keyboard Maestro Clipboards.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 20480 Sep 20 2017 Keyboard Maestro Dictionaries.sqlite
drwxr-xr-x@ 3 bruce staff 96 Mar 25 2016 Keyboard Maestro Libraries
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 2148 Jun 18 09:39 Keyboard Maestro Macro Stats.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28294 Sep 20 2017 Keyboard Maestro Macros Saved Version 7.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28218 Mar 21 12:39 Keyboard Maestro Macros.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 20767 Jun 17 22:22 Keyboard Maestro Recent Applications.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 933 Jul 18 2017 Keyboard Maestro Variables Saved Version 7.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 20480 Mar 8 2018 Keyboard Maestro Variables.sqlite
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 411472 Dec 30 21:33 Quick Macros.plist
drwxr-xr-x@ 11 bruce staff 352 Aug 19 2017 Revisions Version 7
drwxr-xr-x@ 11 bruce staff 352 Mar 21 12:37 Revisions Version 8
drwxr-xr-x@ 3 bruce staff 96 Jun 18 07:07 Running Engine Details
drwxr-xr-x@ 4 bruce staff 128 Jun 18 2016 Status Menu Icons

/Users/bruce/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro/Keyboard Maestro Libraries:
total 8
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 3272 Mar 25 2016 Mail macros.kmlibrary

/Users/bruce/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro/Revisions Version 7:
total 464
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 4284 Mar 21 2016 0000_01_01.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 27196 May 20 2017 2017_05_09.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 27425 May 29 2017 2017_05_20.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 27425 Jun 4 2017 2017_05_29.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 27425 Jun 16 2017 2017_06_04.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 27857 Jun 17 2017 2017_06_16.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 27861 Jul 16 2017 2017_06_17.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28169 Aug 19 2017 2017_07_16.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28169 Aug 19 2017 9999_01_01.plist

/Users/bruce/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro/Revisions Version 8:
total 504
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28307 Sep 20 2017 0000_01_01.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28309 Nov 14 2017 2017_11_10.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28309 Jan 12 2018 2017_11_14.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28309 Jan 27 2018 2018_01_12.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28169 Jan 29 2018 2018_01_27.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28273 Feb 3 2018 2018_01_29.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28273 Feb 12 2018 2018_02_03.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28273 Feb 16 2018 2018_02_12.plist
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 28218 Mar 21 12:37 9999_01_01.plist

/Users/bruce/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro/Running Engine Details:
total 8
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 16 Jun 18 07:07 383

/Users/bruce/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro/Status Menu Icons:
total 0
drwxr-xr-x@ 10 bruce staff 320 Jun 18 2016 Classic
drwxr-xr-x@ 8 bruce staff 256 Mar 21 2016 Iconaholic

/Users/bruce/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro/Status Menu Icons/Classic:
total 120
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 10420 Nov 25 2012 StatusItem.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 7090 Nov 26 2012 StatusItem1.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 7064 Nov 25 2012 StatusItem2.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 7062 Nov 26 2012 StatusItem3.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 7216 Nov 25 2012 StatusItem4.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 7062 Nov 26 2012 StatusItem5.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 7064 Nov 25 2012 StatusItem6.tiff

/Users/bruce/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro/Status Menu Icons/Iconaholic:
total 40
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 2366 Apr 21 2013 StatusItem1Template.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 2344 Apr 21 2013 StatusItem2Template.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 2330 Apr 21 2013 StatusItem3Template.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 2348 Apr 21 2013 StatusItem4Template.tiff
-rw-r--r--@ 1 bruce staff 1302 Apr 21 2013 StatusItemTemplate.tiff
Bruces-Mac-mini:~ bruce$

My primary macro is working but when I start Keyboard Maestro I am still getting this popup:


Peter I have an idea. I mentioned that I have done an install to a new 2018 Mac mini which has the T2 chip. Attached to this Mac mini is an OWC dual bay drive dock. The first slot is my Time Machine backup. In the 2nd slot there is a 6 GB hard disk with five partitions which included a Carbon Copy Cloner clone, a Super Duper! clone and some of my previous Time Machine backups, as I could not get Time Machine to inherit the old backups. When I was updating 1Password this morning it 'saw' two versions of itself. One was on the partition containing the aforementioned Time Machine backups as compared to the running Time Machine backup.

So my thought was that if 1Password 'saw' what appeared to be two legitimate installs could KM have been 'confused' when I installed it? I also had similar issues when doing this install to my new Mac mini. If so would it be beneficial to try an uninstall and re-install with all attached?

I FOUND THE ANSWER! Somehow when I installed OmniOutline set itself as the program to open all the .plist files, at least for Keyboard Maestro. Thank you JMichaelTX. I went back to check permissions and noticed that Open With: was set to OmniOutliner instead of TextEdit. So I uninstalled both programs. Reinstalled KM .plist file set to open with TextEdit. Reinstalled OO and sure enough it set itself to open the Keyboard Maestro Macros.plist.

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Also check:

ls -ld ~/'Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro'

which would be the permissions of the folder itself which may well be the issue.

Failing that, do this:

  • Launch Keyboard Maestro
  • File ➤ Quick Engine
  • Quit Keyboard Maestro
  • Move the ~/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro folder to your desktop (make sure it moves, not copies, which it could do if the permissions are incorrect).
  • Launch Keyboard Maestro. It will create a new folder, with new permissions. Make a change to the default macros (rename one), quit and relaunch Keyboard Maestro and verify the change has stuck.
  • File ➤ Quick Engine
  • Quit Keyboard Maestro
  • Open the newly created ~/Library/Application Support/Keyboard Maestro folder, trash the contents.
  • Copy the contents of the Keyboard Maestro folder on your desktop to the newly created, newly emptied Keyboard Maestro folder.
  • Launch Keyboard Maestro. Make a change to the default macros (rename one), quit and relaunch Keyboard Maestro and verify the change has stuck.

Make a backup copy of the original Keyboard Maestro folder (I suggest control click on it and Compress it), to ensure it is safe while you mess around.

Thank you Peter. I failed to leave a complete reply. What I did that resolved the issue was to change Open With: to TextEdit using the Finder. Then copy over file Keyboard Maestro in ~\Library\Application Support\Keyboard Maestro Macros.plist and the Preference files starting with com.stairways from my Time Machine backup of my previous Mac mini. These seem to have completely resolved the issue and Keyboard Maestro is running like fine 12-cylinder race car.

I also think that some of my reinstall issues were caused by the aforementioned OWC dual bay drive dock which contained a Time Machine backup, a Carbon Copy Cloner clone and a Super Duper clone being attached via USB. I forgot that I experienced similar issues in the past when doing installs with attached clones and/or Time Machine backups.