CFPropertyList provides functions that convert property list objects to and from several serialized formats such as XML. The CFPropertyListRef type that denotes CFPropertyList objects is an abstract type for property list objects. Depending on the contents of the XML data used to create the property list, CFPropertyListRef can be any of the property list objects: CFData, CFString, CFArray, CFDictionary, CFDate, CFBoolean, and CFNumber. Note that if you use a property list to generate XML, the keys of any dictionaries in the property list must be CFString objects.

It is important to understand that CFPropertyList provides an abstraction for all the property list types—you can think of CFPropertyList in object-oriented terms as being the superclass of CFString, CFNumber, CFDictionary, and so on. When a Core Foundation function returns a CFPropertyListRef, it means that the value may be any of the property list types. For example, CFPreferencesCopyAppValue returns a CFPropertyListRef. This means that the value returned can be a CFString object, a CFNumber object, a CFDictionary object, and so on again. You can use CFGetTypeID to determine what type of object a property list value is.

You use one of the CFPropertyListCreate... functions to create a property list object given an existing property list object, raw XML data (as in a file), or a stream. You can also convert a property list object to XML using the CFPropertyListCreateXMLData function. You use the CFPropertyListWriteToStream function to write a property list to an output stream, and validate a property list object using the CFPropertyListIsValid function. CFPropertyList properly takes care of endian issues—a property list (whether represented by a stream, XML, or a CFData object) created on a PowerPC-based Macintosh is correctly interpreted on an Intel-based Macintosh, and vice versa.

For code examples illustrating how to read and write property list files, see Property List Programming Topics for Core Foundation and in particular Saving and Restoring Property Lists.


Creating a Property List


Creates a property list from a given CFData object.


Create and return a property list with a CFReadStream input.


Recursively creates a copy of a given property list.


Creates a property list using the specified XML or binary property list data.


Creates a property list using data from a stream.


Exporting a Property List


Returns a CFData object containing a serialized representation of a given property list in a specified format.


Write the bytes of a serialized property list out to a stream.


Creates an XML representation of the specified property list.


Writes the bytes of a property list serialization out to a stream.


Validating a Property List


Determines if a property list is valid.

Data Types


A reference to a CFPropertyList object.


Type for flags that determine the degree of mutability of newly created property lists.



Specifies the format of a property list.

Property List Mutability Options

Option flags that determine the degree of mutability of newly created property lists.

Reading and Writing Error Codes

Error codes for property list reading and writing functions such as CFPropertyListCreateWithData.

See Also

Opaque Types


The CFFileDescriptor provides an opaque type to monitor file descriptors for read and write activity via CFRunLoop.


CFStringTokenizer allows you to tokenize strings into words, sentences or paragraphs in a language-neutral way. It supports languages such as Japanese and Chinese that do not delimit words by spaces, as well as de-compounding German compounds. You can obtain Latin transcription for tokens. It also provides language identification API.