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ACCESS(2) System Calls Manual ACCESS(2)


access, eaccess, faccessatcheck accessibility of a file


Standard C Library (libc, -lc)


#include <unistd.h>

access(const char *path, int mode);

eaccess(const char *path, int mode);

faccessat(int fd, const char *path, int mode, int flag);


The () and eaccess() system calls check the accessibility of the file named by the path argument for the access permissions indicated by the mode argument. The value of mode is either the bitwise-inclusive OR of the access permissions to be checked (R_OK for read permission, W_OK for write permission, and X_OK for execute/search permission), or the existence test (F_OK).

For additional information, see the File Access Permission section of intro(2).

The () system call uses the effective user ID and the group access list to authorize the request; the access() system call uses the real user ID in place of the effective user ID, the real group ID in place of the effective group ID, and the rest of the group access list.

The () system call is equivalent to access() except in the case where path specifies a relative path. In this case the file whose accessibility is to be determined is located relative to the directory associated with the file descriptor fd instead of the current working directory. If faccessat() is passed the special value AT_FDCWD in the fd parameter, the current working directory is used and the behavior is identical to a call to access(). Values for flag are constructed by a bitwise-inclusive OR of flags from the following list, defined in <fcntl.h>:

The checks for accessibility are performed using the effective user and group IDs instead of the real user and group ID as required in a call to access().

Even if a process's real or effective user has appropriate privileges and indicates success for X_OK, the file may not actually have execute permission bits set. Likewise for R_OK and W_OK.


Upon successful completion, the value 0 is returned; otherwise the value -1 is returned and the global variable errno is set to indicate the error.


access(), eaccess(), or faccessat() will fail if:

The value of the mode argument is invalid.
A component of the path prefix is not a directory.
A component of a pathname exceeded 255 characters, or an entire path name exceeded 1023 characters.
The named file does not exist.
Too many symbolic links were encountered in translating the pathname.
Write access is requested for a file on a read-only file system.
Write access is requested for a pure procedure (shared text) file presently being executed.
Permission bits of the file mode do not permit the requested access, or search permission is denied on a component of the path prefix.
The path argument points outside the process's allocated address space.
An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.

Also, the faccessat() system call may fail if:

The path argument does not specify an absolute path and the fd argument is neither AT_FDCWD nor a valid file descriptor.
The value of the flag argument is not valid.
The path argument is not an absolute path and fd is neither AT_FDCWD nor a file descriptor associated with a directory.


chmod(2), intro(2), stat(2)


The access() system call is expected to conform to IEEE Std 1003.1-1990 (“POSIX.1”). The faccessat() system call follows The Open Group Extended API Set 2 specification.


The access() function appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX. The faccessat() system call appeared in FreeBSD 8.0.


The access() system call is a potential security hole due to race conditions and should never be used. Set-user-ID and set-group-ID applications should restore the effective user or group ID, and perform actions directly rather than use access() to simulate access checks for the real user or group ID. The eaccess() system call likewise may be subject to races if used inappropriately.

access() remains useful for providing clues to users as to whether operations make sense for particular filesystem objects (e.g. 'delete' menu item only highlighted in a writable folder ... avoiding interpretation of the st_mode bits that the application might not understand -- e.g. in the case of AFS). It also allows a cheaper file existence test than stat(2).

September 15, 2014 Debian