When 'Save As' says you don't have permission

When using Save As, a reader keeps getting a message that they lack permission to save files. You’ve got two ways to resolve this.

save as primary

Jim Elkins is in a pickle. Since updating his Mac, he can’t save files via Save As.

I get the message: “The document could not be exported as ‘name.’ You do not have permission.”

There are two ways to work through this problem: one doesn’t require restarting, so I recommend that one first, of course! You need to fix permissions in your Home directory with an extra Terminal step at the end. Apple has the full instructions here, but here’s a recap:

  1. In the Finder, choose Go > Home.
  2. Select File > Get Info.
  3. In the Sharing & Permissions section, click the Action (gear) icon and choose Apply To Enclosed Items. (If the Sharing & Permissions section isn’t showing, click its triangle. If the gear is grayed out, click the lock icon and enter an administrative password.)
  4. Click OK to confirm, and a progress bar will appear if it takes more than a few seconds.
  5. When complete, launch Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  6. In Terminal, enter the follow and press return:
    diskutil resetUserPermissions / `id -u`
  7. Apple says if that command fails with an error, enter the following and press return and then follow step 6 again:
    chflags -R nouchg ~

If that doesn't solve the problem, you have a second option, which requires a restart so you can invoke it from Recovery:

mac 911 reset home directory permissions

The Reset Password option in Recovery mode lets you fix permissions associated with your home directory.

  1. Select  > Restart.

  2. After the Mac shuts down and makes the startup chime, immediately hold down Command-R to boot into Recovery mode.

  3. After the Recovery screen appears, select the menu item Utilties > Terminal.

  4. Type resetpassword and press Return. Don’t worry: this won’t reset your password.

  5. A dialog appears from which you can select your startup volume if it’s not selected by default.

  6. Pick your username from the Select the User Account dropdown menu.

  7. In the lower-right corner of the screen, click Reset next to the Reset Home Directory Permissions and ACLs area.

  8. Now choose File > Quit, and then in the main Recovery window, choose  > Restart.

When your system comes back up with your OS X installation, this problem should be resolved.

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