The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Office of Information Technology

About OIT  |  Contact Us  |  Employment  |  Policies   

OIT HelpDesk - Knowledge Base

Search Knowledge Base:

How do I check the permission settings on files in my UNIX account?

Print Friendly and PDF

It is always important to check the permissions on files in your UNIX account. If permissions are set incorrectly, other users may be able to view files that you did not mean to share publicly.

To check your file permissions:

In PuTTY and Terminal:

After connecting to your UNIX account, in either of these clients, type the following command to view information on files in your current directory, including the file permissions:

ls –l

In WinSCP:

After connecting to your UNIX account, look at your listing of your target directory (usually your root user folder or your public_html folder). This is by default the frame on the right side of the program window. Your permissions are listed under the “Rights” column.

In CyberDuck:

After connecting to your UNIX account, ctrl+click the file whose permissions you want to view. Choose ‘Info’ in the menu that appears to see the permissions. You can also select the file and press Command+I to see the information about the file.

Permissions are listed as a set of 10 (sometimes 9) flags:

Position 1: Specifies the type of file. This position will have the character ‘d’ if the file is a directory or a ‘-‘ if it is not. In some programs, the first position isn’t displayed at all if there is a ‘-‘ in the field.

Position 2-4: Specifies the permissions for the user.

Position 5-7: Specifies the permissions for groups.

Positions 8-10: Specifies permissions for the world.

Positions 2-10 will have either a r,w,x for Read, Write, or Execute permissions. If a flag for a particular permission is not set, there will by a ‘-‘ in that field.


-rwxr--r-- : This file would have Read, Write, and Execute permissions for the user, but only read privileges for groups and world users.

drwx------ : This file is a directory in which only the owner can read, change, or execute.

Need more help?


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System