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(osx section 8)
man page for chown

CHOWN(8)						    BSD System Manager's Manual 						  CHOWN(8)

NAME
chown -- change file owner and group SYNOPSIS
chown [-fhv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] owner[:group] file ... chown [-fhv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] :group file ... DESCRIPTION
The chown utility changes the user ID and/or the group ID of the specified files. Symbolic links named by arguments are silently left unchanged unless -h is used. The options are as follows: -f Don't report any failure to change file owner or group, nor modify the exit status to reflect such failures. -H If the -R option is specified, symbolic links on the command line are followed. (Symbolic links encountered in the tree traversal are not followed.) -h If the file is a symbolic link, change the user ID and/or the group ID of the link itself. -L If the -R option is specified, all symbolic links are followed. -P If the -R option is specified, no symbolic links are followed. Instead, the user and/or group ID of the link itself are modified. This is the default. Use -h to change the user ID and/or the group of symbolic links. -R Change the user ID and/or the group ID for the file hierarchies rooted in the files instead of just the files themselves. -v Cause chown to be verbose, showing files as the owner is modified. The -H, -L and -P options are ignored unless the -R option is specified. In addition, these options override each other and the command's actions are determined by the last one specified. The owner and group operands are both optional; however, at least one must be specified. If the group operand is specified, it must be pre- ceded by a colon (``:'') character. The owner may be either a numeric user ID or a user name. If a user name is also a numeric user ID, the operand is used as a user name. The group may be either a numeric group ID or a group name. If a group name is also a numeric group ID, the operand is used as a group name. For obvious security reasons, the ownership of a file may only be altered by a super-user. Similarly, only a member of a group can change a file's group ID to that group. DIAGNOSTICS
The chown utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs. COMPATIBILITY
Previous versions of the chown utility used the dot (``.'') character to distinguish the group name. This has been changed to be a colon (``:'') character, so that user and group names may contain the dot character. On previous versions of this system, symbolic links did not have owners. The -v option is non-standard and its use in scripts is not recommended. LEGACY DESCRIPTION
In legacy mode, the -R and -RP options do not change the user ID or the group ID of symbolic links. SEE ALSO
chgrp(1), find(1), chown(2), fts(3), compat(5), symlink(7) STANDARDS
The chown utility is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'') compliant. HISTORY
A chown utility appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX. BSD
March 31, 1994 BSD

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