Fix The Permission Issue When Operation Can't Be Completed

Cassie Xie
Last updated: Jun 7, 2024

This article will explain the reasons and solutions when you encounter the "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission" error on Mac. Read to know how to successfully change the permission settings for a file, folder, or disk on a Mac.

Mac computers allow you to configure various permission settings for files, folders, and disks. These settings control who can view and modify content on the computer, which is crucial for multi-user environments. Proper permissions ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive information and make changes.

However, you might encounter an error message stating, "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission," when attempting to change the permissions for a file, folder, or disk in the Sharing & Permissions settings. This can be particularly frustrating when you need access to specific data or disks.

Don't worry. This article will explain what triggers the "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission" error and provide troubleshooting steps to resolve it.

[Solved] The Operation Can't Be Completed For No Permission

Why Don't You Have the Necessary Permission to Change Permission Settings?

The error message "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission" on a Mac typically means that the user account you are using does not have the required permissions to perform the action you are attempting. This can happen for several reasons:

Restricted file or folder permissions

Believe it or not, the reason you see "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission" when trying to adjust the permission settings in Get Info can be very simple—you didn't click the small yellow lock icon to unlock the settings with an admin account before attempting to change the privileges for different user accounts. The "necessary permission" refers to the authorization from an admin account on Mac.

If you are logged in as a standard user, you may not have the necessary privileges to change permissions for disks, files created by other user accounts, and data in the Shared folder.

Resticted file permission on Mac

Company control

If your Mac is managed by an organization, the system administrator might set up a profile that prevents users from changing permissions for files, folders, and disks on Mac. This profile enforces security policies to protect sensitive data and ensure system integrity.

As a result, you may encounter limitations when trying to adjust permission settings, even if you have admin rights. In these situations, you’ll need to contact your system administrator for assistance or to request permission changes.

Disk ownership issue

Mac allows users to take ownership of a disk or volume. The owner can set permissions for other users and change file attributes. If a disk or volume is owned by a specific user and you are not an administrator on this Mac, you may lack the necessary permissions to modify read, write, or execute settings.

If you need to change permissions but are not the owner or an administrator, you will need to request assistance from the disk's owner or an administrator. They can adjust the settings to grant you the necessary permissions.

Macintosh HD protection

macOS includes a feature called System Integrity Protection (SIP) that restricts access to certain system files and folders to prevent malicious software or unauthorized users from modifying them. Even if you are logged in as an admin or have the necessary credentials, you cannot adjust the access permissions of the Macintosh HD volume in Finder.

You don't have permission to modify access permission to Macintosh HD

How to Bypass The Operation Can't Be Completed Because You Don't Have the Necessary Permission

Now you understand the causes of the "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission" error, it is time to get past it and change the permissions successfully.

Solution 1. Provide admin account credentials

Even if you're logged in as an admin, you often need to enter your admin username and password to allow changes in permissions. Here is how to change permission for files, folders, or disks with the necessary permission:

Step 1. Right-click on the item you want to adjust permissions for.

Step 2. Choose Get Info.

Change permissions in Get Info on Mac

Step 3. Scroll down to find Sharing & Permissions. If the information in Sharing & Permissions isn’t visible, click the arrow to expand it. Step 4. Click the yellow lock icon at the bottom right, enter the username and password of an admin account, and click OK.

Unlock permission settings on Mac

Step 5. Change permissions for files, folders, or disks as you need. For example, you can select a user or group in the Name column, click the pop-up menu, and then choose a privilege setting.

Step 6. Click the yellow lock icon again to save changes.

Solution 2. Ignore ownership of a disk or volume

If the disk owner is unavailable to help you alter permissions, you can use an admin account. Administrators can override permissions and take ownership of files and folders, giving them full control over the disk.

Here is how:

Step 1. On your Mac, log in with an administrator account.

Step 2. Open the Finder app.

Step 3. Select the disk or volume from the sidebar, right-click on it, and choose Get Info.

Step 4. Click the arrow next to Sharing & Permissions to expand that section.

Step 5. If the lock at the bottom right is locked, click it to unlock the permissions.

Step 6. Select the "Ignore ownership on this volume" checkbox.

How to ignore ownership on a disk or volume on Mac

Step 7. Click the lock again to save the change.

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The error message "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission" indicates that you lack the appropriate access rights to change permissions for files, folders, or disks on your Mac. This could involve administrative privileges, disk ownership, or system alteration permissions.

To gain the necessary permissions to perform the operation, you should unlock the permission settings using an admin account or log in as an administrator of the Mac.

Cassie has been writing about technology for her entire career life - over 5 years. She enjoys diving into how Apple products work and then breaking it down in a way anyone can understand.