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I did something stupid and accidentally changed the ownership of the entire /var folder recursively

chown -R username /var

I have seen a few other people fix this by going to recovery mode or single user mode. Unfortunately when I try recovery/internet recovery I get the message

no users available for authorization

And the only option I have is erase mac

When I try single user mode repair_packages isn’t a thing anymore, and fsck can’t be run on the root drive, and even if it could, thanks to T2 I can’t mount the drive as rw due to csrutil boot security which can’t be disabled except in recovery.

I really don’t want to erase my Mac. Anything else I should try?

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    Why is erasing your only option? (Or is that your way of saying you don’t have a recent backup or any backup) Wouldn’t installing same version of macOS (whichever you have) drop a new system on top of the apps and files you have?
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 9:06
  • In recovery, without first logging in (which I'm not able to do becuase of the no users available screen mentioned) this is the only option I'm given. I'm going to try and create a bootable USB and reinstall that way.
    – richbai90
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 20:41

2 Answers 2

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You can try to repair your disk using macOS Recovery:

  1. Restart or turn on your Mac and press and hold CommandR to start up your Mac from the built-in macOS recovery system.

    If your Mac doesn't start up, try OptionCommandR to start macOS Recovery over the Internet.

    If your Mac is using a firmware password, you will be prompted to enter it.

  2. Wait until the utilities window is displayed and selct Disk Utility:

    enter image description here

  3. In Disk Uility, if available, choose View > Show All Devices to see all available devices:

    enter code here

  4. The procedure is to first repair volumes, then containers and then disks. Since you want to repair /var, select the "Data" volume:

    enter image description here

  5. Click the First Aid button:

    enter image description here

    and press Run (if there is no Run button, click the Repair Disk button instead):

    enter image description here

  6. After Disk Utility is done checking the volume, move up the list and select the container:

    enter image description here

    and proceed as explained above to repair it.

  7. After Disk Utility is done checking the container, select the disk:

    enter image description here

    and proceed as explained above to repair it.

  8. When First Aid is done:

    enter image description here

    quit Disk Utility and restart your Mac from the Apple Menu > Restart.

See https://support.apple.com/HT210898 for details.

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    That was my first thought. Unfortunately I can't get past the no users available for authorization screen. I never get to the reinstall/diskrepair/restore screen, and the only option provided under the tools menu at the top is to erase. This is true when I boot from internet recory also. At this point, I'm going to try and create a bootable USB and reinstall that way.
    – richbai90
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 20:40
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    Bummer @richbai90 that authorization token missing is an unlucky coincidence that also likely prevents the reinstall of the OS. What exact model is the Mac? You can surely install onto an external usb and run the installer from there against the “proper” drive using the new with. Steps for that depend on hardware
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 22:01
  • @richbai90 Yeah, I re-read your question and you say recovery didn't work, I somehow missed that. I've found an Apple support document that describes the "no users available for authorization" issue: support.apple.com/HT212541. The document seems to indicate you can get past the error and erase the disk, isn't that possible in your case?
    – jaume
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 8:33
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Even with a bootable USB it put me back to the same locked recovery screen. I ended up formatting and reinstalling. Still my most important files were backed up at least. Moral of the story: Even when you know what you're doing, mistakes happen. Take regular backups and be extremely careful with the sudo command. Live and learn.

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