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Technote R6939: AutoConnect & AutoOpen Preference Interaction

Helix has 4 user editable preferences that give the user the ability to control how Helix opens collections (or connects to Servers, in the case of Helix Client). This technote explains these settings and how they interact with each other.

For instructions on editing Helix preferences (along with a complete list of editable preferences) see this FAQ page.

The Preferences, An Overview

The four preference settings, are:

PreferenceDefaultDatatypeLegal Values Description
HxAutoOpenURINone-stringURI The path to a collection or structure file to automatically open when the Helix application is launched.

Note: Prefix path with file:///

HxAutoConnectToURINone-stringhostname or IP Address The address of a Helix Server to which Helix Client will attempt a transparent connection when the application is launched.
HxAutoConnectUsernameNone-stringname of a user icon in the collection Default value for the User Authentication dialog, or transparent authentication when a collection is opened (or connected to for Helix Client).
HxAutoConnectPasswordNone-string A password to use in conjunction with the HxAutoConnectUsername to for transparent authentication.
Preference Priority

HxAutoOpenURI is checked first. If this preference setting contains a path to a collection (or structure in the case of Helix Client) file, that file is opened. It is important to note that this path must be specified in URI format. That is, it must begin with file://, followed by the path to the file. The path can be specified as a local path, e.g: /Users/fred/Documents/my_database or as a network path, e.g: /Volumes/Other Disk/Files/my_database. (Note that because a file path always begins with a / character, a complete URI begins with three forward slashes: file:///.)

Helix Client only: If there is no HxAutoOpenURI preference specified (or it does not resolve), Helix Client next checks for an HxAutoConnectToURI setting. This preference can be in hostname form ( or a literal IP Address. Helix Client attempts to Connect to the specified Server just as if the user had chosen Connect from the File menu and typed in the information.

Once a collection has been opened (or connected to) Helix checks the HxAutoConnectUsername preference. If one is found, that text is used as the default name in the User Authentication dialog box.

Finally, the HxAutoConnectPassword preference is read. If a value is found here, it is used along with the HxAutoConnectUsername value to attempt a transparent authentication. If the username/password combination is rejected, an error dialog is presented.

Additional HxAutoOpenURI Notes

The HxAutoOpenURI string must start with file:/// or it is assumed to be an DNS name or IP address, and a new connection is attempted.

If the HxAutoOpenURI string starts with file:/// and the file is not found, an error dialog appears. This is also true when you select a missing file from the Open Recent menu.

The HxAutoOpenURI string is interpreted as a literal path (not an alias) so the file must be found on that exact path.

Temporary Bypass

HxAutoOpenURI & HxAutoConnectToURI can be bypassed by holding the shift key down while Helix launches. There is currently no bypass for HxAutoConnectUser.

Password Storage Warning

These preferences are stored in a standard macOS plist file in your user's Preferences folder. If an HxAutoConnectPassword is stored, it is stored in plain text, creating a potential security risk.