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How to Change Permissions on an External Hard Drive for a Mac

Updated February 21, 2017

A hard drive on a Mac follows the permissions guidelines set down by the OS X operating system, such as who can delete or modify a file or program copied to the drive. Change the permissions on an external Mac hard drive in just a few minutes. No software is needed because the permissions functions are built into the OS X operating system, and have been since version 10.3. The procedure is straightforward and takes just a few minutes.

Double-click on the icon of the external hard drive that is on the Mac’s desktop. Click once on a file or folder in the window that appears.

Select “Get Info” from the “File” drop-down menu at the top of the screen.

Click on the icon of the padlock in the lower-right corner of the window that appears. Enter your administration password into the “Password” column of the pop-up window that appears. Click the “OK” button to close the pop-up window.

Click on the arrow that is at the left side of the “Sharing & Permissions” tab near the bottom of the window. Change the drop-down menus below the “Privilege” tab to “Read & Write,” “Read Only” or “No Access.”

Click on the padlock icon again to lock in the changes. Close the window by clicking on the red button at the upper-left corner.

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About the Author

Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology maven with more than 15 years of editorial experience. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography with a Bachelor of Arts in photographic arts, his editorial work has appeared both domestically as well as internationally in publications such as "Home Theater," "Electronic House," "eGear," "Computer and Video Games" and "Digitrends."