How can I use the chown command to change the ownership of all a folder's subfolders and files?

  • 1
    chown -R should work for you. – Wayne_Yux Nov 3 '15 at 12:59
  • 2
    chown -R your_username:your_group folder – Alex Lowe Nov 3 '15 at 13:15

From chown --help:

Usage: chown [OPTION]... [OWNER][:[GROUP]] FILE...
  or:  chown [OPTION]... --reference=RFILE FILE...
Change the owner and/or group of each FILE to OWNER and/or GROUP.


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


So you need to run (probably with sudo):


Or, if the group shall be the specified user's primary group (usually same name), you can also omit the GROUPNAME and just give the USERNAME: with a colon (no space before it!). It will be set implicitly:


To only change the user and leave the group as it is, just specify USERNAME and no group name and no colon:


To only change the group and leave the owner user as it is, just specify :GROUPNAME with a leading colon:


My username is timo and I did this to take ownership to all my files and folders on home directory (transferred from another account):

~$ sudo chown -R timo /home/timo/*
chown -R <username>:<groupname> <folder>

This is how I normally do it, and I usually do this one folder at a time. Doesn't take but a few moments to work through each folder.

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