Is it possible to change the write permissions on a file from inside emacs, without killing/re-opening the buffer?

Sometimes I forget to modify the permissions on a file before opening it. I can modify the permissions from inside emacs (M-! chmod u+w filename) but this doesn't update the buffer which remains write protected and refuses to modify the file.

Is there a way to update permissions inside the buffer? Bonus point if I can assign this to a shortcut!

3 Answers 3


After changing the file mode, and before doing any edit, run M-x revert-buffer to reload the file. If the file is now writable, the buffer will no longer be read-only.

Alternatively, type C-x C-q (read-only-mode). This makes the buffer no longer read-only. You can edit and even save, but you'll get a confirmation prompt asking whether you want to overwrite the read-only file.

  • While C-x C-q still works, as of emacs 24.3 it now calls read-only-mode rather than toggle-read-only and toggle-read-only has been disabled.
    – Paul Rubel
    Nov 20, 2018 at 16:13

To change the read-only status of a buffer, use C-xC-q (toggle read-only-mode). To change file permissions, you can run dired on the file's directory (C-xd), search for the file by C-s and use M to change its mode.

  • 3
    Apparently, you've missed dired-jump (normally bound to C-x C-j). It runs dired and jumps to the line for the file you're editing.
    – cjm
    Sep 10, 2012 at 16:33
  • 2
    @cjm: It does not work for me unless I load dired-x.
    – choroba
    Sep 10, 2012 at 16:47
  • Sorry, I'd forgotten that I'd set up an autoload for dired-jump about 20 years ago. I recommend it.
    – cjm
    Sep 10, 2012 at 17:04
  • 1
    Annoyingly toggle-read-only has been replaced with read-only-mode, although the binding is the same. Jul 19, 2018 at 21:47

If the workflow requires to change the file permission of the buffer repeatedly, then having a custom function would help like the following.

This works only on unix machines(executes system command "chmod"

(defun chmod-plus-w ()
  (shell-command-to-string (concat "chmod +w " (buffer-file-name (current-buffer))))

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