I am trying to add a user to a group from the command line but can't figure out how. Specifically this is on Mac OS X Server version 10.5.8.

The user is 'john', the groups are 'admin' and 'wheel'.


3 Answers 3

sudo dseditgroup -o edit -a john -t user admin
sudo dseditgroup -o edit -a john -t user wheel

It's also possible to do this with dscl, but to do it properly you need to both add the user's short name to the group's GroupMembership list, and add the user's GeneratedUID to the group's GroupMembers list. dseditgroup takes care of both in a single operation.

  • 16
    Sorry i'm not too cleared with the usage. Lets say i want to add the username bob into wheel, will it be sudo dseditgroup -o edit -a bob -t user wheel ? Mar 2, 2014 at 3:46
  • 6
    @夏期劇場: Correct. Mar 2, 2014 at 4:41
  • 2
    I had to add -p as well so I could enter my password. Apr 27, 2014 at 18:23
  • 5
    Still valid on osx 10.9.2; copy and paste if you are searching for apache: sudo dseditgroup -o edit -a `whoami` -t user _www
    – vault
    Jul 16, 2014 at 13:30
  • 2
    Working in El Capitan (10.11.6) as well!
    – alexw
    Nov 23, 2016 at 20:16

For those who are looking for the same answer to newer versions of Mac OS, I've found this: To add a user to a group, you need this command ($USER is the current logged-in user) :

$ sudo dscl . append /Groups/wheel GroupMembership $USER

I was trying to add my user to the wheel group, to be able to manipulate the /Library/WebServer/Documents folder. Besides that, I had to change the permissions to that folder, as by default it is 755. I've changed it to 775 with:

$ sudo chmod -R 775 /Library/WebServer/Documents

This way I can manipulate the folder content without changing the owner of the folder.

ps. Still working on Catalina (10.15.3)

  • Can anyone confirm whether this works on 10.14 (mojave) ?
    – Sary
    Feb 8, 2019 at 8:28
  • 1
    It works for me on 10.14.4.
    – mwfearnley
    May 14, 2019 at 10:44
  • Great. works with Mojave 10.14.5. Thanks for sharing! Jun 4, 2019 at 19:14
  • @GordonDavisson's answer seems also to work on recent versions (I just used it on Ventura), and says that, in addition to this step, one should also add the user's UID to the group's GroupMembers list.
    – LSpice
    Mar 31 at 1:12

Check out this link:


Adding a user is something easily accomplished using the built in GUI tools that ship with OS X, however any power user can appreciate the possible efficiency gained from using the command line. So in the spirit of efficiency here are the steps necessary to add a user to your Mac OS X system all with our good friend, Terminal.app.

The important bit is here:

Create and set the user’s group ID property.

dscl / -create /Users/toddharris PrimaryGroupID 1000
  • tried it with sudo dscl . -append /Groups/admin GroupMembership username and though it added the user to "admin" but it also added a bunch of other groups like com.apple.sharepoint.group.1 and com.apple.access_screensharing ect... ?!?
    – Meltemi
    Nov 23, 2010 at 3:01
  • That is strange. On the other hand, perhaps these are groups that have been associated with that user, or it somehow inherited them from elsewhere.
    – user3463
    Nov 23, 2010 at 3:13
  • Did you read through the man pages for dscl at all?
    – user3463
    Nov 23, 2010 at 3:17

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