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More on Repairing Permissions

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There are certain things that all Mac users should know as soon as possible after buying their first Mac. One is how to use the most common tool to repair issues with your Mac.


When your Mac becomes slow and sluggish, when you experience seemingly random and cryptic error messages, when applications refuse to launch or quit unexpectedly, preferences won’t store properly, files won’t open or behave oddly… You get the idea - when just about anything behaves slightly odd.


When OS X itself, and additional packages, are installed, they leave behind instructions on what files go where as well as permissions. Mac OS X also uses these instructions, and permissions to determine which users can perform tasks on files and folders. Corrupt permissions can manifest themselves in odd ways, such as the those mentioned above. Therefore, whenever your Mac starts acting oddly, it’s best to take a few minutes to use Disk Utility to verify and repair these disk permissions.


Disk Utility is a free program that is bundled with Mac OS X. It can perform all manner of tasks, but for today we only want to verify and repair permissions. To do this, start by either opening a Finder window, clicking on Applications (on the left side of your window), scroll down to utilities and then double clicking on Disk Utility or by simply doing a Spotlight search for the term “Disk Utility”.


With the application open, go to the first aid tab and select the volume you wish to repair from the list on the left hand side. If the verify permissions and/or repair permissions buttons at the bottom of this window are grayed out and unusable you have either not logged in as a system administrator, or you have not selected a boot volume (one which OS X is stored on and boots up from).


Once you have selected your boot volume you want to first verify permissions, so go ahead and click the verify permissions button. This will tell OS X to look for all permissions which aren’t as default or somehow changed, and create a list of them. It is completely normal for certain permissions never to appear to repair; this is because they are what's called Special Permissions and it's a part of the OS, nothing to worry about.


Once that is complete, you want to repair those permissions in the list you just created, so go ahead and click repair permissions. There should be no need to restart your Mac for these changes to take effect.


It’s recommended that you follow this procedure after you install an update or application, whenever your system is sluggish, has any kind of error or issue, before seeking help in online forums or through Apple, and simply for the sake of maintenance, once a month or so during normal use.


It’s a good practice to get into the habit of doing this whenever you install a new application or run any kind of update on OS X especially when you are asked to enter your password to continue an installation as you are providing privileges to the installer to add, delete or change permissions and this can be universal.


Congratulations! You can now repair 90% of your niggling Mac OS X issues.


Note: Some permissions will not appear to repair and will try to "fix" again on the next attempt. This is normal because these are "Special Permissions" and should not be considered an issue.

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