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I'm on a brand new install of High Sierra. I created a temporary admin user (named 'bean') while setting up the system. Using 'bean' (admin), I ran Migration Assistant, and migrated the 2 users ("Scott", "Apple") in from my old High Sierra, along with all their data/settings/etc (everything Migration Assistant offered). It was an internal SSD to other internal SSD, same laptop, migration. That much data took a few hours. Afterwards, I switched into user "Scott" (admin) and went to delete the temporary "bean" user. However, I discover that within the migration time, random pre-existing folders all over my drives had permissions changed. 'bean' has been added, set as 'read and write', and 'everyone' is now set to 'no access'.

I never learned how to use "sharing & permissions" correctly, so I don't know how/why this happened or how to fix it. My first thought...

If I delete the temporary user, what happens to all these "no access" folders that they control?

sample get info of modified permissions

enter image description here

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    Can you give us some file paths of these random folders, and show us the permissions that you see? Are these on external drives?
    – benwiggy
    Nov 10, 2023 at 7:57
  • It got into both external and internal drives, file storage and OS drives, and auto backups of all of them. Oops, still editing.
    – sbimos
    Nov 10, 2023 at 8:30
  • continued: Sample internal path: MojaveSSD/Users/Apple/Documents, set to temporary user as read and write, and everyone is set to no access. (but folder obviously belongs to user "Apple".) Sample external path: MacintoshHDDi/ApolloDVD, set the same as the other one. Just realized I don't know how to add pics here...
    – sbimos
    Nov 10, 2023 at 8:38
  • You can add pictures directly to the question by editing it.
    – nohillside
    Nov 10, 2023 at 8:44
  • Anyway, assume you have "ignore ownership" checked for the external drives. See apple.stackexchange.com/questions/466078/…
    – nohillside
    Nov 10, 2023 at 8:44

2 Answers 2

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You say you're on High Sierra, but that drive is named Mojave. If you boot to different OSes on different drives, permissions will not be synced between them, each will have its own idea of what belongs to who - and that may be based on the account's number rather than its name. The first account is always 501, the next 502, etc. If you've ever added & removed accounts, then the numbering on each OS may be different.

If, however, 'apple' is an admin [on at least one of the OSes, hopefully all] then that can always be used to change permissions, so you won't get locked out so long as you can log into an admin account. It's often sensible to set any non-boot drives to ignore ownership - if you have no security concerns between the individual users, i.e. they're all actually you.

e.g from this
enter image description here

to this
enter image description here

You can add any individual user, or a group & set what perms they are allowed, simply by unlocking the padlock bottom right, & selecting another user or group. You can also propagate this new permission down the entire depth of the folder using the gear icon.

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  • It's just me on all accounts. Every OS has an "apple", and my daily use OS has "apple" AND "scott". All "apple" and "scott" are always admin. "bean" was admin only a few hours until I migrated "apple" and "scott" into the same system. I dropped "bean" to 'standard' when I found all the changes, but I didn't know if it was safe to remove him altogether. I switch back and forth between multiple High Sierras, and a Mojave. I have no ownership issues between them. The only potentially shared files are on a drive with no OS, and I never use permissions anywhere,
    – sbimos
    Nov 10, 2023 at 11:21
  • That seems to explain it - & sounds like it is down the the account number. If 'apple' & 'scott' were existing accounts on one OS, then they were 501 & 502. If 'bean' was the first account on the new OS… that's your 501. There is a way to re-align those numbers, but I think it would be best asked as a new question rather than an adjunct to this one.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 10, 2023 at 11:32
  • Your ignore ownership solution sounds good for the storage drives. 1. You never answered if I should check the "ignore ownership" box on those? 2. What level do I do the permission changes on those, the top of each (the drive?)? 3. I see you added "admin", but my add option is "administrators" (there is no "admin"), is that the correct choice? 4. I have to find a different solution for the OS drives, correct?
    – sbimos
    Nov 10, 2023 at 11:37
  • If safe, I am going to delete "bean", and his number won't be an issue.
    – sbimos
    Nov 10, 2023 at 11:39
  • I was sure i'd covered 'ignore ownership'. You can apply it to any drive you're not currently booted from, if that later becomes a boot drive the option will just vanish, to reappear next time it's not the OS. It covers the entire volume. Admin, staff, administrator, all equivalent. Any group so long as you're a member of it. Deleting bean won't renumber the accounts, just leave 501 without an actual attendent account.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 10, 2023 at 11:42
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OK, I managed to solve this, with the help of a backup copy of the pre-migration New High Sierra system (still has 'bean' though).

There's 3 systems: Original High Sierra, New High Sierra (pre-migration), and I'm setting-aside the previous New High Sierra (post-migration) for now.

I figured out how to look up the User IDs in SystemPreferences>Users&Groups and:

Old System had "Scott" 501 and "Apple" 502. New System has "bean" 501. Ignoring the set-aside system.

I went into the New System and added new users: 502, 503, 504, and 505 (up to 505 just to be careful). Then I deleted users "bean" 501, 502, 503, and 504, leaving 505 as the only account.

Still in the New System, I ran Migration Assistant, and imported "Scott" 501 and all data/settings (except "Apple"). "Scott" retained User ID 501 after the migration. Then I deleted user 505. I went back into Migration Assistant and imported "Apple" 502. "Apple" likewise retained User ID 502 after migration.

Then I deleted the set-aside previous post-migration New System (all 3 users, including "bean"). I didn't want it to conflict with the new post-migration system.

The New (post-migration) system has all permissions in-line with "Scott" and "Apple" ownership. The external drives that were affected, now have their folder permissions in-line with "Scott" and "Apple" as well. I'm not sure if the external changes reverted when "bean" 501 was deleted from the New System, or when I deleted the entire previous System I had set-aside (also with "bean" 501 in it).

Regardless, 'bean' 501 has been deleted, permissions now belong to "Scott" 501, both in-system and in external drives.

If someone doesn't have a saved copy of the destination system, I would suggest using a clean install, and importing their "Scott" 501 with the Setup Assistant during install/setup, thus avoiding creation of a new account that could start the problem all over again.

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  • Glad to hear you solved it. If you don't use the old system any longer, a chown -R ... to assign uids probably would have worked as well.
    – nohillside
    Nov 15, 2023 at 10:20

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