Say goodbye to repairing file permissions in El Capitan

Repairing file permissions has long been a standard practice of many old-time Mac users. Debates have raged about its efficacy, but the bottom line is there's always been a way to do it in Apple's Disk Utility app, and if Apple lets you do it it, it must be okay, right? That changes with Disk Utility in El Capitan. Let's take a look.

S.G. writes:

"I was just shocked by Disk Utility changes. No more verify/repair permissions option or disk? Seems like it has no utility anymore."

S.G.'s talking about Disk Utility 15, the new version of Disk Utility included with OS X El Capitan. El Capitan was released on September 30, 2015.

El Capitan works with Macs built since 2007, so there's a good chance you're on a Mac that can run it, if you aren't already. There are a lot of productivity and performance enhancements this time around, so make sure to check out Rene's review for more details:

Disk Utility is an essential tool in the Utilities folder, but if you've never gone near it, not to worry — many Mac users never do. But if you've had to reformat or repartition a hard drive, mount or create a disc image, repair disk permissions or perform other disk "first aid," you have probably opened it.

S.G. noticed that there's no option anymore to verify or repair disk permissions. But that doesn't mean Disk Utility has been hobbled. That's because El Capitan makes some essential changes to the way it handles files.

Manual disk permission repair simply isn't necessary anymore. El Capitan automatically repairs file permissions during software updates and changes. So don't worry that the repair permissions option isn't available in Disk Utility anymore. It's become redundant, thanks to improved file integrity in El Cap.

Honestly, it was an open question if repairing file permissions has had a real benefit, at least for the past few releases of OS X. It was one of those old-school remedies that was offered as a cure-all for all sorts of problems, but rarely actually did anything.

Users of Macs before the modern age may remember "rebuild your Desktop" as a common troubleshooting refrain. "Repair disk permissions" has likewise been relegated to the trash-heap of history.

As an aside, Disk Utility looks very different in El Capitan than it did in previous OS X releases. Here's a screenshot of what Disk Utility looked like in Yosemite:

And here's what it looks like now:

So much of El Capitan's focus has been to improve efficiency and performance. This is evident in Disk Utility, too. The interface has been reworked to be clearer and more straightforward, and the application's functions are all available at the press of a button.

If you have a need to use Disk Utility, feel free to snoop around and check out the changes in El Capitan. You may be impressed by its simplified interface and improved easy of use. If not, don't worry about it. Most of us can continue to use our Macs quite happily without ever messing with it.

Peter Cohen