|Original author(s)||AT&T Bell Laboratories|
|Developer(s)||Various open-source and commercial developers|
|Initial release||3 November 1971|
|Written in||Plan 9: C|
|Operating system||Unix, Unix-like, Plan 9, Inferno, IBM i|
Plan 9: MIT License
In Unix and Unix-like operating systems, chmod is the command and system call used to change the access permissions and the special mode flags (the setuid, setgid, and sticky flags) of file system objects (files and directories). Collectively these were originally called its modes, and the name chmod was chosen as an abbreviation of change mode.
The version of chmod bundled in GNU coreutils was written by David MacKenzie and Jim Meyering. The command is available as a separate package for Microsoft Windows as part of the UnxUtils collection of native Win32 ports of common GNU Unix-like utilities. The chmod command has also been ported to the IBM i operating system.
Throughout this section, user refers to the owner of the file, as a reminder that the symbolic form of the command uses "u".
chmod [options] mode[,mode] file1 [file2 ...]
Usually implemented options include:
-RRecursive, i.e. include objects in subdirectories.
-vverbose, show objects changed (unchanged objects are not shown).
If a symbolic link is specified, the target object is affected. File modes directly associated with symbolic links themselves are typically not used.
$ ls -l findPhoneNumbers.sh -rwxr-xr-- 1 dgerman staff 823 Dec 16 15:03 findPhoneNumbers.sh $ stat -c %a findPhoneNumbers.sh 754
x specify the read, write, and execute access (the first character of the ls display denotes the object type; a hyphen represents a plain file). The script findPhoneNumbers.sh can be read, written to, and executed by the user dgerman; read and executed by members of the staff group; and only read by any other users.
The main parts of the chmod permissions:
Each group of three characters define permissions for each class:
- the three leftmost characters,
rwx, define permissions for the User class (i.e. the file owner).
- the middle three characters,
r-x, define permissions for the Group class (i.e. the group owning the file)
- the rightmost three characters,
---, define permissions for the Others class. In this example, users who are not the owner of the file and who are not members of the Group (and, thus, are in the Others class) have no permission to access the file.
The chmod numerical format accepts up to four digits. The three rightmost digits define permissions for the file user, the group, and others. The optional leading digit, when 4 digits are given, specifies the special setuid, setgid, and sticky flags. Each digit of the three rightmost digits represents a binary value, which controls the "read", "write" and "execute" permissions respectively. A value of 1 means a class is allowed that action, while a 0 means it is disallowed.
||4(r) + 2(w) + 1(x)||
||read, write and execute|
||4(r) + 2(w)||
||read and write|
||4(r) + 1(x)||
||read and execute|
||2(w) + 1(x)||
||write and execute|
754 would allow:
- "read" (4), "write" (2), and "execute" (1) for the User class; i.e., 7 (4 + 2 + 1).
- "read" (4) and "execute" (1) for the Group class; i.e., 5 (4 + 1).
- Only "read" (4) for the Others class.
A numerical code permits execution if and only if it is odd (i.e.
7). A numerical code permits "read" if and only if it is greater than or equal to
7). A numerical code permits "write" if and only if it is
Change permissions to permit members of the programmers group to update a file:
$ ls -l sharedFile -rw-r--r-- 1 jsmith programmers 57 Jul 3 10:13 sharedFile $ chmod 664 sharedFile $ ls -l sharedFile -rw-rw-r-- 1 jsmith programmers 57 Jul 3 10:13 sharedFile
Since the setuid, setgid and sticky bits are not specified, this is equivalent to:
$ chmod 0664 sharedFile
The chmod command also accepts a finer-grained symbolic notation, which allows modifying specific modes while leaving other modes untouched. The symbolic mode is composed of three components, which are combined to form a single string of text:
$ chmod [references][operator][modes] file ...
Classes of users are used to distinguish to whom the permissions apply. If no classes are specified "all" is implied. The classes are represented by one or more of the following letters:
|g||group||members of the file's group|
|o||others||users who are neither the file's owner nor members of the file's group|
|a||all||all three of the above, same as |
|(empty)||default||same as "all", except that bits in the umask will be unchanged|
The chmod program uses an operator to specify how the modes of a file should be adjusted. The following operators are accepted:
|+||adds the specified modes to the specified classes|
|-||removes the specified modes from the specified classes|
|=||the modes specified are to be made the exact modes for the specified classes|
The modes indicate which permissions are to be granted or removed from the specified classes. There are three basic modes which correspond to the basic permissions:
|r||read||read a file or list a directory's contents|
|w||write||write to a file or directory|
|x||execute||execute a file or recurse a directory tree|
|X||special execute||which is not a permission in itself but rather can be used instead of x. It applies execute permissions to directories regardless of their current permissions and applies execute permissions to a file which already has at least one execute permission bit already set (either User, Group or Others). It is only really useful when used with |
Multiple changes can be specified by separating multiple symbolic modes with commas (without spaces). If a user is not specified,
chmod will check the umask and the effect will be as if "a" was specified except bits that are set in the umask are not affected.
- Add write permission (w) to the Group's (g) access modes of a directory, allowing users in the same group to add files:
$ ls -ld shared_dir # show access modes before chmod drwxr-xr-x 2 jsmitt northregion 96 Apr 8 12:53 shared_dir $ chmod g+w shared_dir $ ls -ld shared_dir # show access modes after chmod drwxrwxr-x 2 jsmitt northregion 96 Apr 8 12:53 shared_dir
- Remove write permissions (w) for all classes (a), preventing anyone from writing to the file:
$ ls -l ourBestReferenceFile -rw-rw-r-- 2 tmiller northregion 96 Apr 8 12:53 ourBestReferenceFile $ chmod a-w ourBestReferenceFile $ ls -l ourBestReferenceFile -r--r--r-- 2 tmiller northregion 96 Apr 8 12:53 ourBestReferenceFile
- Set the permissions for the user and the Group (ug) to read and execute (rx) only (no write permission) on referenceLib, preventing anyone from adding files.
$ ls -ld referenceLib drwxr----- 2 ebowman northregion 96 Apr 8 12:53 referenceLib $ chmod ug=rx referenceLib $ ls -ld referenceLib dr-xr-x--- 2 ebowman northregion 96 Apr 8 12:53 referenceLib
- Add the read and write permissions to the user and group classes of a file or directory named sample:
$ chmod ug+rw sample $ ls -ld sample drw-rw---- 2 rsanchez budget 96 Dec 8 12:53 sample
- Remove all permissions, allowing no one to read, write, or execute the file named sample to no useful end.
$ chmod a-rwx sample $ ls -l sample ---------- 2 rswven planning 96 Dec 8 12:53 sample
- Change the permissions for the user and the group to read and execute only (no write permission) on sample.
$ # Sample file permissions before command $ ls -ld sample drw-rw---- 2 oschultz warehousing 96 Dec 8 12:53 NY_DBs $ chmod ug=rx sample $ ls -ld sample dr-xr-x--- 2 oschultz warehousing 96 Dec 8 12:53 NJ_DBs
The chmod command is also capable of changing the additional permissions or special modes of a file or directory. The symbolic modes use 's' to represent the setuid and setgid modes, and 't' to represent the sticky mode. The modes are only applied to the appropriate classes, regardless of whether or not other classes are specified.
Most operating systems support the specification of special modes numerically, particularly in octal, but some do not. On these systems, only the symbolic modes can be used.
Command line examples
||adds read permission for all classes (i.e. user, Group and Others)|
||removes execute permission for all classes|
||adds read and execute permissions for all classes|
||sets read and write permission for user, sets read for Group, and denies access for Others|
||adds write permission to the directory docs and all its contents (i.e. Recursively) for owner, and removes write permission for group and others|
||sets read and write permissions for user and Group|
||sets read and write permissions for user and Group, and provides read to Others.|
||sets read, write, and execute permissions for user, and sets read permission for Group and Others|
||sets sticky bit, sets read, write, and execute permissions for owner, and sets read and execute permissions for group and others (this suggests that the script be retained in memory)|
||sets UID, sets read, write, and execute permissions for user, and sets read and execute permissions for Group and Others|
||sets GID, sets read, write, and execute permissions for user, and sets read and execute permissions for Group and Others|
||Recursively (i.e. on all files and directories in personalStuff) adds read, write, and special execution permissions for user, removes read, write, and execution permissions for Group, and removes read and execution permissions for Others|
||Recursively (i.e. on all files and directories in publicDocs) removes execute permission for all classes and adds special execution permission for all classes|
- File-system permissions
chattr, the command used to change the attributes of a file or directory on Linux systems
chown, the command used to change the owner of a file or directory on Unix-like systems
chgrp, the command used to change the group of a file or directory on Unix-like systems
cacls, a command used on Windows NT and its derivatives to modify the access control lists associated with a file or directory
umask, restricts mode (permissions) at file or directory creation on Unix-like systems
- User identifier
- Group identifier
- List of Unix commands
- The modes/permissions are shown when listing files in long format.
- "Tutorial for chmod". catcode.com.
- "AIX 5.3 System management". IBM knowledge Center. IBM. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- "chmod(1): change file mode bits - Linux man page". linux.die.net.
- "Native Win32 ports of some GNU utilities". unxutils.sourceforge.net.
- IBM. "IBM System i Version 7.2 Programming Qshell" (PDF). IBM. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
- "chmod Man Page with examples and calculator - Linux - SS64.com". ss64.com.
- "AIX 5.5 Commands Reference". IBM Knowledge Center. IBM. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- "Permissions masking with umask, chmod, 777 octal permissions". teaching.idallen.com.
- FreeBSD General Commands Manual : change file modes –
- Plan 9 Programmer's Manual, Volume 1 –
- Inferno General commands Manual –
chmod— manual page from GNU coreutils.
- GNU "Setting Permissions" manual
- CHMOD-Win 3.0 — Freeware Windows' ACL ↔ CHMOD converter.
- Beginners tutorial with on-line "live" example