Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have the following launchctl command as a .plist file. It's loaded and set to run once a day but, it needs to run as root and I'm not sure how to verify this.

Also, this cron job basically CDs into a directory and runs a command. I'm sure launchd has a better way of specifying the directory where it's supposed to run the command.

How do I know it's run as root and is there a better way to write this?

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 24 down vote accepted

What folder is the .plist stored in?

launchd runs Daemons (/Library/LaunchDaemons or /System/Library/LaunchDaemons) as root, and will run them regardless of whether users are logged in or not. Launch Agents (/Library/LaunchAgents/ or ~/Library/LaunchAgents/) are run when a user is logged in as that user. You can not use setuid to change the user running the script on daemons.

Because you will want to add it in /Library/LaunchDaemons you will want to make sure you load it into launchd with administrator privileges (eg. sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.samplelaunchdscript.plist)

Check out man launchd for more information.

share|improve this answer
Thank you. This is exactly what I was looking for as far as answering the root issue. The script is in /Library/LaunchDaemons so it was already running as root. –  Emmanuel Mwangi Sep 5 '09 at 17:59
A newbie question: is running launchctl required for installing a daemon? I mean, isn't it enough to copy the plist file into the corresponding path? –  Claudix May 30 '14 at 6:25
@Claudix: That's correct. Copying the launchd config in place isn't enough - you still have to "turn it on" (launchctl load) –  Chealion May 30 '14 at 17:34

Have you tried using one of the launchd editors?

To make sure it is run as root, I'm pretty sure launchd will run the programs as root. Ever think of giving ownership of the script to root using chmod? This way, it won't run unless run as root. You need to then verify that it runs.

sudo chown root:admin script_to_run_by_launchd
share|improve this answer
I did use Lingon to write this script. And I can fonfirm it works well in Leopard. –  Emmanuel Mwangi Sep 5 '09 at 17:57

Property lists in LaunchAgents also work, but you have to load both agents and daemons with sudo:

sudo chown root /Library/LaunchAgents/test.plist
sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchAgents/test.plist

If the plist doesn't have a disabled key, it is loaded on the next login or restart by default, and -w is not necessary.

Technical Note TN2083: Daemons and Agents:

A daemon is a program that runs in the background as part of the overall system (that is, it is not tied to a particular user). A daemon cannot display any GUI; more specifically, it is not allowed to connect to the window server.


An agent is a process that runs in the background on behalf of a particular user. Agents are useful because they can do things that daemons can't, like reliably access the user's home directory or connect to the window server.

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.