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.

  • Can it be run at a particular time or when some event occurs?
    – mmmmmm
    May 31, 2011 at 12:22
  • 9
    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. May 31, 2011 at 12:41
  • Is the program actually owned by root? Setuid/gid will use user/group of the file.
    – Daniel Beck
    May 31, 2011 at 13:29
  • 2
    … 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, 2011 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. Nov 9, 2012 at 1:06

7 Answers 7


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.

  • file /usr/local/bin/protonvpn gave me /usr/local/bin/protonvpn: a /usr/local/opt/[email protected]/bin/python3.11 script text executable, ASCII text. So that is exactly what I have and editing /etc/sudoers file by adding <username> ALL= NOPASSWD: /usr/local/bin/protonvpn does not work. Is there a similar way to get a script like this to execure without sudo? I tried changing ownership from root to username but that did not work.
    – hmj6jmh
    Jan 9 at 1:07

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.

  • 1
    Astonished to find the best answer at the bottom. Thank you!
    – CDR
    Jul 11, 2012 at 14:23
  • FYI, to solve the other half (not having to type sudo command) create a shell alias that includes sudo in the command (like surm = sudo rm "$@")
    – Walter
    Nov 7, 2017 at 22:09
  • For completion I'm just going to add that you really shouldn't be editing the sudoers file directly, as a small mistake will lock you out of your machine. Instead, run visudo, which will open the sudoers with your default editor, and then do error checking afterwards. If there's an error, visudo will refuse to save. It's save my ass many times. Additionally, try doing sudo ls from an admin account before closing your current elevated terminal to ensure you haven't hurt your admin access. Dec 29, 2023 at 2:26

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.

  • A way to "Runas" for your mac :) Thanks
    – Vlueboy
    Jun 2, 2011 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

  • 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, 2016 at 17:20

You can do

sudo tcsh

which will put you in a root shell.


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

  • 1
    … 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, 2011 at 13:32


Still, I totally agree with dmckee's comment.


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