Since Migration Assistant blew up while moving to my new Mac, I've had continuing problems with permissions throughout the system.

I believe the problem is that the Apps can't save into my Library. I have only two permissions across my entire Home folder tree, me read-write and everyone read-only. I seem to be the owner for every file.

Can someone out there poke about in their Library and similar folders and see if this is the same? I suspect that either a group needs write permission, or that some of the files are not supposed to be owned by me.

3 Answers 3


Ok, just in case this comes up again, maybe I'll find my own answer :-)

The problem is that modern versions of OS X apply new permissions seemingly at random when problems are encountered. In this case, the OS added a third permission to everything below the home folder, and the permission was "everyone (custom)". Opening it, I found it disallowed writes by me to my own folder.

Suggestions for others; pick a file at random, maybe in your documents, and Get Info. Look at permissions - the first line should be "me", and is likely broken otherwise. Also check the enclosing folder for same.


Linking this answer for future searchers. It appears Disk Utility's fix perms only fixes some, not all perms. Home folder it leaves alone.
This link shows how to reset the Home folder perms.

Resetting ACLs can also be done by tools like Cocktail & Onyx.

As far as I know, any home folder item should by default have these perms

  • myname(Me) Read & Write
  • _myname Read only
  • everyone Read only

...though I have seen some without _myname & some with the everyone perm as no access, without causing any apparent issues.

I presume you have run Disk Utility fix permissions & verify disk, just to be certain.

  • Yes, everything in Disk Util comes up clean. Apple Support also suggested other tools like ResetPassword (which has a misleading name!) and such, to no avail. Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 15:26
  • Perhaps one direct check? Whatever the links under the Safari menu bar are called - link bar, whatever. Where are they stored? Can you check the permissions on that folder? Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 15:27
  • Not being any kind of Terminal guru, it's the kind of thing I'd find myself in Cocktail, pressing all the 'fixit buttons' one at a time to try fix. I'll leave that as an "if no-one else can tell you anything smarter" option. ;-)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 15:28

Disk Utility's Reset Permissions feature doesn't affect your home directory, so it won't work here. But it also has a second, hidden permissions reset tool for your home directory. You use it from Terminal, like this:

diskutil resetUserPermissions / $(id -u)

(Source: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203538)

  • If you have your user folder on another volume… the given command treats instead the main drive. (Re the main question… Migration Assistant simply does not work properly if you have an external drive.)
    – Carsogrin
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 13:59

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