CHOWN(1)                        User Commands                       CHOWN(1)


chown – change file owner and group


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 performs 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

-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

do not treat ‘/’ specially (the default)

fail to operate recursively on ‘/’

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

-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)

–help display this help and exit

output version information and exit

Owner is unchanged if missing.  Group is unchanged if missing, but
changed to login group if implied by a ‘:’ following 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”.

GNU coreutils online help: <>
Report chown translation bugs to


Written by David MacKenzie and Jim Meyering.


Copyright © 2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.  License GPLv3+: GNU
GPL version 3 or later <>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.



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 page is part of the coreutils (basic file, shell and text
manipulation utilities) project.  Information about the project can
be found at ⟨⟩.  If you have a
bug report for this manual page, see
⟨⟩.  This page was obtained from
the tarball coreutils-8.23.tar.xz fetched from
⟨⟩ on 2014-12-30.  If you discover
any rendering problems in this HTML version of the page, or you
believe there is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or
you have corrections or improvements to the information in this
COLOPHON (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail
to [email protected]

GNU coreutils 8.23              December 2014                       CHOWN(1)


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