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Create a GUI Finder with root access Desktop
[Editor's note: I highly recommend that you do not use a root-enabled GUI Finder unless you really really know what you're doing. It's easy to do Very Bad Things to your system without truly intending to do so. With that warning, this is actually a fairly interesting trick. Use at your own risk, of course!]

I had to move around a bunch of files in the /usr directory and I really loathe using mv and cp in the CLI. It's so cumbersome! Of course, you can't drag-and-drop, because the user you're logged in as has no write privileges to /usr. There's a simple way around this, however.

Read the rest of this article if you're interested in creating a root-access Finder.

Open a Finder window in Column View. Type Command-Tilde or choose "Go To Folder" from the Go menu. In the sheet that comes down, type /System/Library/CoreServices. You'll see two Finders there. Click on one of them (just one click!) and make sure it doesn't say "Classic Application" in the preview pane. If it doesn't, then that's the one you want. Option-drag it to the desktop (because you want to duplicate it).

Now rename that app RootFinder or something. Move it to your /Applications directory. That's all the setup; the only part you have to repeat is from here on in.

Open the terminal. Type:
%> cd /Applications
%> sudo open -a
(Note: the '%>' is the prompt; don't type that!)

Enter your admin password at the prompt. Note that your desktop picture will change, and a new default Finder window will pop up. Your original Finder windows or other running apps won't be affected, however. Now, you CANNOT move files from one Finder to the other, but as long as you're using only the root finder (opening new windows will open them as root finder, obviously), you have full root access to the bowels of your system and you can browse directories and copy/move files much more easily.

To get back to where you were, open the Terminal again. Type "ps auxc | grep Finder" and then "sudo kill [PID]" and enter the PID of the Finder. The Finder will automatically relaunch in your original account, and your desktop picture will change back.

According to my tests, this does not affect stability at all, but it boosts productivity considerably!

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Create a GUI Finder with root access | 10 comments | Create New Account
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Authored by: Anonymous on May 15, '01 07:13:47PM

Thanks for adding the disclaimer + formatting, rob.

I'll have to remember to do that next time. BTW, I also should have mentioned that this is a *trick*, and if you can use mv and cp then it's preferable that you use those instead of launching a root Finder.

Basically, this is a little bit safer than just plumb logging in as root (via GUI) because *only* the Finder process is running as a root application.

So enjoy the trick, but be *careful*! You can seriously hose your machine in root (unwittingly), and GUI access only makes it easier...

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Use the dock to switch.
Authored by: Anonymous on May 16, '01 04:52:58PM

Stick the rootfinder in your dock with a custom icon, then you can switch between the finders as you need to. Having a separate desktop picture for the rootfinder keeps you from getting confused as to which finder you are in.

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Kill the RootFinder #2
Authored by: Anka on May 16, '01 05:10:39PM

I´m know noting about UNIX, so i´m a little scared everytime I try the commandline.
But I was temted to try this one. All I want to add is that you can "kill" the RootFinder just by using the "alt, command,escape"- buttons, choose the RootFinter and select "Force Quit". Then you are back in the normal Finder.

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Perfected method
Authored by: Meeker on Oct 22, '01 03:46:33PM

To set up your computer to run two finders at the same time, one finder being the root finder, is easy. First you need to make a copy of the finder. The finder can be found in System/Library/CoreServices. Once you located the finder you need to duplicate it. Move the duplicated finder wherever you want it, rename it to something like "root finder", and change the icon. Then put the new finder into the dock. This will allow you to switch back and fourth between finders. Next, download a program called Skeleton Key. It can be found at . It will allow you to run the new finder as root. Put skeleton key into the dock. Then all you have to do is drag the new finders icon onto the Skeleton Key icon in the dock. Type in your administer username and password and there you go. You may want to change the root finders background so you don't get confused as to which finder you are using. To quit the root finder just press option+command+escape and force quit the root finder. Note: if you have a window open in either of the finders you may not be able to switch between them. Just close the windows to switch.

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Doesn't work anymore
Authored by: Meeker on Nov 19, '01 01:21:07AM

This hasen't worked for me ever since I updated to 10.1.1

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a modification does in 10.1.5
Authored by: pink on Aug 23, '02 02:49:27PM

in 10.1.5 if you type (in the terminal):
% sudo nice /System/Library/CoreServices/
you start a root finder (you can stop it simply with ctrl-C). It has the same properties as described above.

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Create a GUI Finder with root access
Authored by: osxpounder on May 21, '03 10:43:40AM

My OSX 10.2.5 tells me I can't copy this item, so the whole procedure stops right there.


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Create a GUI Finder with root access
Authored by: octothorn on Apr 14, '05 03:07:01PM

Nope, still easy. Using Mac OS 10.3.8 I can just drop into the shell and do:

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/
and away I go!

I can do my switching through the command-option-esc force-quit window, and force-quit or relaunch finders as I like as I go. It's easy.

If you like, you can download tinker tool and add a Quit option to the finder in both your user and root accounts, it makes clean switching easier. Just quit the finder from the menu, then launch the root finder using the CLI line above. The reverse is easier, just quit the root finder from the menu, and launch the user finder from the dock.

Have fun.

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Create a GUI Finder with root access
Authored by: atonaldenim on Apr 23, '09 12:41:51PM

Perhaps a simpler way to go about this is to directly run the Finder executable using sudo.

At the terminal, type this command: sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/

sudo will prompt for your password, then will re-launch Finder with root privileges. Keep the Terminal window open while you do whatever Finder tasks you need to accomplish as root. When you want to end the root Finder session, click back on the Terminal window and type ctrl-c. This will kill the root Finder session, and your normal user's Finder should re-launch itself.

You can create a shell script to make this command easier to run in the future. Here's an very simple example bash script:

echo "*** You are running Finder as root! ***"
echo Type ctrl-c in the Terminal window to end session.
sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/

Save this script as a plain text file in the /usr/bin directory, its filename will be the command you use to run it, such as rootfinder. Give it the executable permission with the command sudo chmod a+x /usr/bin/rootfinder .

Now you can just start the Terminal and type rootfinder to run Finder as root. Again, leave the Terminal window open while you use Finder, and type ctrl-c in Terminal when you're ready to quit.

Works great in Leopard!

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Create a GUI Finder with root access
Authored by: paulw on May 08, '09 09:27:42AM
Following on the heels of the atonaldenim, I wanted a way to be sure I didn't forget to disable the root finder when I was done with it. I also noticed that if I ran the command more than once, Activity Monitor would show more than one instance of a Finder owned by root, so I wanted to make sure I could kill every instance of the root Finder when I was finished. So I made a newbie-level applescript with a little bit of pre-newbie-level shell commands inside. This applescript starts a root enabled Finder, asks for your password, and leaves a dialog box open that asks you if you want to quit root Finder. When you press "Quit", it kills every instance of root Finder but leaves your user Finder untouched.
do shell script "sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/ >/dev/null 2>&1 &" with administrator privileges
set ask_quit to display dialog "Quit Root Finder?" buttons {"Quit"}
if button returned of ask_quit is "Quit" then
	do shell script "killall -u root -c Finder >/dev/null 2>&1 &" with administrator privileges
end if
The script can be saved as an app from script editor, or in my case I run it as a script from Launchbar. I don't know much about the security of passing my admin password through applescript, but I assume since the system itself and not the applescript calls for your password, my thought was that there's not a security issue there...

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