How To: Repair User Permissions in Mac OS X Lion

By Richard Mallion

One issue with Mac OS X that pops up every now and again are incorrect permissions. For various reasons permissions on folders, files or applications can get set incorrectly causing random problems from applications quitting to not being able to save your files.

The Disk Utility application, which can be found in your utilities folder, has a repair permissions option. This is useful for repairing system wide and application permission problems.

However an area it will not repair are incorrect permissions in your home folder. In Lion, there is an additional Repair Permissions application utility hidden away. This tool is located inside boot Repair Utilities. Here’s how to access it.

  1. Restart Lion and hold down the Command and R keys. This boots your Mac to the recovery partition Lion installed.
  2. You will boot into the Repair Utilities screen. On top, in the Menu Bar click the Utilities item then select Terminal.
  3. In the Terminal window, type resetpassword and hit Return.
  4. The Password reset utility launches, but you’re not going to reset the password. Instead, click on the icon for your Mac’s hard drive at the top. From the drop-down below it, select the user account where you are having issues.
  5. At the bottom of the window, you’ll see an area labeled ‘Reset Home Directory Permissions and ACLs’. Click the Reset button there.

The reset process takes a couple of minutes. When it’s done, quit the programs you’ve opened and restart your Mac.

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