I had some issues with my Macbook, and I used Time Machine to recover a version of usr/bin. Unfortunately, somewhere along the process, usr/bin/sudo was removed.

Now, even if I want to recover usr/bin/sudo from a past backup, I won't have permission to write to user/bin.

How can I fix problem? I already spent a day trying to fix it.


I only have issue with usr/bin/sudo. I even have recovered version of it in another directory. I just can't write to usr/bin because I don't have right to write. So I hope I can restart my Mac in some special mode to be able to write to this directory.

  • Any information you can give regarding what was changed using Time Machine would be helpful. For example, was /usr/bin/sudo moved or renamed at some point or was it just deleted? Oct 2 '13 at 19:28
  • @JoelTaylor: does it matter? the sudo-binary is disfunctional, OP wants it back.
    – akira
    Oct 2 '13 at 19:30
  • If adamYNC, at some point, followed a process similar to forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1625829 /usr/bin/sudo could be somewhere else and it would just be a matter of executing the renamed binary. Oct 2 '13 at 19:33
  • If you don't have sudo you might still be able to start a new shell as root, like su bash. Oct 2 '13 at 19:51
  • @OliverSalzburg That won't work unfortunately.. you'd have to use sudo su. Using su alone is not possible as there's no root account.
    – slhck
    Oct 2 '13 at 19:54

Reinstall the system. Sure, it's time-consuming, but it would take less time than you've already spent.

If it's not a MacBook Air and If you have another Mac (which is also not a Macbook Air) and a Firewire cable to link them, you could start it up in target disk mode and work on it from another machine. If you don't have those things, see above - The advice was offered based on a good deal of pragmatic practical experience...you can easily spend more time getting all that together than you'd spend reinstalling.

  • I've voted this up because it's a good enough answer, but it also reminds me that one can boot off a DVD or recovery partition, which may contain a valid version of sudo that can be copied over.
    – user3463
    Oct 2 '13 at 21:58
  • 1
    Given that /usr/bin was already corrupted or had things deleted enough to need recovery, and then that went "mysteriously wrong" and ate sudo, wholesale is not a bad option, IMHO.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 3 '13 at 1:49

Can't you just use Finder to copy the sudo binary from a backup? It should keep the owner as root, and authenticating as a superuser in Finder does not require /usr/bin/sudo to exist.

If others who get here from seach engines don't have a sudo binary, you can download an OS X installer application from App Store and use Pacifist to extract the binary. Doing an upgrade install of OS X or upgrading to a new major version of OS X also restores files like /usr/bin/sudo.

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