The umask utility is used to control the file-creation mode mask, which determines the initial value of file permission bits for newly created files. The behaviour of this utility is standardized by POSIX and described in the POSIX Programmer's Manual. Because umask affects the current shell execution environment, it is usually implemented as built-in command of a shell.
Meaning of the mode mask
The mode mask contains the permission bits that should not be set on a newly created file, hence it is the logical complement of the permission bits set on a newly created file. If some bit in the mask is set to
1, the corresponding permission for the newly created file will be disabled. Hence the mask acts as a filter to strip away permission bits and helps with setting default access to files.
The resulting value for permission bits to be set on a newly created file is calculated using bitwise material nonimplication (also known as abjunction), which can be expressed in logical notation:
R: (D & (~M))
- Linux does not allow a file to be created with execution permissions, in fact the default creation permissions are
777for directories, but only
- On Linux, only the file permission bits of the mask are used - see . The suid, sgid and sticky bits of the mask are ignored.
For example, let us assume that the file-creation mode mask is 027. Here the bitwise representation of each digit represents:
0stands for the user permission bits not set on a newly created file
2stands for the group permission bits not set on a newly created file
7stands for the other permission bits not set on a newly created file
With the information provided by the table below this means that for a newly created file, for example owned by
User1 user and
User1 has all the possible permissions (octal value
7) for the newly created file, other users of the
Group1 group do not have write permissions (octal value
5), and any other user does not have any permissions (octal value
0) to the newly created file. So with the
027 mask taken for this example, files will be created with
||write and execute|
||read and execute|
||read and write|
||read, write and execute|
Display the current mask value
To display the current mask, simply invoke
umask without specifying any arguments. The default output style depends on implementation, but it is usually octal:
-S option, standardized by POSIX, is used, the mask will be displayed using symbolic notation. However, the symbolic notation value will always be the logical complement of the octal value, i.e. the permission bits to be set on the newly created file:
$ umask -S
Set the mask value
chmod 700, as applied by
useradd -m) sufficient, as they make all files within unaccessible to other users. Should this not be practical (for example when using Apache), and public files are stored amongst private ones, then consider restricting the umask instead.
You can set the umask value through the umask command. The string specifying the mode mask follows the same syntactic rules as the mode argument of chmod (see the POSIX Programmer's Manual for details).
System-wide umask value can be set in
/etc/profile or in the default shell configuration files, e.g.
/etc/bash.bashrc. Most Linux distributions, including Arch  set a default value of
022. You can also set umask with
pam_umask.so but it may be overridden by
/etc/profile or similar.
If you need to set a different value, you can either directly edit such file, thus affecting all users, or call
umask from your shell's user configuration file, e.g.
~/.bashrc to only change your umask, however these changes will only take effect after the next login. To change your umask during your current session only, simply run
umask and type your desired value. For example, running
umask 077 will give you read and write permissions for new files, and read, write and execute permissions for new folders.