Changing File Ownership


chown - change file owner and group


The chown command allows you to change the ownership on any given file which will directly affect what users are able to read, write, and execute the target file.

chown [OPTION] [OWNER][:[GROUP]] [file-name]


Create a new file called chown-example.

touch chown-example

Check the current owner of the newly created file:

ls -l


touch chown-example && ls -l output

The current user student in the student group is the owner of the file chown-example.

Change File Owner

Change the ownership of the file chown-example to the root user.

sudo chown root chown-example


sudo chown root chown-example output && ls -l

The new owner of the file chown-example has been changed to the root user. However the chown-example file still falls within the student group.

Change File Group

To change the group of a file chown requires an additional argument:

sudo chown :root chown-example


sudo chown :root chown-example && ls -l output

You are able to add a : to the chown argument to change the group of a file.


The chown command also allows you to change the user and group ownership with one command. student-group-chown

sudo chown student:student chown-example

The first argument of the chown command (prior to the :) designates the file owner. The second argument designates the desired group.


  • chown command
    • allows you to change user and group ownership of a file
    • chown [OPTIONS] file-name
    • chown new-user file-name: changes user ownership
    • chown :new-group file-name: changes group ownership
    • chown new-user:new-group file-name: changes both user and group ownership with one command