install - macOS


The install command on macOS is used to copy files and set attributes such as ownership, permissions, and directory mode. It is most commonly used in software build processes to copy programs and scripts to their final destinations, ensuring proper access rights. It is a crucial tool for administrators and developers who need to automate deployment tasks.


The basic syntax of the install command is as follows:

install [options] source destination
install [options] source... directory
  • source: The file(s) to copy.
  • destination: The target file or directory.


  • -c: Copy the file. This is generally not necessary as copying is implicit.
  • -d: Create directories. Missing parent directories are created as required.
  • -g group: Set the group ownership of the installed file or directory to group.
  • -m mode: Set the permissions of the file to mode, which can be a symbolic or octal representation.
  • -o owner: Set the ownership of the file to owner.
  • -s: Strip symbols from binary executables.
  • -v: Verbose mode. Output name of each installed file.


  1. Copying a File with Specific Permissions:

    install -m 755 /path/to/source /usr/local/bin/program

    This command copies a file from /path/to/source to /usr/local/bin/program and sets the permissions to 755 (read, write, and execute by owner; read and execute by group and others).

  2. Creating a Directory:

    install -d -m 755 /path/to/new_directory

    This creates a new directory with permissions set to 755.

  3. Installing with Ownership:

    install -o root -g wheel -m 755 /usr/local/bin/

    This copies to /usr/local/bin/ with owner root, group wheel, and permission 755.

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: Users often encounter permission issues if they don’t have the necessary rights to write to the target directory.
    • Solution: Run install with sudo to gain elevated privileges.
  • Missing Destination Directory: If the target directory does not exist and the -d flag is not used, install will fail.
    • Solution: Ensure the target directory exists or use the -d option to create it.


Combine install with shell scripts or makefiles to streamline the deployment of software. For example, in a makefile:

	install -m 755 build/myapp /usr/local/bin/myapp

This is an effective way to automate software deployment during the build process.

  • cp: Copy files and directories.
  • mv: Move or rename files and directories.
  • chmod: Change file mode bits.
  • chown: Change file owner and group.

For more detailed information, you may refer to the man pages on your macOS system (man install), or visit Apple’s Developer Documentation.