Recovering Lost Site Definitions

by James Cook on July 6, 2009

More Dreamweaver Recovery Tips: Recover Dreamweaver Template | Recover Dreamweaver Passwords

Updated: Dreamweaver CS5 and Windows Site Definition Recovery info added.

My iMac recently froze up and, when I – eventually – recovered from the forced shut down and restart, I discovered my Dreamweaver preferences had been reset to the default settings and, even worse,


I have my site definitions backed up (most of them anyway) but the option of importing them one by one didn’t really appeal to me. Besides, I have Time Machine installed so I reasoned that, if I could figured out where Dreamweaver stores its site definitions, I could restore them all from the backup.

Well, it took a bit of research but I was able to make it work. Should you wind up in the same situation, here’s how to do it.

Sorry but these instructions are Mac OS X and Dreamweaver CS3, CS4 or CS5 only for info on how to recover site definitions on a PC see Recovering Dreamweaver Site Definitions on Windows

Dreamweaver CS5.5 Mac stores site definitions in the file:

Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:11.5:Sites:Site Prefs

Dreamweaver CS5 Mac stores site definitions in the file:

Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:11:Sites:Site Prefs

Dreamweaver CS4 Mac stores site definitions in the file:

Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:10:Sites:Site Prefs

For CS3 the file is: Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:9:Sites:Site Prefs

Substitute your user name for <username> and, if you have renamed your computer’s hard drive, sub your drive’s name for Macintosh HD. The colons separate folder names.

Using Time Machine, restoring the site definitions was a simple matter of selecting the file, activating Time Machine, scrolling back a day or two and selecting Restore to replace the current (empty) Site Prefs file with the previous version.

Note: Make sure that you have Dreamweaver closed when you restore the Site Prefs file or the restored file will end up empty as well.

As I said, I also lost my customizations to Dreamweaver’s preferences. I was able to restore them in the same way. Dreamweaver’s preference settings are stored in the file:

Macintosh HD:Users:<username>:Library:Preferences:Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 Prefs

Of course, it’s Dreamweaver CS3 Prefs for users of Dreamweaver CS3.

If you don’t have Time Machine installed, you can also replace the Site Prefs and Dreamweaver CS4 Prefs files using a recent back up (you do have a recent back up don’t you?).

And, if you haven’t found yourself in this situation, be thankful and consider making a backup of your Site Prefs and Dreamweaver CS4 Prefs files and storing them somewhere handy.

As always, feel free to email me with your questions, comments and suggestions. And please follow me on Twitter (DWcourse) for additional Dreamweaver news and tips.

WKG December 9, 2015 at 6:56 am

Thanks so much. You saved my bacon!

I copied the Site Perfs file from my SuperDuper! backup into my Macintosh HD tree and the sun came out from behind the clouds. I’m going to save an additional copy of this file as an emergency backup with instructions on how to restore it. I haven’t had to do this lately, but DW has failed in this manner in the past, and I suspect will again. It’s not such a scary prospect, now. Thanks again.

Here’s an update (though someone else may have already commented on this.)
Dreamweaver CS6 Mac stores site definitions in the file:
Macintosh HD:Users::Library:Application Support:Adobe:Common:12.0:Sites:Site Prefs

Raa July 9, 2014 at 9:43 am

Thanks very much – this worked perfectly for Dreamweaver CC!

wendy May 1, 2013 at 7:31 am

THANK YOU!!! I knew there had to be a way to recover them with TimeMachine, but I didn’t know where the Site Prefs were stored. Much appreciated post.

jen March 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm

OMG!!! You just saved my butt!!!! NO WAY I am sooooo Happy that fixed it!!!! WAY COOL thanks you for posting this fix!!! you are so GREAT!!!!

Thank you thank you thank you …. over and over!!!

Bruce Campbell March 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

This solution still works in 2013! This was a life-saver. Many thanks.

Sylvia March 14, 2013 at 8:50 am

Thank you. Worked like a charm.

Greg Gillespie January 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Hi John,

Thanks a bunch, you would think that Adobe would have some up to date help on this, but no.

You are a champ and now my sites are back!

Way to many to lose and rebuild manually. Another case of Time Machine to the rescue, they got that one right.


Greg Gillepsie

Miguel Ángel November 22, 2012 at 7:24 am

Gracias por el apunte ¡me ha servido estupendamente y funciona perfecto!

Rob October 4, 2012 at 12:52 am

Thank you sooo much! Your solution saved me hours of recovery from backups.

Niels R June 3, 2012 at 3:39 am

As others have said, many thanks, a real life-saver.

One point which may make finding the ‘Site Prefs’ file in Finder easier/quicker…

I found when searching for that file nothing came up in the results box. If you then click the ‘+’ icon and in the two new drop-down boxes available choose ‘System files’ and then ‘include’, ‘Site Prefs’ is then found instantly.



Lily Henson April 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Thank you! You just saved me a lot of time!

Steven March 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Well, that saved the day. Thanks a lot.

BaldBrain November 30, 2011 at 7:40 am

Thanks! I had the exact same experience, and your solution saved me so much time!

Nick August 19, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Updated from cs4 to cs5.5. If I didn’t save a .ste of my site is there any way to recover anything?

dwcourse August 20, 2011 at 8:33 am

When you upgraded, CS5.5 should have picked up your site definitions but all may not be lost. The easiest solution would be if you still have CS4 available. In that case you can simply export the definitions from CS4 and import them into CS5.5. If that’s not an option, the CS4 site definitions should still be stored in the Site Prefs file for CS4 (…Common:10:Sites:Site Prefs on a Mac). Locate it and move it to the …Common:11.5:Sites folder and see if that restores you definitions. BTW, make sure Dreamweaver is not running when you try this and back up the existing Site Prefs before replacing it.

Morgan McConnell June 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

hey. i reinstalled the site prefs into cs5.5 that i restored from dreamweaver cs4 via time machine, and though they came across fine, none of the ftp username or passwords came through. is there a way to recover that info either from the site prefs file or another file? i’m kinda stuck here.

jcook June 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm

CS5.5 should have picked up your site prefs from CS4. But, if it didn’t and you still have CS4 installed you should be able to export your site definitions and import them to CS5.5. To export all your site definitions at once:

1. Open menu: Site>Manage Sites…
2. Select all of your sites by commmand or shift+clicking
3. Click Export (be sure to include logins and passwords)

The sites will be saved to a .ste file. You can import them into CS5.5 through the Manage Sites dialog.

Morgan McConnell June 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm

thanks for the reply. i uninstalled cs4 when i installed cs5.5, though all the files exist on time machine. far as i know though, i can’t run an application from time machine so i’m unable to recreate a new site definition file for all my sites. i cant believe that the actual passwords aren’t stored somewhere other than a file that has to be actively created by the user…

jcook June 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm

As I said CS5.5 should have iimported the definitions without any action on your part and they should have been available when you opened the program. If restored the CS4 site prefs and moved it to the 11.5 folder (CS5.5) and you don’t have the ftp info, I’m at a loss.

My only suggestion (and I don’t hold much hope for it is) go back and grab the CS4 site prefs from a week or so before you updated and make sure you have Dreamweaver closed when you move the file into the 11.5 folder.

Neil May 29, 2011 at 5:19 am

Wow, there I was searching for “restoring dreamweaver site definition files from a time machine backup” thinking I would be spending the next few hours looking up all my ftp details, as surely nothing would show up from the search.

Lo and behold, here I am a few seconds later with all my sites defined. Thank you so much!

fuentestatica May 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

THANK YOU!!!!! Amazing :D

Bryan May 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Wow! Thanks so much! This was a lifesaver!

Weezie March 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Whew! Thanks so much! My stressful day was going to be a lot more stressful. This really helped! Whew again!

Mario March 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm

You saved my nerves :-)

Megan February 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Yes, this is wonderful! Thanks! I’m glad I even thought to Google the bug. :) Work-saver, indeed.

Bill Ray January 10, 2011 at 2:10 pm

You are a lifesaver! Thank you so much. I have about 90 sites in my list and while I back up regularly, having the site defs just go away was quite terrifying!

BrokenEye October 11, 2010 at 8:47 am

How does this translate into Windows 7

jcook October 11, 2010 at 9:17 am

I believe Dreamweaver stores the site definitions in the Windows registries and I don’t have a solution for recovering them. Have you checked the Adobe forums?

Manuel August 18, 2010 at 9:05 am

Thanks a lot for the tip!

I recently installed Dw CS4 that required a full clean-up of previous versions. I thought that Dw left the sites information in the folders where the websites reside. Big surprise!

Luckily, from a back up of Dw’s (v. 8) preferences, I found exactly the file you mentioned (Site Prefs), which I used to replace the one in the CS4’s common folder.

Voila! I got the definitions of all my sites back!

Thanks again!

chris henning August 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Wow! You are a life saver. Thanks for posting this up and being thorough in it. Great job.

Christian Henning, NASM-CPT
Oklahoma City Certified Personal Trainer

Chad Heaton July 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Not that I need to say it, but thank you SO much for posting this. First time I’ve had this issue and I was fortunate to find the solution. Thanks again!


jcook July 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Hey, a thank you is never wasted (of course links are good too!).

Kevin July 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm

You are a life-saver. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Bryce June 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Amazing. MAKE SURE DREAMWEAVER IS NOT OPEN WHEN YOU COPY THE BACKUP TO THE NEW LOCATION!!!!!!!!! THis is what slowed me down. I even copied the entire app support adobe folder from my time machine before reading this. Way to hunt the file down.

Ian April 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

Thanks, found my file and of course it’s empty with no backup, lesson learned. How does this file just randomly corrupt. I did nothing out of the ordinary.

jcook April 26, 2010 at 11:03 am

I wish I knew, it’s happened to me more than once.

Al April 26, 2010 at 3:21 am

I’d just like to thank you for your very helpful, clearly written article. It’s saved me from redefining over 50 sites first thing on a Monday morning!

Bernard Koloski April 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

Thank you so much for this explanation. Your solution worked perfectly.

Bernie Koloski

David Gilmour March 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Thanks! I searched all over to find out how to bring back the sites after DreamWeaver had a Fatal crash and couldn’t find the info, until here. Saved me a lot of time rebuilding them. Weird there’s no mention of this on Adobe’s site or it’s extremely hard to find if it is there.
Awesome thanks!

jcook January 28, 2010 at 8:03 am

Can’t believe I’m back here doing this again!

Jill January 14, 2010 at 4:19 pm

you rock!! saved me totally.

Tim Pritchett December 16, 2009 at 2:24 am

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Great information with easy to follow instructions.

aussieaubs November 1, 2009 at 4:07 am

hi JCOOK-firstly thanks for the awesome article…. just what i needed – the missing puzzle – now for Dreamweaver 8 and how to restore your site locations and site preferences the location of the correct file is:

For DW8 the file is: Macintosh HD:Users::Library:Application Support:Macromedia:Common:8:Sites:Site Prefs

as you can see pretty close to DW9…

ROCKON!! thanks again cookie :)

keri September 26, 2009 at 8:54 am

Thank you so much for the post. I was able to restore my sites, but the FTP login and passwords were not restored. Is there anyway to retrieve this information? I have just moved, rebuilt my computer after a hard drive crash, thankfully have everything backed up… but finding all the user names/passwords will be nearly impossible. Any suggestions? Please help. Thanks again.

jcook September 26, 2009 at 9:01 am

If the ftp info was saved in the definition before, then it should have been recovered. If it wasn’t, I don’t know any other way to retrieve it (except perhaps trying again).

keri September 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

i did try again, but I’ll do it again! Never know when it was just magically work, right? I’ll keep you posted, and thank you again for atleast getting me this far! It is very much appreciated.

jcook September 26, 2009 at 11:11 am

It was just a faint hope. Do make sure that Dreamweaver isn’t open when you restore and, if you have another version of the backup, you could try that (I’m grasping at straws here).

Jeff September 25, 2009 at 6:03 am

Thanks a million! Saved my butt! Can’t believe this info was not easier to find out there.

Jackie September 16, 2009 at 10:17 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was so afraid that I was going to have to rebuild all of that info, and I am so thankful to you for providing this info!

Nic September 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm

worked a treat! thanks saved me a bundle of time

steve September 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Is there any way to recover my lost site definitions if it’s not in Time Machine?

jcook September 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Steve, as far as I can determine, the only way to recover the definitions file is from a backup. It doesn’t have to be a Time Machine backup though.

Neil Cowley August 27, 2009 at 11:52 am

just a big thank-you for helping me save an hour or two of my day!

Danny Schweers August 13, 2009 at 5:45 am

After re-building Mac OS X 10.5 on a new system hard drive, thanks to your advice I was able to restore my 47 website definitions. I have done that before, manually, one at a time. One less pain after 16 hours of work getting my computer running again. Thanks!

Paul Holstein August 6, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Really appreciate this post. I searched everywhere to try and find the location of where DW stored site definitions. Finally from this post I was able to locate it and up back-up site definitions though time machine. Definitely Buggy, though happy I have got my definitions back. Thanks heaps.

Tony July 30, 2009 at 8:10 am

wow, you have saved my life! thanks very much!

Paul Mycroft July 14, 2009 at 9:42 am

Hi John,

Thanks for this article. I mentioned this issue on my Facebook Biz page this morning (and linked to this page) as I do inexplicably lose my Site Definitions from time to time! It’s a major headache which Adobe needs to fix!

Today’s solution (even though I do Export each Definition after I learned my lesson) was to use the Preferences file backed up to my external hard drive (after backing up the corrupt one).

Worked fine but as I say, a MAJOR flaw in DW.

All the best,
Paul Mycroft

p.s. I now follow you on Twitter.

jcook July 14, 2009 at 9:56 am

Paul, I’m glad it worked for you.

I’ve seen the issue reported often enough that I agree Adobe should be looking into it. Although it’s often hard to tell how much blame goes to the program, the OS or something else.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post:

Home | Make Contact