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Fix Emacs permissions on macOS Catalina
;;; package --- Fix permissions for Emacs.app on macOS Catalina
;;; Author: Artem Loenko
;;; Mail-To: <artyom.loenko@mac.com>
;;; Commentary:
;;; Code:
(defconst _default-emacs-app-plist-path "/Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/Info.plist")
(defconst _temp-buffer-name "*fixing Emacs permissions*")
(defconst _temp-buffer (get-buffer-create _temp-buffer-name))
(with-current-buffer _temp-buffer (erase-buffer))
(defun add-description-if-needed (description_key description)
"DESCRIPTION_KEY - DESCRIPTION."
(defconst read-args (list "read" _default-emacs-app-plist-path description_key))
(if (equal 1 (with-temp-buffer (apply 'call-process "defaults" nil (current-buffer) nil read-args)))
(progn
(princ (format "Missing: %s. Adding...\n" description_key) _temp-buffer)
(defconst write-args (list "write" _default-emacs-app-plist-path description_key "-string" description))
(apply 'call-process "defaults" nil (current-buffer) nil write-args))
(princ (format "Existed: %s. Skipping.\n" description_key) _temp-buffer)))
(add-description-if-needed
"NSDesktopFolderUsageDescription"
"Emacs requires permission to access the Desktop folder.")
(add-description-if-needed
"NSDocumentsFolderUsageDescription"
"Emacs requires permission to access the Documents folder.")
(add-description-if-needed
"NSDownloadsFolderUsageDescription"
"Emacs requires permission to access the Downloads folder.")
(add-description-if-needed
"NSRemovableVolumesUsageDescription"
"Emacs requires permission to access files on Removable Volumes.")
(switch-to-buffer-other-window _temp-buffer)
;;; fix-emacs-permissions-catalina.el ends here
@dive

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commented Sep 29, 2019

There are some additional privacy restrictions on macOS Catalina related to folder access. Now we have to ask for permission to access Documents, Downloads, Desktop and files on removable volumes (documentation).
The script provides the necessary descriptions to access the folders mentioned above because in some cases Catalina rejects to provide access without these changes (especially, when your sync Documents and Desktop with iCloud).

How to use

  1. Copy the code to the scratch buffer;
  2. Change the _default-emacs-app-plist-path to point to a proper place where your Emacs is installed;
  3. Evaluate the buffer (with eval-buffer in Emacs-Lisp major mode);
  4. Check the output for changes (in temporary buffer *fixing Emacs permissions*);
  5. Restart Emacs.

How to get access to the SIP protected folders

The easiest way is to call ns-open-file-using-panel and open a file from the protected folder. macOS will ask about the permission. In some cases, you can open a file directly from Emacs.app with the permission dialogue but you have to provide a full path and completions will be unavailable.

Notes

The script will convert the Info.plist from xml representation to the binary form. To convert back use the following command:

plutil -convert xml1 /Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/Info.plist
@dylanjm

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I have emacsclient running through brew services. I've run this script but my emacsclient is still blocked from the filesystem. Is there a way to get this script to work for emacsclient?

@waqarsaleem

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I granted Emacs Full Disk Access under System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> Privacy.

Clicking the app icon launches Emacs with no access to the files under my account. However, if I launch an executable from the app contents in Finder, a terminal launches which then launches the same version of Emacs but with file access. This may be because I have a already granted permission to Terminal through a popup that appeared earlier.

Running the above script does not change this situation.

GNU Emacs 26.3 (build 1, x86_64-apple-darwin18.2.0, NS appkit-1671.20 Version 10.14.3 (Build 18D109)) of 2019-09-02

@apple0012

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commented Oct 8, 2019

it doesn't work for me

@efroemling

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commented Oct 8, 2019

The ns-open-file-using-panel bit did the trick for me. However this seemed to be regardless of whether I had run the permission-fix script or not (tried it on multiple machines). I never saw any 'Emacs would like to access XXX' popups. This is on 10.15 release with homebrew cask Emacs.app.

I found that if I do File->Open (or ns-open-file-using-panel) and select ~/Documents/somedir/somefile, emacs can then see everything under ~/Documents/somedir/ (but still not ~/Documents). So to get emacs back to fully functional I had to be sure to open files at the root of the 3 special dirs: ~/Documents/somefile, ~/Downloads/somefile, ~/Desktop/somefile.

Does anyone know what we need to do to get this working better out of the box? I'm curious if it's Apple or Emacs' fault that we're not getting access permission popups by default.

@waqarsaleem

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Traversing the file system in the dialog for ns-open-file-using-panel causes my Emacs to crash. My Emacs is from https://emacsformacosx.com.

@jhirn

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I got prompted once for access and not again. Didn't need an elisp script.

Using emacs-mac via homebrew.

@waqarsaleem

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I fixed my problem by granting Full Disk Access to /usr/bin/ruby as instructed here.
https://emacs.stackexchange.com/a/53037/11143

@dylanjm

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commented Oct 9, 2019

Full disk access is working for my emacs install but won't work for emacsclient. I've granted full-disk access to ruby, emacsclient, emacs, and still won't work.

@niallor

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commented Oct 10, 2019

I had to be sure to open files at the root of the 3 special dirs: ~/Documents/somefile, ~/Downloads/somefile, ~/Desktop/somefile.

Thanks. I needed to do this too.

@roderik333

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commented Oct 14, 2019

I solved this by creating a Automator "Application": Utilities -> Run Shell Script -> exec /Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/MacOS/Emacs 2>&1

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