Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a certain binary program on OS X that can only be run as root.

I'm tired of prepending sudo each time I invoke it and typing the password, and would like it to automatically run as root when I invoke it regularly, without asking for a password.

The program's owner is root and its group is wheel.

I tried chmod ug+s to set the userid and groupid upon execution to root/wheel, but when I run the program without sudo it still complains that it can only run with sudo or as root.

share|improve this question
Can it be run at a particular time or when some event occurs? – Mark May 31 '11 at 12:22
Old time unix gurus would suggest that invoking a root-only operation by hand on a regular basis means you're doing it wrong. Is this something that can be automated? Or run as a daemon? More detail might bring suggests for solutions of a different kind. – dmckee May 31 '11 at 12:41
Is the program actually owned by root? Setuid/gid will use user/group of the file. – Daniel Beck May 31 '11 at 13:29
… where "more detail" also includes such things as whether this program's binary is on a NFS mounted volume and whether you use the nosuid mount option … in addition to why you must regularly run a program as the superuser. – JdeBP May 31 '11 at 13:29
@dmckee a lot of mac users run server software on their workstation and it's often setup to require root for things that really shouldn't need it... but reconfiguring a LAMP stack to run without root is a pain in the ass. On the other hand, restarting apache 20 times a day and typing sudo each time is also a pain in the ass. This is a simple solution. – Abhi Beckert Nov 9 '12 at 1:06
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Are you sure that the program you are trying to execute is actually a binary, and not a shell script. Most shells ignore suid scripts because they are really, really hard to do safely. An easy way to check is to use the file command on the program.

share|improve this answer

A half solution to your problem:

in the sudoers file, add the following:

username ALL= NOPASSWD: /path/to/command

Then from the command line, you can type:

sudo command

and it will run the command without asking for your password. This command will run as root.

Note, you will need to replace username with you actual username.

share|improve this answer
Astonished to find the best answer at the bottom. Thank you! – CDR Jul 11 '12 at 14:23

If you really can't invoke it as a daemon for whatever reason (this question would be relevant in that instance), this method can be hacked together, but it's pretty dirty, and not secure at all.

The concept is to launch it with an AppleScript. You'll first need to know how to invoke the process from the command line (which if you're already using sudo, means you must be all set). You'll launch that process using the do shell script command, and instead of using sudo you'll write your credentials into the AppleScript:

do shell script "/path/to/your/executable/here" user name "me" password "mypassword" with administrator privileges

I reiterate the part about this being insecure: THIS MEANS YOUR ADMIN CREDS WILL BE STORED IN PLAIN TEXT. If at all possible, you should find some way to background this as a LaunchDaemon.

share|improve this answer
A way to "Runas" for your mac :) Thanks – Vlueboy Jun 2 '11 at 4:15

ON OSX suppose the program you have is locate in /usr/local/bin/YourProgramName ... To solve this issue the following command, To change the User Id/Group ID for file hierarchies rooted in the files instead of just the files themselves.

sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/bin/

... then in Terminal invoke your programName, $YourProgramName

share|improve this answer
My problem was the installed programs were installed without proper permissions, so I ran this on the directories of those programs and now they run fine w/o sudo. Thanks! – atwixtor Mar 24 at 17:20

You can do

sudo tcsh

which will put you in a root shell.

share|improve this answer

looks like the program itself checks if is running with ID=0

share|improve this answer
… which of course it will be if it is set-UID superuser (leaving the concerns expressed above aside). What you're probably trying to say is that the program is checking for real UID 0 rather than just effective UID 0. – JdeBP May 31 '11 at 13:32


Still, I totally agree with dmckee's comment.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.