to commonly asked questions.

Mail permissions on attachments

Mail and Word are saying I don't have permission to open items but then will allow after a force quit.

The two things these applications have in common is that they both store items in your home folder. Mail attachments are buried in an invisible folder and word documents are usually sitting in the documents folder or desktop. A good experiment would be to drag the attachment out of mail first and onto the desktop. If it will then open directly from the desktop, that clue will point to permissions issues specifically within the mail attachment folder (hidden in the user's library folder). If it still won't open from the desktop then the permissions issue is larger ranging.

To understand permissions you should think of the computer as divided by two parts. One part, the computer owns, the other part, you own. In other words, stuff that came with the computer like Safari, Address Book, the operating system, Fonts, etc… those belong to the computer and you don't have the rights (permissions) to alter those files.

Other files like songs, pictures, emails, documents, etc… those belong to you and you can do anything you want with them. Open, close, throw them away, move them, rename them. Sometimes the permissions of an area (a folder) get confused and the computer thinks that it owns something it doesn't. This is what is happening in your example. To solve this, one should "repair permissions". This can be done a couple different ways.

1. You could boot into recovery mode and repair the disk from the disk utility.
2. You could open disk utility as normal and repair the disk from there.
3. You could find the specific folder and repair permissions to that folder.

For example. If you needed to repair permissions to the desktop, you'd open the home folder, select the desktop folder, get info:

Make sure your user has permission to read and write then select "apply to enclosed items".

This essentially tells the computer that you own the contents of that folder and you have the right to do whatever you want with them.

The first test of dragging the attachment from Mail onto the desktop goes a long way in telling where the permissions issue lies. If you have no problem opening the attachments consistantly from the desktop then the permissions should be repaired from the mail attachments folder.

~/Library/Containers/ Get info on that and repair as described earlier. To find the hidden library folder you can select GO in the menu bar from the finder and hold down the option key. The hidden library folder will then appear in the list.

If the permissions issue is broader then you could select the entire home folder, Get info, and apply to enclosed items on the entire home folder. This would take a while as your home folder is usually pretty big.
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