I want to set the default permissions for newly created directories to have r-x for others and those of newly created files (non-directory files) to have ---.

If I set the umask to 2, directory permissions get r-x but files' get r--.

I couldn't find any way to achieve what I want with umask.

Ultimately, I want others to be able to traverse the directories but not to read the content of the files. I think that is a very reasonable demand but eventually there seems to be no such setting.

  • Wait, you want no access permissions on the files at all? Not even for their owner? May 27, 2014 at 13:01
  • no. I'm talking about for others. I want to set directories to be r-x and files to be --- for others using umask. May 27, 2014 at 13:07
  • Why not do something like chmod 600 foo.bar? I know that's not using umask, but it works. May 27, 2014 at 13:10
  • I want it to be the default setting. Using chmod, it only works on the existed files and the new files and directories still be using default setting. You have to use chmod every time once you have new files. May 27, 2014 at 13:13
  • What about setting up a separate mask for files? May 27, 2014 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


If you only create directories with the mkdir command at the shell prompt, you could have:

umask 7
mkdir() (umask 2 && command mkdir "$@")

In your shell customisation file (~/.zshrc for zsh, ~/.bashrc for bash...).

That is set the umask to 7, but redefine mkdir to a function where the real mkdir is called (with the same arguments ("$@")) with a umask of 2. (note that the (...) create a subshell, so the umask 2 is only applied within that function).

  • What does "$@" stand for? I haven't seen this before. I create directories not only at the shell prompt but using java programs. May 28, 2014 at 9:22
  • 1
    "$@" provides all the arguments passed to the program. Which would be the directory name(s) passed to the mkdir function in this case. May 28, 2014 at 9:38

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