I have a MBP with Lion (10.7.3) on it and there are two user accounts on it, I use them to seperate work and private stuff, but when I install apps, I generally want to use/upgrade/remove them using either account.

Applications that come as a package (.pkg/.mpkg) tend to install/upgrade easily and require admin permissions in a user friendly way, no problem here.

Other applications just come as an app bundle, which you can move to a desired location, in my case this is the /Applications folder, since I like all apps to be in a central place. But when user A moves an application there, there's no need for a password, but a application will be owned by user A, and read-only to user B. A lot of things that are supposed to be user-friendly break in this situation, for example: applications that upgrade themselves stumble over this, and instead of replacing an old bundle with a new one, I have to manually delete the old one before putting the new one in place. It's not the end of the world, but I wouldn't exactly call this user friendly.

So, how is it possible that user A can dump something in the /Applications folder without using a password, only to find it read-only to user B? It's very annoying. Also when I install something in account A, but use it the first few times using account B the "this application came from the internet, are you sure you want to use it?"-warning doesn't go away until I use it with account B.

I'd like the applications (or their folder, whatever) to be read-write for both or writable using a password or something. Is there a way to make this annoyance go away? Should I install these applications in a different way? I want to manage my apps "user account-agnostically" if that's possible.

I have experience with linux/unix/command/BSD subsystem, what have you, so answers of a technical nature will help. Of course I have tried chmod, chown creatively to tackle single instances, but I don't like fiddling around with permissions when I'm in the mac's natural habitat (system folders/app bundles). So any info on this matter will help.

Just to make it clear, I would like a nice workflow for managing/upgrading apps between two admins on the same computer, it shouldn't require an understanding of file permissions as it does now, it seems this situation is something the developers at Apple never thought of. Filling in a password is no problem, but sometimes deleting an app (in order replace it with an upgrade) is impossible unless I open Terminal and use sudo rm -rf /Application/SomeApplication.app. You just can't expect that from two users of a single computer that know both are able to install/delete apps but aren't technically savvy.

  • Is "user B" an administrator (or "user A" for that matter) ?
    – Tyr
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 13:29
  • To disable the downloaded from internet warning do defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool NO, but I don't think that it is a good idea. As for the other question -- I'd like to see answer too; all workarounds that I've seen create more issues that they solve.
    – lupincho
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 13:42
  • Both are admins, both use passwords, entering passwords is no problem, I just don't want to have to do all kinds of little actions to fix every app every time. I like the quarantine function of OSX, so I agree it's not a good idea :). I've thought about chown -R root:wheel /Applications and chmod -R a+rX /Applications, but I think it won't solve anything.
    – pancake
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 15:11
  • the chmod actually doesn't really apply to my situation, reading and running the apps is never a problem, writing is.
    – pancake
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 15:12
  • So if both users don't have to use passwords that's fine? Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


Best practice - use one admin account that is used to install applications. Start application with the admin account after download.

  • Avoids file permission problems when updating applications.
  • As long as the admin account has OK:ed the "downloaded from internet" popup, the other users do not have to.
  • If the other users are not administrators, they will have less automatic update notifications (at least System Update will not run).
  • Avoids the need for cryptic terminal commands after every installation.
  • 1
    You know what? Even though is isn't the solution I would have wanted, it probably is the easiest right now.
    – pancake
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 22:30
  • Does this approach grant app access to the admin and a specific set of users? I don't want all users to have access to it. Commented Feb 25 at 15:56

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