I am on Mac OS X Lion and wants to prevent users from creating sub directories inside a folder but at the same time users should be able to add files to the same directory.

The following command does not allow user to add files to the folder:

chmod +a "user allow add_file" test

What should I do to allow users to add files and not sub directories?

1 Answer 1


EDIT: The following is a partial solution. It will work at the shell level as expected but in Finder it can be bypassed with the if user is admin or knows the a admin user id & password. See comments below...

Check the man page on chmod and you will find...

 The following permissions are applicable to directories:
       list    List entries.
       search  Look up files by name.
               Add a file.
               Add a subdirectory.
               Delete a contained object.  See the file delete permission

So the command you are looking for is...

$ chmod +a "staff deny add_subdirectory" test

to forbid anyone in group staff from creating sub folder and then testing should give you

$ mkdir test/subtest
mkdir: test/subtest: Permission denied

Where as creating a file...

$ touch test/blah.txt

is no problem. You should also find that Finder will have the Create Folder option disabled as well.


  • Terminal is behaving as expected but not Finder. When I copy a file using Finder it asks me for a password, although it allows me to move a file cmd+shift+v which I can't understand why? Jan 11, 2015 at 19:49
  • Yeah I just noticed too on my OSX 10.6.8, Finder will disable the New Folder action but will allow to move a folder if you authenticate. Strange. It may have something to do with ownership. I'll check tomorrow and report back.
    – Vic
    Jan 11, 2015 at 22:57
  • No luck. As long as the user is or has access to an admin account they can bypass this. So it is a partial solution.
    – Vic
    Jan 17, 2015 at 18:25

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