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Monday, March 28, 2016

How to Regain Access to a locked folder after you reinstall OS X

I recently did a very dumb act. I tried to install a upgrade from 10.11.3 to 10.11.4 without first ensuring that I had an up to date backup. 

I’m paying the consequences. Hunting down files and such.

I did install OS X 10.11.4 after erasing the old installation, but I made a mistake. I didn’t use the same user name as I used before. This locked me out of folders that I had easily accessed before. 

Here’s how I regained access. No, it doesn’t require you to use arcane Terminal commands You will use Terminal, but only to see what your user name is now.


First, the situation. I wanted to access a copy of my Home (or User) folder made on 10-10-2015. This is what I saw when I tried to access my Music folder from my new OS X installation:


1 Locked Music folder

When you see that red badge on a folder, OS X has locked you out. It doesn’t recognize you. What?! It’s me! But you’re not the same “me” that created that folder. 

2 I don t have permission


So  you need to right-cllicl or control-click on that folder (or go to the File Menu) and select Get Info:


3 Get Info by right clicking on folder




Now here’s where I found my error. I clicked on Get Info and I opened Terminal, because the prompt in Terminal shows your user name:


4 I have no access as thomas


Now as user “thomas” I have read and write privileges to the Music folder. 


But wait! I’m not logged in as user “thomas”. I’m logged in as “thomasbriant”. As far as OS X is concerned, that’s a completely different user. 


So how do I regain access? 


5 Clickk on the plus sign

First, click on the padlock in the lower right-hand corner of the Get Info window. 


Second, click on the “+” sign in the lower left-hand corner of the Get Info window. 


6 its thomasbriant that I want



Aha! The user “thomasbriant” is listed. So click on that name and hit Select.


7 Select Thomas Briant


Now I have access. Admittedly, it’s read-only access, but at least I can access my Music folder.


8 upgrade your privilleges to read and write


And from here, if I click on the double-headed arrows immediately to the left of “read-only” I can upgrade my privileges to read and write.


8 upgrade your privilleges to read and write


Now I have full access to that Music folder and all its treasures:


9 Full access to Music


You may disagree with  my tastes in music, but you’ll see no red “access denied” badges on these folders!

So that’s how to gain access to an otherwise locked folder.


And always, Always, ALWAYS back up before  you do an OS X upgrade. You never know when you might brick your machine.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog





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