View Full Version : Insufficient Privileges

22nd March 2008, 03:58 PM
I've just discovered an interesting and yet annoying problem on the Alu iMac I'm babysitting for my Dad.

I've tried to install two different applications this morning (Skype & Handbrake) and when I drag them to the Applications folder I get asked "Do you want to replace an older version", I click Yes and then I get this message:

I've run Disk Utility and everything checks out.

I check the Info of both the Applications folder and the hard disc and found that my Dad's username wasn't even listed. I added it and gave it both Read & Write privileges but that doesn't help.

If I delete an application to be replaced from the Applications folder, I can put an updated version in. But I get the above message everytime otherwise.


22nd March 2008, 04:01 PM

sudo rm -rf /Applications/Skype.app

23rd March 2008, 01:50 PM
Yep, that completely erases said application - which is something you probably want to tell someone before recommending it. I'm glad I didn't complain about permissions problems with my photo and music folders!

Reinstalling Skype corrected the permissions though and put me on the right track. It seems that although all Apple apps are correct, all the apps I brought over to the machine with Migration Assistant have odd permissions, like this:


It seems to be a known issue (http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1451197&tstart=0) and someone has recommended this terminal command:

sudo chown root:admin /Applications
sudo chmod 775 /Applications

I'm completely command-line illiterate. Could someone more versed please confirm that this looks good?

I'm pretty sure permissions issues on apps must be the root of the problem.

23rd March 2008, 01:59 PM
tintin, those commands would work. basically what your doing is setting the owner to root, and the group to admin, and giving the owner full permissions, group full permissions, and everyone else read and execute.. (this should be the default posix permissions)

you will be able to run every application in the /Applications directory after running those commands

23rd March 2008, 07:09 PM
If you don't like using the terminal much, there's BatChmod.
Offers several flexible solutions to permissions problems.
BatChmod 1.37 software download - Mac OS X - VersionTracker (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/12057)
No certified 10.5 version I can find as yet though.


23rd March 2008, 07:33 PM
What's happened is that when you migrated them over, it kept the permissions, including the id of the owner. Since that ID is probably no longer used, it's "unknown". Indeed, it would be helpful if they just popped up a password dialogue instead of that annoying message like they do if the application is owned by root.

24th March 2008, 11:23 PM
I think you're right Currawong. My migration from a backup of 10.4 to 10.5 was a bit messy because I took a misstep along the way. I've been able to open and use all applications however, in fact there's been no problem at all until I've tried to update apps by drag and dropping a newer version on top.

The terminal commands I mentioned above from Apple forums didn't fix the problem. I'm a bit wary of use the BatChmod app you mention mctext without a confirmed 10.5 version.

Mac apps on the computer seem to be set correctly:


I assume apps I've installed after the 10.5 update should look like this:


But I've still got a whole bunch of apps (and who knows what else) which look like this:


I can get rid of that first _unknown and replace it with Me but the greyed out _unknown cannot be deleted.

Maybe we need an article here on Mactalk about permissions. I understand when my username is the owner, and that 'everyone' means anyone else who comes upon the file - but who is admin if that's not me? Does it mean any admin account on the machine, and can you have more than one?

25th March 2008, 12:26 AM
sudo chown root:admin /Applications
sudo chmod 775 /Applications


sudo chown -R root:admin /Applications
sudo chmod -R 775 /Applications

To recursively change the ownership and permissions

25th March 2008, 12:52 AM
That seems to have worked mab.

Now all permissions on all apps are:


and that's a great deal more reassuring that _unknown all over the place.


25th March 2008, 02:05 AM
No worries

25th March 2008, 09:12 AM
Beat me to it! Yes, I probably have to do an article on permissions sometime soon.

28th March 2008, 09:04 PM
You know how you think an issue is resolved, and then...

Just happened to catch a glance at some DVD rips I've just completed with Handbrake. And the permissions are, again:


with me being unable to delete that greyed-out _unknown and it's little question mark.

It doesn't seem to affect the files' usability, but I'm just annoyed because it shouldn't be happening.