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How to Change Open Files Limit on OS X and macOS Sierra (10.8 - 10.12)

How to Change Open Files Limit on OS X and macOS

This text is the section about OS X Yosemite (which also works for macOS Sierra) from https://docs.basho.com/riak/kv/2.1.4/using/performance/open-files-limit/#mac-os-x

The last time i visited this link it was dead (403), so I cloned it here from the latest snapshot in Archive.org's Wayback Machine https://web.archive.org/web/20170523131633/https://docs.basho.com/riak/kv/2.1.4/using/performance/open-files-limit/

Mac OS X

To check the current limits on your Mac OS X system, run:

launchctl limit maxfiles

The last two columns are the soft and hard limits, respectively.

Adjusting Open File Limits in Yosemite

To adjust open files limits on a system-wide basis in Mac OS X Yosemite, you must create two configuration files. The first is a property list (aka plist) file in /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxfiles.plist that contains the following XML configuration:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
  <plist version="1.0">
    <dict>
      <key>Label</key>
        <string>limit.maxfiles</string>
      <key>ProgramArguments</key>
        <array>
          <string>launchctl</string>
          <string>limit</string>
          <string>maxfiles</string>
          <string>200000</string>
          <string>200000</string>
        </array>
      <key>RunAtLoad</key>
        <true/>
      <key>ServiceIPC</key>
        <false/>
    </dict>
  </plist>

This will set the open files limit to 200000. The second plist configuration file should be stored in /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxproc.plist with the following contents:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple/DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
  <plist version="1.0">
    <dict>
      <key>Label</key>
        <string>limit.maxproc</string>
      <key>ProgramArguments</key>
        <array>
          <string>launchctl</string>
          <string>limit</string>
          <string>maxproc</string>
          <string>2048</string>
          <string>2048</string>
        </array>
      <key>RunAtLoad</key>
        <true />
      <key>ServiceIPC</key>
        <false />
    </dict>
  </plist>

Both plist files must be owned by root:wheel and have permissions -rw-r--r--. This permissions should be in place by default, but you can ensure that they are in place by running sudo chmod 644 . While the steps explained above will cause system-wide open file limits to be correctly set upon restart, you can apply them manually by running launchctl limit.

In addition to setting these limits at the system level, we recommend setting the at the session level as well by appending the following lines to your bashrc, bashprofile, or analogous file:

ulimit -n 200000
ulimit -u 2048

Like the plist files, your bashrc or similar file should have -rw-r--r-- permissions. At this point, you can restart your computer and enter ulimit -n into your terminal. If your system is configured correctly, you should see that maxfiles has been set to 200000.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
<key>Label</key>
<string>limit.maxfiles</string>
<key>ProgramArguments</key>
<array>
<string>launchctl</string>
<string>limit</string>
<string>maxfiles</string>
<string>524288</string>
<string>524288</string>
</array>
<key>RunAtLoad</key>
<true/>
<key>ServiceIPC</key>
<false/>
</dict>
</plist>
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
<key>Label</key>
<string>limit.maxproc</string>
<key>ProgramArguments</key>
<array>
<string>launchctl</string>
<string>limit</string>
<string>maxproc</string>
<string>2048</string>
<string>2048</string>
</array>
<key>RunAtLoad</key>
<true/>
<key>ServiceIPC</key>
<false/>
</dict>
</plist>
#!/bin/sh
# These are the original gist links, linking to my gists now.
# curl -O https://gist.githubusercontent.com/a2ikm/761c2ab02b7b3935679e55af5d81786a/raw/ab644cb92f216c019a2f032bbf25e258b01d87f9/limit.maxfiles.plist
# curl -O https://gist.githubusercontent.com/a2ikm/761c2ab02b7b3935679e55af5d81786a/raw/ab644cb92f216c019a2f032bbf25e258b01d87f9/limit.maxproc.plist
curl -O https://gist.githubusercontent.com/tombigel/d503800a282fcadbee14b537735d202c/raw/ed73cacf82906fdde59976a0c8248cce8b44f906/limit.maxfiles.plist
curl -O https://gist.githubusercontent.com/tombigel/d503800a282fcadbee14b537735d202c/raw/ed73cacf82906fdde59976a0c8248cce8b44f906/limit.maxproc.plist
sudo mv limit.maxfiles.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons
sudo mv limit.maxproc.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons
sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxfiles.plist
sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxproc.plist
sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxfiles.plist
sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxproc.plist
@devinrhode2

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commented Dec 22, 2017

@devinrhode2

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commented Dec 22, 2017

However... this answer on SuperUser.com claims that this process of adding a file to Library/LaunchDaemons you describe here is now the way you need to update the file limit for Sierra https://superuser.com/a/1171026/88226

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commented Dec 28, 2017

@safareli

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commented Jun 20, 2018

YOU SHOULD RESTART YOUR COMPUTER FOR THIS TO WORK

@jiapengjun

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commented Aug 3, 2018

The plist way works well on macOS 10.13.6.
The bashrc/bashprofile way doesn't work even restarting host. "-bash: ulimit: open files: cannot modify limit: Invalid argument" is reported.

@nhelfer

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commented Aug 8, 2018

If you don't want to restart your computer, you can launch theses commands :
sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxfiles.plist sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxproc.plist

@mjruschak

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commented Aug 22, 2018

This is great and very helpful. Has anyone been able to get the maxproc limit to stick? I cannot get this one to work but the maxfiles works fine.

@metacritical

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commented Oct 10, 2018

Does this work on OSX Mojave?

@centaur1

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commented Nov 6, 2018

Has anyone tried this on Mojave yet? (to echo @metacritical)

@Larzack

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commented Nov 11, 2018

Works

@Larzack

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commented Nov 29, 2018

Can't have more than 2048 in maxproc

@wangbourne

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commented Jan 30, 2019

It works unde Mojave @centaur1

@gautiermichelin

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commented Apr 30, 2019

@nhelfer : I used your comment thanks.
Note : add "&&" between the 2 instructions sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxfiles.plist && sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxproc.plist

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