How to Repair User Permissions in Mac OS X
In modern versions of Mac OS X, repairing permissions from the Disk Utility app doesn’t repair the users file permissions, oddly this has to be done separately on a per-user basis. If you’re running into problems with Spotlight not finding documents or folders, or if you’re having other issues that can usually be fixed with a permissions repair, this can often resolve those problems.
This method works in OS X Yosemite, OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion. This is a great tip from a Mac Genius that one of our readers sent in, it’s well written so we’ll just publish the entire thing verbatim:
Repairing User Permissions in OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, etc
You’ll need to reboot to perform this, and then use the same resetpassword utility that is used to change passwords in OS X, but instead choosing a hidden option.
When you use the Disk Utility app and Repair Permissions — it doesn’t actually repair the permission settings on folders and files in your Home folder where your documents and personal applications reside.
In the newest versions of OS X, there is an additional Repair Permissions application utility hidden away. This tool is located inside boot Repair Utilities. Here’s how to access it.
- Restart OS X and hold down the Command and R keys.
- You will boot into the Repair Utilities screen. On top, in the Menu Bar click the Utilities item then select Terminal.
- In the Terminal window, type “resetpassword” (without the quotes) and hit Return.
- 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.
- 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. Notice that ‘Spotlight’ starts re-indexing immediately.
Great tip, thanks for sending this in Tony R!
Update: This works in OS X 10.7 Lion, and 10.8 Mountain Lion, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, OS X 10.10 Yosemite, and newer.