Change Mode (chmod) Meaning: What is chmod?

    February 10, 2022

    Change Mode (chmod) Meaning: What is chmod?

    Let's clarify the exact chmod meaning! In UNIX/Linux-based operating systems, chmod refers to change mode, a command for changing file access permissions.

    Change Mode (chmod) Meaning & Purpose

    The chmod, or change mode, command allows an administrator to set or modify a file’s permissions. Every UNIX/Linux file has an owner user and an owner group attached to it, and every file has permissions associated with it. The permissions are as follows: read, write, or execute.

    Change Mode (chmod) Meaning & Application

    UNIX/Linux systems have many users. In this context, a user may refer to an individual or a system operation. UNIX/Linux identifies each user with a UID, and users may be organized into groups.

    Change Mode (chmod) Syntax & Mode Parameters

    The syntax of the chmod command is:

    chmod mode file


    chmod 720 readme.txt

    Each number in the mode parameter represents the permissions for a user or group of users:

    • The first number represents the file’s owner.
    • The second number represents the file’s group.
    • The third number represents everyone else.

    The Change Mode (chmod) Meaning & Mode Parameters Reference Table below shows the eight numbers that can be used within the chmod parameter. The rwx column specifies read, write, and execute access, offering a binary value for each operation. A "1" means "yes," a "0" means "no." If rwx reads 110, then that permission may read and write, but not execute.

    Change Mode (chmod) Meaning & Mode Parameters Reference Table    
    execute only
    write only
    write and execute
    read only
    read and execute
    read and write
     read, write, and execute

    For example, if you set your directory permissions to 720, then your permissions would function as follows:

    • The file’s owner may read, write, and execute the file.
    • The file’s group may only write the file.
    • All others cannot access the file.

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