Mac Fixes

How to Repair Disk Permissions on Mac

Imagine opening your files on your Mac only to find that they’ve been tampered with or altered. You’d definitely feel violated, and rightfully so.


Before we begin


There are many things you can compromise in life, but your privacy isn’t one of them. MacKeeper is a comprehensive solution to protecting your Mac’s security by removing threats like malware, viruses, Trojans, worms, and others that could be detrimental to your Mac’s safety.


This article will show you how to repair disk permissions on your Mac. Let’s get started.  

What Are Disk Permissions?

Disk permissions are a set of settings that help keep the files on your Mac secure. All the files and folders on your Mac come with permissions.


Permissions are an integral part of your Mac’s operating system’s functionality. They ensure that no one and no programs can interact with or modify your system files without your permission (hence the word “permissions”) unless you give another user on your Mac free rein to do so.  


Most files on Mac OS X are installed as package files. That’s why you often see the extension “.pkg” after the file name.  


When files are installed from package files, a "Bill of Materials" file (you’ll recognize them by the extension ".bom" in the file name) is stored in the package's receipt file in /Library/Receipts/ in Mac OS X v10.5 and earlier.


These files contain two things:

  1. A list of the files installed by that package
  2. The permissions for each file

Unlike other files, these file types don't occupy too much disk space, so there’s no need to move them to the Trash folder.  


Keeping your files secure is one thing. Consider securing your entire Mac, including everything on it.

How to Repair Home Directory Permissions

Repairing disk permissions is slightly different on newer software, like macOS El Capitan, Big Sur, and Monterey, compared to older ones.  


Follow the steps below to repair disk permissions for macOS El Capitan.

Via Disk Utility (macOS 10.11 El Capitan or later)

  1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility
  2. Select the disk on the left for which you want to repair permissions and click on First Aid > Run to start the process
How to Repair Home Directory Permissions Via Disk Utility

3. Now click on Repair Disk, Verify Disk, or the applicable option to continue

If your Mac doesn’t respond to your input, don’t worry, that’s completely normal. It should take a few minutes.

Via Disk Utility in Recovery Mode (macOS El Capitan or later)

In some cases, you might have to access Disk Utility via Recovery Mode. To get started, reboot your system by clicking on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen. Quickly press and hold the Command and R keys while that happens.  

How to Repair Home Directory Permissions Via Disk Utility in recovery mode

Go to Disk Utility and repeat the process outlined above.


When the process is complete, you’ll be shown a report of everything the First Aid process was able to do. It will inform you of any issues found.

Via Terminal (macOS Big Sur, Monterey, or later)

  1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal
  2. Type the command “sudo diskutil resetUserPermissions / 'id -u'”
How to Repair Home Directory Permissions Via Disk Utility via terminal

3. Enter your Mac’s admin password if prompted to do so


4. If you get the error code "Error -69841", enter these two commands: “chflags -R nouchg” and “sudo diskutil resetUserPermissions / 'id -u'”.

Via Terminal in Recovery Mode (macOS Big Sur, Monterey, or later)

  1. Start your device in Recovery Mode by going to the Apple logo > Restart and pressing the Command and R keys while your Mac restarts
  2. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal
  3. Enter the command “repairHomePermissions” and hit the Enter key
How to Repair Home Directory Permissions Via Disk Utility via terminal in recovery mode

4. Enter your user account details if prompted to do so. Otherwise, close the Terminal and click reinstall macOS in Recovery Mode’s main window.

What Does Repairing Disk Permissions Do?

As with all technology, disk permissions can get messed up, which can affect their ability to protect your files from being tampered with.


This can give apps and programs the freedom to alter read-only files, which can lead to permission and system issues like lagging, freezing, and crashing.


Resetting disk permissions on Mac returns the home folder’s permissions to their natural state, enabling them to do their job again. It’s like restoring your disk permissions to factory settings.


That’s why you should troubleshoot disk permissions if your Mac’s system starts showing the symptoms mentioned above.

What Causes Corrupt File and Folder Permissions on macOS?

Anything can affect file and folder permissions on macOS, especially on older versions of macOS. A common culprit is installing and removing apps.


This results in incorrect permissions, and the implications are slightly different.

  • On older macOS systems, apps and programs are denied access to important files. This results in them crashing or not working as they should
  • On modern macOS systems, home folder permissions are locked and become difficult to access and change

When Should You Repair Permissions?

You should only repair permissions if you suspect they’re erroneous, especially if you often download apps and software to your Mac.


That’s because apps and installers that aren’t properly optimized for macOS are the common culprits of malicious software disk permission issues.  


When it comes to downloading apps, programs, and software to your Mac, always proceed with caution—especially if they come with traditional installation wizards.


Just like you wouldn’t intentionally eat foods that could compromise your health, you shouldn’t download anything that could compromise your Mac’s health, either.


While on that, don’t forget to update your Mac operating system and installed apps to keep everything working optimally.

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