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There is a chmod command to set file permissions, but can I get file permissions in octal mode (such as 755) from the command line?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 117 down vote accepted

You can try

stat -c "%a %n" *

Replace * with the relevant directory or the exact filename that you want to examine.

From the man page of stat,

-c  --format=FORMAT
          use  the  specified  FORMAT instead of the default; output a newline after
          each use of FORMAT
%a     Access rights in octal
%n     File name


  • With files:

    $ stat -c "%a %n" ./Documents/Udev.html 
    664 ./Documents/Udev.html
  • With folders:

    $ stat -c "%a %n" ./Documents/
    755 ./Documents/


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File permissions in Linux can be displayed in octal format using Linux stat command.

Just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, Navigate to the directory where you want to find the file permissions in octal mode.

stat -c '%A %a %n' *

%A Access rights in human readable form

%a Access rights in octal

%n File name

Octal numbers and permissions

You can use octal number to represent mode/permission:

r: 4
w: 2
x: 1

For example, for file owner you can use octal mode as follows. Read, write and execute (full) permission on a file in octal is 0+r+w+x = 0+4+2+1 = 7

Only Read and write permission on a file in octal is 0+r+w+x = 0+4+2+0 = 6

Only read and execute permission on a file in octal is 0+r+w+x = 0+4+0+1 = 5

Use above method to calculate permission for group and others. Let us say you wish to give full permission to owner, read & execute permission to group, and read only permission to others, then you need to calculate permission as follows: User = r+w+x = 0+4+2+1 = 7 Group= r+w+x = 0+4+2+0 = 6 Others = r+w+x = 0+0+0+1 = 1

Effective permission is 761.

Source: http://kmaiti.blogspot.com/2011/09/umask-concept.html

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The initial 0 represent special bit too: pastebin.com/6ymkFt71 –  Braiam Jul 28 '13 at 1:45

As detailed here, you can create an alias lso that acts like ls -l but displays permissions also in octal.

alias lso="ls -alG | awk '{k=0;for(i=0;i<=8;i++)k+=((substr(\$1,i+2,1)~/[rwx]/)*2^(8-i));if(k)printf(\" %0o \",k);print}'"
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doesn't work with directories - awk: read error (Is a directory) –  techtonik Jul 25 '14 at 7:25

For portability, you can use perl:

$ perl -e 'printf "%04o %s\n", (stat)[2] & 07777, $_ for @ARGV' *.txt
0644 1.txt
0644 2.txt
0644 3.txt
0644 4.txt
0600 PerlOneLiner.txt
0664 perl.txt

If you want to notice when an error occurs, try:

perl -e '
for (@ARGV) {
    print "$!: $_\n" and next unless -e;
    printf "%03o %s\n", (stat)[2] & 07777, $_;
' *.txt
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