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After installing Lion, I started having permission problems for something so simple as tossing files in the trash. So, perhaps stupidly, I did a "Get Info" on the hard drive and changed the permissions to this:

  • System - Read & Write
  • Wheel - Read & Write
  • Everyone - Read & Write

I then ran the Disk Utility on the Lion Recovery partition and "repaired permissions" there as well. And on reboot, ran "Keychain First Aid" inside of the Keychain Access program.

The computer works fine now — or seems too — but I'm wondering what future problems I've unleashed. Are these settings a disaster waiting to happen?

And if yes, what's the simplest way to reverse tracks without reawakening the permissions problems I had just after update?

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Repairing permissions is generally the best (and only) way to go about this.

If you don't experience any issues, that's fine. Note that in these cases you could also reinstall Lion – it'll keep your user files intact but will overwrite all system files and thereby reset permissions to their original state.

Repairing permissions will not change any of your personal files though, so if you share the machine with other user accounts, they're all exposed. You should remove write permissions from group and other, or even remove read permissions from those completely.

At this point, I would create a proper backup.

For your home folder, that'd be:

You can also check your permissions with a terminal. Run

ls -l

in a folder to list the permissions (see Filesystem permissions). In your case,

chmod -R go-w /some/folder

would recusively remove write permissions for group and other from a folder and all of its children. Use this with caution though.

A more restrictive approach is mentioned here: Home folder permissions repair in OS X | MacFixIt - CNET Reviews

chmod -R 600 ~

This would basically remove access from group and other entirely, for your home folder (~).

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