13 Replies Latest reply: Feb 23, 2010 9:37 AM by ChipMcCormick
samadore Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Hi,
My Mom upgraded from a Windows system to an iMac with Snow Leopard. She had the people at the Apple store where she bought the iMac transfer her files (pictures, etc.) from her Windows XP system to the new Snow Leopard OS. These files were all dumped into a /Users/username folder. I want to put them in their appropriate locations in her user account (e.g. pictures into iPhoto, documents into Documents, etc.), but I've noted that for the files in the user account the people at Apple created to dump her old files in, the 'Get Info' window under 'Sharing & Permissions' shows a user named '_unknown' with Read and Write privileges and who can't be deleted. Also on some of the transferred files, my Mom's user account is listed twice in the 'Sharing & Permissions' section and I'm unable to delete either one of the duplicated entries. I would very much appreciate any help in 'cleaning up' these permissions before 'scattering' these currently contained files all over her system.

iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • 1. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    V.K. Level 9 Level 9 (56,120 points)
    run the following terminal command (copy and paste please)

    sudo chown -R `id -un`:`id -gn` ~


    you'll have to enter your admin password (which you won't see). that's normal. ignore the scary warning about using sudo.
    this will make your user the owner of everything in your home directory as it should be.
  • 2. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    samadore Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    First, thanks for the speedy reply. Not trying to be difficult, but just want to clarify before running a 'sudo' Terminal command which I always (given my ignorance of the subject) approach with some trepidation. As things stand now, there are two user accounts activated under 'Accounts' in System Preferences (an Administrator account and my Mom's user account). As well, there is a user directory in /Users which was created by the Apple techs during the transfer of her Windows files. It is only the files in this last directory which have the problematic permissions. Will your terminal command adversely affect permissions in either the Administrator account or my Mom's user account? You say it will "make your user the owner of everything in your home directory". Just not clear on what that means since there are two user accounts (the Administrator and my Mom's user account). Will my Mom's account then be owner of everything in the Administator account and vice-versa? Appreciate your patience.
  • 3. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    V.K. Level 9 Level 9 (56,120 points)
    samadore wrote:
    First, thanks for the speedy reply. Not trying to be difficult, but just want to clarify before running a 'sudo' Terminal command which I always (given my ignorance of the subject) approach with some trepidation. As things stand now, there are two user accounts activated under 'Accounts' in System Preferences (an Administrator account and my Mom's user account). As well, there is a user directory in /Users which was created by the Apple techs during the transfer of her Windows files. It is only the files in this last directory which have the problematic permissions.

    that info was not included in your original post. it appeared from your post that the files are in your mother's home directory. the command is not applicable in this situation. the command does the following. it changes the ownership on everything inside the currently logged in user's home directory to be owned by that user. as such it can not hurt anything but it won't help in this case either as the files are outside the home directory. please clarify what exactly is going on. what is the folder in /users with all the transferred stuff called? is it called Shared? if not, does there exist yet another user by that name? look in system preferences->accounts. what exactly do you have there?
    but in general, you should not try to change ownership on such files. just lig into your mother's account and cope (not move) whatever you need from that directory in /Users to your mother's home directory. the copied files will automatically have correct permissions.
  • 4. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    samadore Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    In System Preferences under 'Accounts', there are two accounts - My Mom's user account and an Administrator account. Then, in /Users, there are the two directory folders for the accounts just mentioned (Mom's user account and the Administrator account), the Shared folder, AND this folder created by the Apple techs (and labelled 'maria' by them) in transferring the Windows files (they just dumped all the files off her Windows machine into this folder) and which holds those files which have problematic permissions. There is however no user account for 'maria' in System Preferences>Accounts.
  • 5. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    V.K. Level 9 Level 9 (56,120 points)
    it's very bad practice to dump stuff into Users as they did at the apple store. we can change permissions on the folder /users/maria if you really want to but as i said before, my suggestion would be to copy what you need from there to your mother's home directory whole logged in as your mother. once you copy everything you need delete the folder maria and empty trash. you'll have to authenticate with the admin password to do it.
  • 6. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    samadore Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Yes, the Apple Store manager did apologize when I called him as I didn't think that was best practice either. He did give my Mom a 10% discount off the iMac/Time Capsule purchase which was a nice gesture, but I'm still stuck cleaning this up.
    If I copy the problematic files from /Users/maria to my Mom's home directory, the '_unknown' user does indeed disappear from the 'Get Info' Sharing & Permissions pane, but it is replaced with a repeat entry for my Mom's user account which I can't delete so there are two instances of her user id listed . I guess this isn't a problem practically (or is it?), but is there any way to delete the seemingly unnecessary and unsightly second entry? If it means changing the permissions on/Users/maria first, I'd be willing to give that a try (with your guidance if possible :))
  • 7. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    V.K. Level 9 Level 9 (56,120 points)
    samadore wrote:
    Yes, the Apple Store manager did apologize when I called him as I didn't think that was best practice either. He did give my Mom a 10% discount off the iMac/Time Capsule purchase which was a nice gesture, but I'm still stuck cleaning this up.
    If I copy the problematic files from /Users/maria to my Mom's home directory, the '_unknown' user does indeed disappear from the 'Get Info' Sharing & Permissions pane, but it is replaced with a repeat entry for my Mom's user account which I can't delete so there are two instances of her user id listed . I guess this isn't a problem practically (or is it?), but is there any way to delete the seemingly unnecessary and unsightly second entry? If it means changing the permissions on/Users/maria first, I'd be willing to give that a try (with your guidance if possible :))

    it's best to leave those things alone. they are not harmful. you should be delete the second (but not the first) instance of your mother's user from the GUI info panel using the - sign. if you REALLY want to get rid of all of them it's easiest to do on the folder /Users/maria before copying.
    just run the following terminal commands from an admin account

    sudo chmod -RN /users/maria
    sudo chmod -R a+r /users/maria

    then log in as your mother and copy the things to her home folder. there will be no extra lines in the permissions panel.
  • 8. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    samadore Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Sorry to be a pain V.K. Ran the terminal commands. Logged into Mom's account. Now it won't let me open some of the folders (e.g. Pictures) in /Users/maria saying I don't have sufficient permissions. If I then just go ahead anyway and copy the Pictures folder from /Users/maria to my Mom's desktop, I can then open it, but that bloody '_unknown' user is then back under Sharing & Permissions instead of listing my Mom's account. Should I just copy the maria files to my Mom's directory and accept the double entries of my Mom's user id under Sharing & Permissions (I can't delete either one of them by highlighting them - the '-' button stays greyed out)? Is there any downside to that double listing under Sharing & Permissions?
  • 9. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    V.K. Level 9 Level 9 (56,120 points)
    samadore wrote:
    Sorry to be a pain V.K. Ran the terminal commands. Logged into Mom's account. Now it won't let me open some of the folders (e.g. Pictures) in /Users/maria saying I don't have sufficient permissions.

    you should have permissions now. run one more command just in case and then it really ought to let you copy anything you want

    sudo chmod -R a+X /users/maria


    If I then just go ahead anyway and copy the Pictures folder from /Users/maria to my Mom's desktop, I can then open it, but that bloody '_unknown' user is then back under Sharing & Permissions instead of listing my Mom's account. Should I just copy the maria files to my Mom's directory and accept the double entries of my Mom's user id under Sharing & Permissions (I can't delete either one of them by highlighting them - the '-' button stays greyed out)? Is there any downside to that double listing under Sharing & Permissions?

    as I said twice before, there is no downside to that.
  • 10. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    samadore Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    That last Terminal command did it. All looks perfect in Sharing & Permissions after copying from /Users/maria now. Thanks so much for your time, knowledge, and patience. MUCH appreciated.
  • 11. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    V.K. Level 9 Level 9 (56,120 points)
    you are welcome!
  • 12. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    bluberrie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    VK, you are a "lifesaver". I had similar system problems to samadore with regards to "_unknown" user as this was my original user account from first installation of OSX. I developed numerous problems with my account when I upgraded to Snow Leopard (that was a nightmare). The only outstanding issue from the upgrade I was left with, iDisk would not start. MobileMe support could not help me with sorting that issue and advised I contacted and purchased Apple Care. The thought of having to spend more weeks on the phone or online chat for hours in trying to resolve the issue was too much. I discovered that by creating a new admin account, iDisk would start without problems. I decided to get rid of my old admin account and start afresh - resulting in privilege issues. With thanks to your simple and effective help, I have now been able to resolve the final system problem.

    To pick your brains just once more, when carrying out the command in Terminal to set user permissions to my account, I received "Operation not permitted" on 5 word documents. I cannot manually change the permissions on these as it would appear that each file is locked - how these became locked I do not know! Similarly, I cannot unlock them from my admin account. Is there a simple way to unlock these through Terminal so that I can reset user permissions?

    Really appreciate all your help and much appreciation in advance.
  • 13. Re: "_unknown" User in Permissions
    ChipMcCormick Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks V.K. for the terminal command, it fixed all my permissions issues. I apparently did a bad job of transferring files from my older mac mini to this new machine and was then having to enter admin password with almost every file move. Question, tho, is why doesn't the "apply to enclosed items" command work when trying to change permissions folder by folder. It actually seemed to make matters worse...