5 Best Ways to Fix Permission Denied on Mac

This article is about how to fix the error message, permission denied, on Mac. If you have encountered the same problem, you've come to the right place. Keep reading and learn more about how to fix permission denied on Mac.

Table of Contents

Mac OS X operating system is Unix-based system for Mac computers. Now Mac runs all types of files and modifies all types of commands from the terminal. When the permission denied Mac error shows, these commands are sent from the terminal. There are many reasons to get these error notifications which are elementary and common. A complete guide has been available on this page to remove permission denied error over this computer. Follow all the steps given below to get access to all files and folders that are inaccessible.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting

1. Restore Inaccessible Files on Mac

Select the disk location (it can be an...Full steps

2. Fix Permission Denied on Mac

Method 1. Gain permission for files...Full steps

Method 2. Check your permissions...Full steps

Method 3. Change the ownership of...Full steps

Method 4. Use sudocommands...Full steps

Method 5. Assign permission for third...Full steps

Error: Permission Denied on Mac

If anyone faces a permission device error, they might see many different types of messages appear on the screen. The error message may be different, but the meaning is the same. Now some examples are given below. Let's check them out one by one.

1. Permission denied for files, folders, or disks on Mac - The most likely reason for the permission denied error is when you want to open a file or folder is locked. It might be because you don't have administrator privileges or the file is created to be locked.

2. Terminal permission denied on Mac - Many things come wrong when adding a command in the terminal. With the help of this error, no other file or the directory mentioned in it is not going to open. 

3. App permission denied - The Don't Allow option is chosen, which is rejected at the time of using a feature related to the Application. There are very common things that deliver permission-denied issues such as an app that couldn't use the camera, or microphone, being unable to save files, can't share your screen with others, and many more.

Bonus Tip: Restore Inaccessible Files on Mac

The first method you can try is to apply third-party data recovery software. The reason why we recommend it is this kind of software can scan and search deeply in your computer's disk, and find all the lost data. No matter whether the data is deleted, hidden or turned to RAW.

One such tool you can trust is EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac. With the help of this software, you can restore any type of file or folder that is lost, invisible, or inaccessible. This is not able to fix all types of denied errors that come directly, but only an option you can try after trying all possible methods. 

Download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac now, and follow the steps below to find your lost or inaccessible files.

Step 1. Select the location to scan

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac and choose the hard drive, SSD,  SD card, USB flash drive, or TF card where you lost data. Click "Search for lost files" to start scanning.

Note: Before data recovery, you'd better click "Disk Backup" from the left sidebar to create a backup of your Mac to avoid further data loss. After backing up, the software can recover data from the Mac backup, and your computer can wirte new data again.

select a location and click search for lost files

Step 2. Filter lost Mac data

The software will automatically scan for lost data on MacBook/iMac. When the scan completes, filter wanted data through the "Type" and "Path" buttons.

filter lost files in types

Step 3. Recover lost data or files

Double-click a file to preview it. Then, click the "Recover" button to restore the lost data to another place. 

click recover to recover lost data

Method 1. Gain Permission for Files, Folders, or Disks on Mac

There is a permission setting available on the Mac computer. With the help of that permission, users can assign permission to all files and folders so that they can be viewed and altered. That can be changed according to the requirement. You can change it by reaching the info window. Here are the steps to gain permission for files, folders, or disks on Mac.

Step 1. Choose any file or a folder present on the disk and then get info of that on the selected one.

Click the info option

Step 2. If the selected permission is not visible in the info, click on the Arrow symbol. 

Step 3. After that, the user will see a lock symbol to click on and enter the admin password and username to unlock it. After that user will see the assigned permission from the specific file and folder. 

Step 4. Click over the name column and choose the privilege option available in the menu.

  • Read and Write
  • Read Only 
  • Write Only
  • No Access

Method 2. Check Your Permissions

As mentioned above, one possible reason you might see the permission denied error is that you don't have file access permissions. Follow the steps below to check your permissions.

Step 1. Launch the Terminal in the Mac from the utilities.

Step 2. Type the command: Enter: ls -l. Make sure don't hit the Enter button but type the word. 

Step 3. Drag the file or the folder into the terminal window.

Step 4. Now, hit Enter Button. Specific permission that is accessible to the current user will be visible on the screen.

Method 3. Change the Ownership of the Directory

You need to change the specific file or folder ownership. For that, you need to enter a Chown command into the Terminal and press Enter.

Chown -R $USER:$USER /path/to/directory

* Change /path/to/directory with the path to where you want to write to.

Method 4. Use Sudo Commands

The Sudo command gives you the ability to run commands as an administrator for about five minutes. If you failed to run commands in the Terminal again and again, simply add "sudo" before the original commands.

For example: 

  • sudo chmod 755 /dvtcolorconvert.rb
  • sudo chmod 755 ~/Themes/ObsidianCode.xccolortheme

run Sudo commands

Method 5. Assign Permission for Third-Party Apps

In most cases, the Mac will issue a notification to remind users to pass all permissions when installing the application. On some rare occasions, you need to give permission to third-party apps on your own. Here are the detailed steps:

Step 1. Go to Security & privacy, then click on the General section. 

Step 2. Enter the user administrator username / Password to unlock the editing screen. 

Step 3. Mark all the radio buttons that are showing App Store and identified developers

Step 4. Click on the Lock Button and save the changed settings.

Give permission to third-party apps


That's all about how to fix the permission denied error on Mac. Follow the given methods one by one, you can solve the problem by yourself. Or, you can apply EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac as the last resort to see if it can scan and restore the inaccessible files. If it failed again, it's also a good choice when you need to recover Trash on Mac or recover unsaved Word documents.

Permission Denied on Mac FAQs

Read the questions below to get additional help on macOS permission.

1. How do I fix Zsh permission denied on Mac?

It's a piece of cake to fix Zsh permission denied:

  • Check the File Permissions
  • Give Full Access to the Disk
  • Change the Directory's Ownership
  • Use a SUDO Command

2. Why is permission denied on Mac?

The problem you are encountering appears because of the reasons below:

  • The file is locked
  • The command has been formatted
  • The file permission is insufficient

3. How do I resolve the permission denied error?

Follow the steps below to fix the macOS permission denied:

  • Gain permission for files
  • Check your permissions
  • Change the ownership
  • Use Sudo commands
  • Assign permission for third-party apps

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

Read full bio

Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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