Repairing Permissions with Disk Utility

Repairing Permissions with Disk Utility

Sometimes it’s the simple things that we forget – maintenance. On the surface Mac OS X appears to be an operating system where you can just set it up and forget it. That is what most Mac OS X users do so don’t think you are the only one. I have worked with a lot of different people who call me an ask why their Mac isn’t running as fast as it used to. This is a simple maintenance routine is one that I generally start out with to get things going again.

Repairing Permissions with Disk Utility

Repairing Permissions using Disk Utility checks for any inconsistencies or differences your operating system might have. This typically examines permission differences on files and folders against what Mac OS X expects them to be. If something is found it is changed to match the expected settings. Permissions tend to become fragmented after third-party installations since the installer needs to access and create certain files on your Mac.
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The Repair Disk Permissions function as part of Apple’s Disk Utility located on your hard drive in your /Applications/Utilities folder. Start by navigating to Disk Utility:

  1. Launch Disk Utility
  2. Select the desired disk, generally your startup disk found in the left column.
  3. Click the First Aid tab.
  4. At the bottom click the Repair Disk Permissions button.

Next to the Repair Disk Permissions button you will see the Verify Disk Permissions button. Selecting this option allows you to preview potential repairs before performing them. Personally there is little added benefit in doing this. Once the repair is complete I run the it a second time just to make sure that it has corrected all the errors. Once complete close Disk Utility.

Other Options

Check my article on Repairing Your Primary Startup Disk with Disk Utility. Other ways of optimizing your system is using a third-party application such as MacJanitor (Free), OnyX (Free), or TinkerTool System 1 & 2 (Paid). These applications offer a collection of system utility features assisting you in performing advanced administration tasks on Apple Macintosh computers by running system optimizing scripts to maximize your performance.

Repairing Your Primary Startup Disk with Disk Utility

Repairing Your Primary Startup Disk with Disk Utility

Using Disk Utility

Sometimes Apple’s Disk Utility is just not enough to do the job when it comes to repairing your primary drive. Using the Verify Disk Feature in Disk Utility is a great way to get a basic sense of what you are dealing with; unfortunately it’s a bit buggy.

In addition to using disk utility you might also want to try these additional options, running disk utility from the installer DVD or conducting a repair in Single User Mode.

Installer DVD
Starting up from installer DVD that came with your Mac or most recent version upgrade disk gives you access to the repair features found using Disk Utility.

Simply go to the Finder Menu > Select Utilities > Disk Utility.

Single-User Mode
If this is not an option try Single User Mode. On start up hold down COMMAND – S.

Your Mac should start in command-line mode. Fortunately you don’t have to know much about Unix to perform this repair. Once the command prompt appears type:

/sbin/fsck –fy

The output after you take this action should be similar to that when you run Disk Utilty.

It will either end with a successful repair or an error code giving you more of a clue of what to do next.

To exit Single User Mode simply type:



If you are one of those Mac Users that wants to be ready in the case of an emergency and want additional options you might want to install AppleJack. The AppleJack Project is a user-friendly troubleshooting assistant for Mac OS X that you can load in Single User Mode. Once installed you can hold Command – S on startup entering Single User Mode. Then type “applejack” at the prompt. From the list of menu-based options select “repair disks” to start the repair process or select additional repair options.

Bootable Drive
Another forward thinking option is a start up from a secondary bootable drive that should have first aid utilities installed. Other than Disk Utility the drive should have something like Alsoft DiskWarrior 4.1 or Micromat TechTool Pro 5 for Mac installed.

Safe Boot
Holding down the Shift key at startup. Your Mac will perform routine called a Safe Boot that runs a directory check similar to Repair Disk but without the feedback. Keep in mind that without the feedback you can confirm if your Mac needed repairs and what were completed, but if it gets you running again it might not matter.

Nothing Working
If nothing works your might have to resort to a robust repair utility program such as Alsoft DiskWarrior 4.1 or Micromat TechTool Pro 5 for Mac. If you have AppleCare Micromat TechTool Pro 5 for Mac comes on the disk or you just might want to call for help at this point. If you don’t have AppleCare or are out of your warranty you might have to take it to a certified technician or try TechRestore – Specializing in overnight repairs and upgrades for MacBooks, PowerBooks & iBooks.

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