If I try to move things to external hard drives I am asked for my admin password.

If I try to move things in or out of the Applications folder I am asked for my password. I am asked for my password for a lot of things I wasn't previously asked for. It's starting to get frustrating that I have to type it in ALL THE TIME. Is this normal for Yosemite?

No matter what permissions I change in a folder it's still asking me for my admin password to move files. What am I doing wrong?


Permissions and what to do

Sometimes, permissions can get messed up. The system get's confused on who has access to what which has many side-effects. I know of a few ways of tackling this problem.

Repairing Disk Permissions

This uses .bom files to repair permissions. .bom files, or "Bill of Materials", and are used as installation files:

BOM files contain information used to determine which files to install, update, or remove during a software update; contains files that have been installed; may include Unix permissions, owner and group data, file size, last modified date, and a checksum for each file

When you repair permissions, your Mac looks at the .bom files here and checks the actual files on your system. If a file or folder on your system has permissions that don’t match the permissions specified in the .bom files, your Mac will change the permissions to match those in the .bom files.

  1. Open Disk Utility. Hit: ⌘ + Space start typing "Disk Utility" and hit enter when it shows up. Spotlight Help
  2. Navigate to your disk / partition, this is usually Macintosh HD
  3. Then, click Repair Disk Permissions, if that is grayed out, try Verify Disk Permissions. If both are grayed out, this might be of help

Disk Utility (The computer I'm on doesn't have Yosemite but it'll be just the same)

Repairing Home Directory Permissions

If that doesn't help, you have a slightly more "annoying" problem. You need to repair your Home Directory Permissions.

This tool doesn’t use .bom files to adjust system file permissions, it just repairs a user account’s home directory to the standard, default permissions.

  1. Save all data and close all applications.
  2. Shutdown your computer

Now you need to enter "OS X Recovery Mode"

  1. Turn on your Mac while holding ⌘ + R. Recovery Mode should boot
  2. At the top, look for the menu menu bar and click Utilities
  3. From there, select Terminal
  4. Now in Terminal, type in: resetpassword. No, you won't be changing your password
  5. You should see a popup. Select Macintosh HD.
  6. Look towards the bottom of the window and click the Reset Home Folder Permissions and ACLs button.
  7. Once that finishes you should be good to go

ACLs source


Is the problem located in your keychain? That could just be it. Try creating a new account and testing if the problem still occurs, if it doesn't then you've narrowed it down to your account. I'm going to link this thread, which goes over fixing a keychain, to avoid making this question to long I've been spending almost half an hour writing this. In Keychain Access, you may just have to unlock your keychain, leave it like that and see if the problem continues.

Further Troubleshooting

If you're here, you're running out of options (as far as I know). A few tools / Applications I've seen help people:

If all else fails (A LAST RESORT),

If everything else fails, but you've narrowed down the problem to your user, you can try this. In System Preferences, create a new user account just the same as yours. Then, you can delete your current account and set the home directory of the new account to the one of your old one. How to change your home directory. I've only had to do this once but it should get rid of the issue. Obviously this should be a last resort option and isn't perfect.

Hope that helps :) I've dealt with very similar problems when upgrading and usually after doing these, the problem disappears.

  • BatchMod (in contrast to Disk Utility) doesn't really repair file permissions (in the sense that the app changes them to correct values based on a database etc.) . It just changes it and the user has to know what the correct permissions ought to be. I modified that in your answer. – klanomath Jun 21 '15 at 15:10
  • @klanomath ahh, okay. I read somewhere about BatchMod being used to reset file permissions to default so I guess I misinterpreted that :p – Downgoat Jun 21 '15 at 15:13

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