man pages section 1: User Commands

Exit Print View

Updated: July 2014

chown (1g)


chown - change file owner and group


chown [OPTION]... [OWNER][:[GROUP]] FILE...
chown [OPTION]... --reference=RFILE FILE...


User Commands                                            CHOWN(1)

     chown - change file owner and group

     chown [OPTION]... [OWNER][:[GROUP]] FILE...
     chown [OPTION]... --reference=RFILE FILE...

     This  manual page documents the GNU version of chown.  chown
     changes the user and/or group ownership of each given  file.
     If  only an owner (a user name or numeric user ID) is given,
     that user is made the owner of  each  given  file,  and  the
     files'  group is not changed.  If the owner is followed by a
     colon and a group name (or numeric group ID), with no spaces
     between them, the group ownership of the files is changed as
     well.  If a colon but no group name follows the  user  name,
     that  user  is  made the owner of the files and the group of
     the files is changed to that user's  login  group.   If  the
     colon  and  group  are given, but the owner is omitted, only
     the group of the files is changed; in this case, chown  per-
     forms the same function as chgrp.  If only a colon is given,
     or if the entire operand is empty, neither the owner nor the
     group is changed.

     Change  the  owner and/or group of each FILE to OWNER and/or
     GROUP.  With --reference, change the owner and group of each
     FILE to those of RFILE.

     -c, --changes
          like verbose but report only when a change is made

     -f, --silent, --quiet
          suppress most error messages

     -v, --verbose
          output a diagnostic for every file processed

          affect  the referent of each symbolic link (this is the
          default), rather than the symbolic link itself

     -h, --no-dereference
          affect symbolic links instead of  any  referenced  file
          (useful  only  on systems that can change the ownership
          of a symlink)

          change the owner and/or group of each file only if  its
          current  owner and/or group match those specified here.
          Either may be omitted, in which case  a  match  is  not
          required for the omitted attribute

GNU coreutils 8.16   Last change: March 2012                    1

User Commands                                            CHOWN(1)

          do not treat '/' specially (the default)

          fail to operate recursively on '/'

          use  RFILE's  owner  and  group  rather than specifying
          OWNER:GROUP values

     -R, --recursive
          operate on files and directories recursively

     The following options modify how a  hierarchy  is  traversed
     when  the  -R option is also specified.  If more than one is
     specified, only the final one takes effect.

     -H   if a command line argument is  a  symbolic  link  to  a
          directory, traverse it

     -L   traverse every symbolic link to a directory encountered

     -P   do not traverse any symbolic links (default)

          display this help and exit

          output version information and exit

     Owner is unchanged if missing.  Group is unchanged if  miss-
     ing,  but changed to login group if implied by a ':' follow-
     ing a symbolic OWNER.  OWNER and GROUP  may  be  numeric  as
     well as symbolic.

     chown root /u
          Change the owner of /u to "root".

     chown root:staff /u
          Likewise, but also change its group to "staff".

     chown -hR root /u
          Change the owner of /u and subfiles to "root".

     Written by David MacKenzie and Jim Meyering.

     Report chown bugs to
     GNU  coreutils home page: <

GNU coreutils 8.16   Last change: March 2012                    2

User Commands                                            CHOWN(1)

     General help using GNU  software:  <
     Report  chown  translation  bugs  to <http://translationpro->

     Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation,  Inc.   License
     GPLv3+:      GNU      GPL     version     3     or     later
     This is free software: you are free  to  change  and  redis-
     tribute  it.   There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted
     by law.

     See  attributes(5)  for  descriptions   of   the   following

     |Availability   | file/gnu-coreutils |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted        |

     The  full documentation for chown is maintained as a Texinfo
     manual.   If  the  info  and  chown  programs  are  properly
     installed at your site, the command

          info coreutils 'chown invocation'

     should give you access to the complete manual.

     This   software   was   built   from   source  available  at   The   original
     community       source       was       downloaded       from

     Further information about this software can be found on  the
     open  source  community  website at

GNU coreutils 8.16   Last change: March 2012                    3