make sure you have permission to write to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/

I had a problem updating my wife’s Mac recently using Software Update. I wanted to update it from OS X 10.3.8 to 10.3.9 but every time I tried I received the following error message:
“make sure you have permission to write to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/, then try again”

I was logged in as administrator and giving the admin password when prompted, so I was a little stumped until I came accross an article which gave me the answer.

What I did was:

  1. Opened up the Terminal app – Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal
  2. logged on as Root using the command “sudo su” (without the “”)
  3. typed in “CD /” to get to the root folder
  4. entered “ls -l” to see all the files and symlinks in the root folder
  5. the path to the tmp folder was incorrect so I keyed in “rm tmp” to delete the file
  6. I then created the correct symbolic link by entering the command “ln -s /private/tmp tmp”

Having created the correct path to the tmp folder, I went back to Software update, and this time the update downloaded and installed without any problems.

6 thoughts on “make sure you have permission to write to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/”

  1. Hi!, I have this problem updating the OS X 10.3.9, a window with the following error apeared: “make sure you have permission to write to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/, then try again”…I also erased the “/501” folder but nothing happened .Then I looked up for the “Terminal” program in the applications folder but I can´t find it, it’s not even in the Finder, What can I do?

  2. hi,

    i am having the same problem about writing in tmp/501/…. file.

    i am also a newbie in Terminal.

    i have followed the above suggestion but the same error appeared when i tried to install uodates.

    i am wondering if perhaps i am not closing my terminal session properly or something of that nature.

    if you have any suggestions i would be very grateful.


  3. Hi,

    I’m facing the same problem when doing updates (“make sure you have permission to write to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/, then try again)
    I’ve try to complete the 6 steps that Tom recomended but when I enter the root
    “CD /” it doesn’t work.
    Any suggestions please?



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