Last week we further reported on the validity of Disk Utility's "Repair Permissions" as a troubleshooting routine. We also attempted to clear up some misperceptions about what the procedure does, and put out a call for success stories from readers who have used the function to solve real-world problems. A few of the more notable submissions we received:
Printer issues A number of readers reported that repairing permissions has worked to resolve a variety of printer problems. The problem here appears to be poorly written or otherwise problematic printer driver installation routines that incorrectly change permissions on critical files.
MacFixIt reader Mike Vincenti writes:
"I just got a new iMac Intel and went to install the printer driver for my Oki 5150 printer. It was great to see that they had a universal binary available for it. However, after the installation, Print Center still could not find the driver for it. Knowing that I had been installing a lot of programs into my new computer, I ran Disk Utilities repair permissions and tried setting the printer up again. Voila! The system found the driver and am printing on my new iMac.
"If you run Repair Permissions once a month it doesn't take too long at all; Maybe a full minute. I'm glad I decided to run Repair Permissions first to avoid doing unnecessary maintenance (or damage!) to my system just to get it to print."
MacFixIt reader Ron adds:
"We recently purchased several refurb G5 iMacs to replace aging 233-350 iMacs. I set them all up and everything was working fine. A co-worker came to me saying she couldn't print and several apps were not responding. She had installed about 20 3rd party apps that I was not aware of. Repairing permissions solved most, but not all, of her problems. All is well at the moment."
Application launching As we noted in our explanation of permissions repair months ago, failure of applications to launch is a problem that can sometimes be resolved by the procedure.
MacFixIt reader Kurt Tappe writes:
"I've seen Repair Permissions fix numerous woes over the years, but the most recent episode was last week when two of my users were unable to launch Adobe InDesign. The Dock icon would bounce a couple of times and then...nothing. No error, no windows, just nothing. Both of their problems were solved by repairing permissions; after performing the procedure, InDesign fired right up. Disk Utility did not find anything wrong with /Applications on their Macs, but did find (and fix) numerous issues with both /tmp and /var."
Login issues MacFixIt reader Ken Peterson reports a situation where automatic login would not properly function until permissions were repaired:
"Recently on starting my Mac G4 (OSX 10.4.5) in the morning, I got the login window, when I should have been logged in automatically under my usual user account. I tried everything imaginable to fix this. Accounts preferences showed auto-login was set to my username, but changing it and restoring the original settings did nothing. Booting from a clone of my startup volume from a month ago worked fine, so I copied its /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist to my normal startup volume, set startup to it, and restarted. Still the login window came up. I cleared all caches (deep cleaning), used AppleJack to check for corrupt prefs files, ran DiskWarrior from an external disk -- nothing. (But now I had a *very* clean machine.)
"So I thought, If a prefs file somewhere isn't taking the changes, maybe it's a permissions problem. (Yet the auto-login choice *was* being remembered -- just ignored!) So I repaired permissions on my Startup volume.
"Voila! All returned to normal immediately. Thinking back, I have no idea exactly what action caused this one file to get screwed up. Maybe an installer that added something to the Login Items list."
Nick McSpadden notes a similar login-issue case:
"I'm one of the Tech Dudes at a school in San Francisco. We use 'Repair Disk Permissions' as part of our normal maintenance/cleaning procedures. [...] The problem with Mac OS X is that there is a very large difference between the Terminal UNIX system and the Finder's interpretation of UNIX. The Finder, and indeed the whole UI, does very strange things to the UNIX underpinnings that true UNIX gurus probably aren't used to, or wouldn't expect. It doesn't necessarily handle permissions the same way, and there are all sorts of crazy things that can go wrong if the Finder doesn't get the exact permissions it needs. The Repair Permissions feature of Disk Utility is a great tool for diagnosing and repairing interface-related problems, but generally doesn't help when it comes to true disk repair or recovery.
"While I wouldn't consider it the saving grace of Mac OS X repair methods, it's certainly too important to ignore. In particular, we had one machine a while ago that wouldn't allow login to the Admin account. The other accounts were fine (including enabling root). Authentication as an admin also worked fine. However, logging into the Admin account immediately logged you back out and basically jumped you back to the Login Window.
"Repair Permissions seemed to be an enormous help in solving this issue. Turns out that the login window had had some interesting permission changes that prevented it from being able to access certain administrative functions. We ended up re-imaging the machine anyway, but the permissions repair allowed us to finally log in to the Admin account."
Previous Repair Permissions coverage:
- Repair Permissions success stories
- Another follow-up to the Repair Permissions debate
- Unravelling the Repair Disk Permissions controversy