Friday, May 10, 2013

Set or Fix File Permissions on Android Devices

8:54 PM

You cannot taste the real flavor of the Cupcakes, Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Jelly Beans and the whole of Android kitchen unless you have root access on your phone or tablet. The power and freedom vested onto you after rooting your device unlocks the doors of a new world, far away from millions of apps found at the Google Play and sluggish and faulty firmware updates, where customization and possibilities breath and grow to give you the next-level experience with your Android device.

Being the owner of a rooted Android device puts you in an advantageous position from where you can exact the best performance out of your device. You can choose from a wide range of custom ROMs, mods, ports, Kernels, themes and patches for your Android device and thus have things as you want them to be.

The Open Source attribute of Android allows thousands of developers across the world to contribute to its development. They work hard to to produce stuff that make our mobile experience richer and convenient. It’s because of their efforts that we are able to enjoy various mods and ported apps on our Android devices.

In several cases, such mods and ports require a little effort from us too. Fixing file permission our setting an app’s Read, Write and Execute rules to get a mod or ported app to work, thus becomes a piece of knowledge all Android lovers must be familiar with. In the present tutorial, I’ll be showing you how you can set or fix a specific file’s permissions rules on Android devices.

Requirements: Since fixing permissions of an app involves entering the system of your device, the first and foremost requirement is to have root access on it. If you have rooted your Android device, you are good to go.

The next requirement is to install a good root file manager on your device. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the best root file explorers for Android devices. Personally, I prefer the Root File Browser app.

Understanding Permissions

On any UNIX or Linux based file system, every single file and folder stored on the hard drive has a set of permissions associated with it. These permissions which are also called attributes, determine the level of accessibility/permission given to a user or a group of users.

The Read-Write-Execute attributes tells the system or server who is allowed to do what with a particular files. In the same way, every file and directory also has an Owner, Group and Others associated with it. By changing these permission rules, you can direct a system or server what king of accessibility it allows to different types of peoples.

Android, being a Linux-based platform for mobile devices, also relies on this kind of permission rules in its system files. And therefore, you might need to fix/manage or edit them in certain situations.

Fixing File Permissions on Android Devices

Quick Steps for Advanced Users:
  1. Copy the file/apk  that you want to fix permissions of and copy it to your devices’  internal or external SD Card.
  2. Now copy and paste the file/apk to the location suggested by the developer. If it is an app, push it to system/app directory.
  3. Set permissions to rw-r–r–
  4. Finally, reboot your phone or tablet device.

Detailed Steps for Beginners:

If you are new to Android and are gradually learning things, you might want a detailed guide on editing file permission on Android devices. Please be warned that playing with the permission rules of system files unnecessarily and without understanding, might produce bizarre results. So here are the steps to do it:
  1. Copy the file to the internal or external SD card storage on your device by connecting it to computer using USB cable.
  2. Now open the root file explorer app from app drawer.
  3. Here you will see a list of directories and files.
  4. If you copied the file to the internal storage on your device, you can find it by opening the “sdcard” directory. To access the external storage, tap on “storage/extSdcard”.
  5. To fix or set Read-Write-Execute (r-w-e) permissions of  the file, you must copy it to a root directory (like system, data, etc.) first. You cannot fix permissions while the file is stored on SD or ExtSD card on your device.
  6. To copy the file, navigate to it and then tap and hold it. You will see a pop up window with all available options.
  7. Select “Copy” option and go to the target directory by tapping on the Home or Up icon from the bottom bar.
  8. Navigate to the location/directory when you wish to paste the file and tap on “Paste” button.
  9. Now you can easily manage the permission rules of that file. Just press and hold it and from the popup option panel, select “Permissions”.
  10. You will see a new window showing the current permission attributes or read (r), write (w) and execute(x) rules for that file. You can edit it by marking or unmarking the boxes. The most used set of permissions that various files on Android need is Owner= Read+Write, Group=Read and Others= Read. In short, we mention this rule simply as rw- r– r– where each blank space shows unmarked attribute.
  11. In case, you have a permissions rule prescribed by a developer, edit them accordingly.
So this was our simple and detailed guide about fixing permission on Android file system using a root file manager. I hope it might prove useful to you in understanding not only the term “Permissions” but also how to manipulate it. Cheers and keep visiting!

Note: If this tutorial worked for you (and it should work), please leave a comment below. Thanks.

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