I am uploading files to my shell account using scp. As I need different permissions on the server than on my computer, I'd like to have a way to easily change the permissions upon upload without needing to ssh to the account and change them manually.

8 Answers 8


If you're copying from a windows machine, you can use WinSCP to copy, and it has an option to set the permissions on the copied files after the upload.

If not, I think your only choice is to execute a chmod on the server after the upload, which you could do remotely with an ssh command:

scp /path/to/file server:/server/path/to/file
ssh server chmod 644 /server/path/to/file
  • I thought about that too, what about uploading directories then? Oct 11, 2008 at 17:16
  • Hm, I could do chmod -R then. Not a bad idea I guess. Oct 11, 2008 at 17:22
  • 1
    Right. scp -r, then ssh chmod -R
    – zigdon
    Oct 11, 2008 at 17:47
  • 1
    I also had success doing the same thing with plink and pscp (from the putty package) May 22, 2013 at 21:49
  • Will this solution work for the directory options recursively as well?
    – Ammad
    Jan 29, 2021 at 5:11

My preferred working solution would be to use rsync instead:


scp /path/to/file server:/server/path/to/file


rsync --perms --chmod=u+rwx,g+rwx,o+rwx /path/to/file server:/path/to/file

This prevents you from authenticating twice. There are also a lot of other options with rsync which would probably add value such as being able to preserve owner, group, etc.

  • This is not working.
    – soham
    Jan 11, 2015 at 0:27
  • 4
    Found out the cause. You have to use --perms as well. explainshell.com/…
    – soham
    Jan 11, 2015 at 0:39
  • 6
    Could you show the full, valid, command, pelase? Either as comment, or by editting the answer
    – Mawg
    Oct 20, 2016 at 8:36
  • it appears to me (in automated way, not interactive), the host key might change, and i t has failure like this: "Host key verification failed". in ssh one can avoid this by doing "-oStrictHostKeyChecking=no", but in rsync, i do not see one. Apr 23, 2020 at 10:22
  • @soMuchToLean, you just have to use the -e option (rsync -e 'ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no' ... I think).
    – Coroos
    Mar 12, 2021 at 13:29

I have made some experiments with scp. For new files uploaded to the target server, the files have the same permissions as on the source server. If existing files are overwritten on the target server, the permissions for those files don't change.

I have done these experiments with CentOS 4.6.

  • 4
    This should be a comment instead of an answer Jul 10, 2014 at 9:26
  • 2
    Agred (but it did really help ;-)
    – Mawg
    Oct 20, 2016 at 8:48
  • This is what I'm trying to get around in one go via script. Rsync isn't always on the destination server and I'd rather that the script I give out doesn't take liberties with apt/yum etc to install rsync. Seems I might have to go the scp+chmod or rm+scp method to ensure permissions are correct. :-/
    – zaTricky
    Jul 31, 2018 at 6:09

You could do it using tar, ssh, & umask like this:

on host 1:

[saml@host1 testdir]$ pwd

[saml@host1 testdir]$ ls -l
total 12
-rw-r--r--  1 saml saml 21 May 19 00:21 file1
-rw-r--r--  1 saml saml 48 May 19 00:21 file2
-rw-r--r--  1 saml saml 28 May 19 00:21 file3

[saml@host1 testdir]$ tar cvf - . | (ssh host2 "umask 0277; cd /tmp/testdir;tar xvf -")

on host2:

[samr@host2 testdir]$ pwd

[samr@host2 testdir]$ ls -l
total 12
-r-------- 1 samr web 21 May 19 00:21 file1
-r-------- 1 samr web 48 May 19 00:21 file2
-r-------- 1 samr web 28 May 19 00:21 file3

You can drop the -v switches to tar which I've included here merely so that you can see the files being tarred up on host1 and sent through STDOUT (aka. -) and then getting un-tarred on host2.

NOTE: Why this works? Tar's default behavior is to unpack files using a remote user's umask. In the above example I've included the command umask to explicitly set it to something different which demonstrates that the remote tar is changing the permissions on the remote side.

  • 1
    As I can see with this command you can only apply fewer permissions to transferred files, as umask only substract permissions, e.g. for a local file with 700 you couldn't get the file with 755 in the destination server, or am I wrong? Jul 10, 2014 at 9:13
  • 1
    Furthermore you need --no-same-permissions for the second tar usage if the destination user is root, see superuser.com/a/383801/89031 Jul 10, 2014 at 9:14
  • @jaime - that is correct, this will only allow you to set the umask for the entire set of files as they're written to the remote server. There is no individual control for different files. I'll often use this since I want to strip relaxed permissions that were OK on my laptop, when copying to a remote deployment, for example.
    – slm
    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:41
  • @jaime - the --no-same-permissions is correct as well according to tar's man page. I've changed the prompts in my example so there is no confusion on that.
    – slm
    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:44

I wrote a small script for the task in Python. You can do python script.py -p o+r some files some/dir/on/the/server/

import subprocess
import sys
from optparse import OptionParser

DEFAULT_SERVER = 'your.server.com'

parser = OptionParser()

parser.add_option("-p", "--permissions", action="store", 
                     type="str", dest="perm", metavar="PERM",
                     help="chmod files to PERM", default=None)
parser.add_option("-s", "--server", action="store", 
                     type="str", dest="serv", metavar="SERVER",
                     help="scp to SERVER", default=DEFAULT_SERVER)

options, args = parser.parse_args()
files = args[:-1]
direct = args[-1]

proc = subprocess.Popen(['scp'] + files + ['%s:%s' % (options.serv, direct)],
                        stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
if proc.wait() != 0:
    print >>sys.stderr, "Uploading failed!"

if options.perm is not None:
    arg_dict = dict(dir=direct, perm=options.perm, files=' '.join(files))
    proc = subprocess.Popen(['ssh', options.serv, 'cd %(dir)s;'
                             'chmod -R %(perm)s %(files)s' % arg_dict],
                            stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
  • 3
    Do you mind posting your code at Code Review. There could be nice suggestions there for how it can be improved.
    – tshepang
    Jul 21, 2011 at 13:38
  • 1
    Wow, I never heard of the new SO site, Code Review, ty @Tshepang! Aug 1, 2014 at 18:52
  • 2
    @AnneTheAgile it's not that new; it's over 3 years old :)
    – tshepang
    Aug 1, 2014 at 20:55

I would suggest setting up sticky bit on the folder so that the files you upload under that folder gets that permission automatically.

chmod 1644 dir

"1" used above sets the sticky bit.

so you only have to upload one and not have to run another command afterwards.

  • Can someone explain how this would workl, please?
    – Mawg
    Oct 20, 2016 at 8:47

Assuming you are uploading to a UNIX variant, I think that the permissions ought to follow your UMASK settings. I don't recall off the top of my head which dot-files get processed for SCP, but if you set your UMASK in one of those the files you create will have it's permissions set based on it. It probably depends on what shell you use on the remote system.

Whatever you do, don't use the -p option as it does the exact opposite of what you want.

  • Nope. -p is not what I wanted because I need different permissions on the server(yes it's an UNIX) than on my local machine. I could of course chmod them, use -p and then chmod them back, though I'd need to store the permissions then. Oct 11, 2008 at 17:05
  • I wasn't suggesting that you use -p, just confirming that you were. I'll clarify my post.
    – tvanfosson
    Oct 11, 2008 at 17:18

Pipe the file to ssh and use umask and cat on the remote site:

cat local-file | ssh user@remote-host 'umask 077; cat > remote-file'

This is better than changing the mode after the transfer. If you want to reduce the permissions, you will have a security problem during the transfer, because scp will create the file without the restriction. If you set the umask correctly, the file will be created directly with correct permissions.

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