How to Set File Permissions on Mac

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MacOS uses permissions to restrict access to applications, files, and folders. Using this security control can help protect your data from unauthorized access. Whether you use your Mac in public places or share it with others, you should change the permissions on your documents to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of your data.

Of course, it can be difficult to balance convenience and security when using permissions. Users who are too restricted cannot perform basic tasks. And if you give users too much power, you risk privilege escalation or worse. Make trial and error to find an appropriate level of security that everyone can live with.

Permission settings determine who can view and edit files on the computer. You change the permission settings at the bottom of the information window for a file, folder, or disk in the Finder. For example, you can change the permission settings for a folder so that other people who connect to your Mac or file share can see, but not edit, the files in a folder.

To Change File Permissions on your Mac

This is the easiest way to view or adjust file permissions in Mac OS X. It works with everything in the Finder file system, whether it’s a file, binary, application, or folder. Here’s what you should do:

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  • Select in the Finder the file or application for which you want to change permissions
  • Press Command+i to get “information” about the selected file (or go to File > Get Info)
  • At the bottom of the “Get Info” window, you will see “Sharing & Permissions”, select the arrow to choose the options
  • Adjust permissions* for each user, the options being Read and write, read only or no access

Note that some files, applications and folders may require you to click on the small padlock in the corner of the “Get Info” window. To do this, you must log in so that the administrator can grant permission access for the selected item.

When you are finished, simply close the “Get Info” window. Permission changes are immediate when you select items from the permission options drop-down menus.

How to Batch Change File Permissions in Mac

You can even make batch changes to file permissions. This can save you a lot of time because you don’t have to select files one by one to determine who can access or view them. You can change permissions for files in the same folder or for all files in the same drive. And here’s how it works:

  • Select the drive or folder containing the files, and then click Get Info. If you don’t see the Sharing and Permissions option, click the triangle to make it visible.
  • Click the padlock icon, and then enter your username and password. (You need a password to access your Mac, don’t you?)
  • Click the username or group name you want to grant, change, or deny permissions to.
  • In the pop-up window, select the level of permission you want to give this user or group.
  • Click the gear icon, and then click Apply to Attachments. Note that if you select “No access” at the permission level, this person or group will no longer be able to add anything to a folder or see any items in the folder.

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