Mac OS: Turn Off Drive Ownership

This article was suggested by Robert Bagley, who was having problems storing files on a newly-acquired hard drive. Fixing his problem was simple – but not obvious. If this setting is incorrect on a new hard drive you just installed, you’ll have problems accessing files on that drive.

NOTE: This technique applies to, and works the same on, all versions of the Mac OS from 10.6 through 10.9.

Applications, and the boot disk, require permissions and ownership to be accurate and enabled to function properly. (A permission allows one application to “talk” with another application.) This is what we are repairing when we use Disk Utility to “Repair Permissions.”

NOTE: File servers, also, require permissions to keep track of which user has access to which file.

Drives that store data don’t use permissions and ownership. In fact, they shouldn’t use permissions. However, especially for new drives, permissions get turned on by accident for a data drive, which then prevents it from working properly.

Here’s how to turn off permissions on a hard drive or RAID.

BIG NOTE: This should NOT be done for the boot disk or server volumes. This SHOULD be done for all direct-connected drives that only store data.

Select a drive. (Remember, leave the boot disk alone.)

Type Command+I (or choose File > Get Info). This displays a wide variety of statistics about that hard disk. (My favorite is “Available,” which is always seems to disappear almost immediately.)

If it is closed, twirl open the Sharing and Permissions triangle and look toward the bottom. If “Ignore ownership on this volume” is checked, everything is fine.

However, if this is NOT checked, we need to change the setting.

Click the lock and enter an administrator’s password to allow changes to this setting.

Then, check “Ignore Ownership on this volume” and close the window.

You only need to do this once for each of your data drives. Most of the time, this will be set correctly. But, for those instances where it isn’t, now you know how to fix it.


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74 Responses to Mac OS: Turn Off Drive Ownership

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  1. Tim Murray says:

    Similar to John of Feb 14, I don’t have an “ignore owner” check box. It’s an external LaCie Firewire.

  2. Russ Reno says:

    This does not work. Apple still takes over files that you put on the disk. So tired of apple and their seizing our files all in the name of security. How do I keep Apple out of my files?

    • Larry says:

      Russ:

      I’m not seeing this problem. What do you mean by: “Apple still takes over files that you put on the disk.”? What’s happening?

      Larry

      • Russ Reno says:

        Sorry it took so long for me to respond. This is an ongoing issue with me. All in the name of “Security” apple keeps blocking manual file storage by linking the file to application, users and more. Bottom line I am looking for an override to export a file to an external drive and have it remain independent free of Apples control. This is so frustrating as I work with client data and wish to provide them with copies and I store manual copies of raw photo data that I do not want linked to any devise, user, server or network. How do I override? Please advise.

        • Crow says:

          Russ…you seem to be one of those people who just hate Apple for nonsensical reasons, or for doing things you don’t understand. Apple does not “control” your files; nor do they link the files to a specific app, etc. They use a simple, tried-and-true system for establishing ownership of a file. Windows does, too – in a different way. There’s nothing malevolent going on. Apple isn’t overwriting anything. I imagine you have probably messed around with permissions and gotten yourself in over your head.
          If it helps, there are four different dates that Apple keeps with a file’s metadata: file created, file modified, file added, and file last opened. Perhaps what you are looking at is a different date attribute.
          You really have not explained what your problem even IS exactly. To get help, you need to supply info like: what machine you are using and the OS; what the drive is that you’re trying to copy to; the filesystem that the drive is formatted with; and what the actual problem is that you’re having!

  3. Matthew D Grund says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for this article. Perhaps you could update it for High Sierra? There is a utility available from the command line called “vsdbutil” which can be used to manage this setting.

    Also – this setting is useful if the drive is attached to a Mac used as a file server, so it’s not always an inconvenience to honor permissions on an external drive.

    • Larry says:

      Matthew:

      Thanks for letting us know.

      Larry

    • Tom Vandenberg Retired says:

      Hi Matthew,
      Would you be able to type the command line text here to accomplish that task? I tried the command in Terminal, and was put-off by the format of the command. Newbie fits me to a “T”
      Thanks in advance,
      Tom

  4. vjspin3 says:

    The Ignore Permissions is never available in any volume Info window, so checking or unchecking something that doesn’t exist is a worthless instruction.

  5. Russ says:

    Currently I am working on RAW photos files attempting to make a hard disk back-up of this data. When you follow the above instructions – as I have. The disk is still overwritten by apples “security features”. It changes the date of the RAW media to reflect the date of the application that last used the media or the user that duplicated the media.
    I can confirm this by searching for the file in Spotlight and comparing it to the file data on the drive. The drive is overwritten by Apple to reflect an incorrect “date created” Spotlight shows the same file with the correct date. The file has ALL permissions and the disk has “ignore ownership” I have done multiple permission updates and repair disk. Nothing is working it is still being overwritten by apple.

    • Larry says:

      Russ.

      I don’t have an answer. Please contact Apple support.

      Larry

    • Ben says:

      Hey Russ, I think I have an idea on the trouble you’re having.

      “It changes the date of the RAW media to reflect the date of the application that last used the media or the user that duplicated the media.”

      This sounds to me like you’re confusing the ‘created date’ stamp with a ‘last modified date’ stamp. Most apps will add metadata to the file, so the file is updated and the newer date is shown. Check your finder window view preferences and see what’s showing. Sometimes folders view stuff differently to what’s specc’d by the parent.

      “I can confirm this by searching for the file in Spotlight and comparing it to the file data on the drive. The drive is overwritten by Apple to reflect an incorrect “date created” Spotlight shows the same file with the correct date.”

      This also sounds like your finder window us showing the modified date while spotlight is showing the created date. If you’re using Apple’s own tools like Photos, Apple does create multiple versions of the files if you modify the image in any way. So, you may be seeing one of the new files if it’s not a mixup between modified and created.

      “The file has ALL permissions and the disk has “ignore ownership” I have done multiple permission updates and repair disk. Nothing is working it is still being overwritten by apple.”

      I don’t think this has anything to do with permissions and security, this is all metadata based changes. Apple does do weird things with metadata, and it could be an app like Adobe Bridge that tags files as it caches them for display. If it was security/permissions related, you wouldn’t be able to access/view/read/save the file etc…

      Maybe you need to keep an untouched RAW image in a separate folder that’s only use is to be copied somewhere else for editing/retouching? That way it’ll never be saved over intentionally by yourself. Or, perhaps just setup a test folder and go through your workflow to see what is actually changing the information, to give you a start on fixing the issue.

      Cheers,
      Ben

  6. Todd says:

    Worked great thanks

  7. Carola Panzeri says:

    All goes fine until I try checking the ‘Ignore ownership on this volume’ and it says that the operation could not e completed because of error -8076. How can I solve this problem?

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