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I copied over some old files of a time machine backup on a USB drive. When I try and access a user's Desktop for example I get a "can't be opened because you don't have permission to see its contents"

How do I go about fixing that?

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You just need to change the permissions to include your user account – 50-3 Sep 7 '13 at 2:47

There is an app called BatChmod that will perform advanced permissions repairs. Of course you can also use terminal commands but this is easier in a pinch. I would start with Change ownership and privileges, Clear ACLs, and Unlock. Apply it to all subfolders obviously.

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You have a few options.

The users files are setup in a group for that user, not you. You can:

  1. Change the owner of all the files to yourself
  2. Change the group to a group that you are a part of
  3. Add yourself to a group that has permissions to access the files to preserve permissions
  4. Modify the permissions so that anyone can read and write the files

1 will change the permissions of all the files so that you will become the owner

chown youruser:youruser ~/path/to/directory

2 will modify just the group of all the files to give you access without modifying the permissions

chown :youruser ~/path/to/directory

3 will modify your user, and add you to a group that has permissions to access the files

usermod -aG somegroup youruser

4 will change the permissions of all the files so that anyone can read / write / execute any file (not recommended)

chmod 777 ~/path/to/directory

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chmod 777: nonononono! Never ever run chmod 777. It is practically never required! Not even for "testing purposes". If the file is readable, then it's readable. If it's writable by the user or group that need to write to it, then it's writable. There is absolutely zero need to give everyone write permissions, and forgetting to chmod it back to something sane is exactly how multinationals get hacked. Just don't do it. Ever. I wrote an introduction of Unix permissions. Please read it! – Carpetsmoker Mar 13 at 6:11
@carpetsmoker, easy there killer, as I said, this is not recommended. Also note that I said path to directory, not file, 777 on a directory can be okay, like /tmp, but files should not be. – Matt Clark Mar 13 at 6:14
If It's not recommended, then why offer it as a possibly solution? ;-) You should never need it. And /tmp is indeed one of the very few exceptions, but only when the sticky bit is set (i.e. chmod 1777) – Carpetsmoker Mar 13 at 6:19
To be fair, this was posted 3 years ago. I have done muchhhhh more UNIX since then, I can change this up when I get off mobile. – Matt Clark Mar 13 at 6:23

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