Apple has changed resetting permissions again

In the last few days, Apple has again changed its recommended procedure for resetting or repairing permissions on your Home folder.

This is a major change: the whole procedure is now different, and has to be performed in Recovery mode. Apple doesn’t state which versions of macOS this applies to, but it should be for Catalina 10.15.4 at least.

The new procedure consists of the following sequence:

  1. Start up in Recovery mode by holding Command-R.
  2. Once in Recovery mode, open Terminal from the Utilities menu.
  3. There type repairHomePermissions and press Return.
  4. That should launch the Repair Home app. Select the correct user account from those offered, and enter the admin password for that account. If that isn’t an admin account, Apple doesn’t explain what you should do.
  5. Then click on the Next button.
  6. Once that has completed, click on the Exit button.
  7. In the main Recovery mode window, select Reinstall macOS, and click on Continue to reinstall macOS in its entirety.
  8. Once that is complete, restart in normal mode.

If that procedure doesn’t resolve the problems, Apple recommends:

  1. Ensure you have a full backup of your Mac.
  2. Start up in Recovery mode again and erase your startup disk as detailed here.
  3. Reinstall macOS.
  4. In the subsequent setup, create a new and different primary admin user account with a different name.
  5. Use Migration Assistant to restore files from your previous account.

Apple’s detailed instructions are here.

If you think that is an incredibly long-winded procedure to correct the permissions on a few property lists in ~/Library/Preferences, you may instead prefer to use my free utility PermissionScanner and the procedure which I previously described, before attempting such extreme measures.

If macOS has reached the stage where you have to do that to fix permissions on a few files, then we’re all in deep trouble. Apple, you need to come up with something a tad more practical. We may all be locked down at present, but that doesn’t mean we want to spend all day tinkering with our Macs to sort them out.


To see the revised procedure, you may need to read Apple’s US version of this note here. This doesn’t appear to have propagated out to some localised pages yet, which may still show the previous version.


Apple has removed its article, and currently doesn’t appear to cover this problem at all. Thanks to Steven for pointing this out. As soon as I have any further news on this, I will update this article.