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Remove Linux User From a Secondary Group ( Supplementary Groups )

Q. User tom is a member of a group called sales and printer. I'd like to remove tom from a group called printer without editing any user configuration text files stored at /etc/ directory?

A. /etc/groups file defines group membership for each user. usermod command has -G option to set a list of supplementary groups which the user is also a member of. Each group is separated from the next by a comma, with no intervening whitespace. If the user is currently a member of a group which is not listed, the user will be removed from the group.

Step # 1: Find out user group identity

Use id command:
# id -nG {user-name}
# id -nG tom


sales printer

Step # 2: Remove user from printer group

Use the following syntax:
# usermod -G {groupname1,groupname2,...} {username}
To keep membership for sales only group (remove user tom from printer group), enter:
# usermod -G sales tom
# id -nG tom



The following example remove user vivek from all groups except admin, audio, video and powerdev group:
# id -nG vivek

vivek adm dialout cdrom floppy audio dip video plugdev scanner netdev lpadmin powerdev admin

Modify group membership, enter:
# usermod -G admin, audio, video, powerdev vivek
# id -nG tom

Sample output:

vivek audio video powerdev admin

For more information, read usermod(8) command man page:
$ man usermod

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{ 18 comments… add one }

  • test March 25, 2009, 3:21 pm

    Thanks for your website.
    it’s very helpful.

  • shingai April 2, 2009, 1:42 pm

    lets say i want to add an existing user to an existing group. when the user belongs to other groups already. what command will i use.

    using usermod-g “groupname” user will change the initial gropu of the user and delete him from another group.
    usermod -G this will lead from the user being deleted ffrom all other groups except the one sspecified.

  • kailash bhandari April 25, 2009, 6:38 pm

    A user (pop)who is belong to SALES group. i want that pop is remove from SALES group. how can i do it. not tell me manually. i want command to remove it..

  • BAReFOOt April 28, 2009, 3:41 pm

    In one line (and nice for scripts):
    Add a group: usermod -aG GROUP USER
    Remove a group: usermod -G $(id -nG USER| sed -e ‘s/GROUP //’ -e ‘s/ /,/g’) USER

  • ashim June 10, 2009, 5:42 am

    Can anyone tell me command(s) to add an user to a new group without mentioning all the groups the user previously belongs to? (I haven’t gone thru man)

  • Bhagyesh Dhamecha July 15, 2009, 10:39 am

    Please add me in your group and please gime update and help for any my query..


  • cheri August 13, 2009, 6:22 pm


    I have added user to a group called sales using smbldap-usermod -G .
    How do I remove this user from the supplementary group. I was once succesful in removing the user by using the command smbldap-usermod -g . But when I give the time id -nG the supplementary group still shows up.
    Can you explain why this happens and how to overcome this problem.
    Appreciate your help


  • Mike September 23, 2009, 10:12 am

    to remove a user from one supplemental group only:-

    gpasswd -d USER GROUP

  • Mario September 23, 2009, 8:02 pm

    this dint help me

    id -nG aares00
    OutPut= aaresusers rootmembers

    gpasswd -d aares00 rootmembers
    OutPut= Removing user aares00 from group rootmembers

    id -nG aares00
    OutPut= aaresusers rootmembers

    • Rajesh R December 6, 2011, 10:22 am

      [root@localhost ~]# gpasswd -d new tes
      Removing user new from group tes
      gpasswd: unknown member new

      while trying getting this error
      need to remove new (new-user from group- tes)

    • Deyaa April 28, 2012, 8:35 pm

      You must log out then back in after removing a user from a group using gpasswd ;)

  • Chris July 17, 2010, 7:44 pm

    I don’t know if it’s available from other platforms or not, but I have this command on Arch which seems more intuitive and easier to do:

    groupmems -g [group_name] -d [user_name]

    For example, if I want to remove sally from group admins:

    groupmems -g admins -d sally

  • Andrew July 27, 2010, 5:13 pm

    lol late reply, @ ashim


  • ankit gupta October 9, 2010, 11:38 am

    Thank Dear

  • dario boring February 26, 2011, 11:53 am

    to remove all groups from user
    usermod -G “” javito

  • renato silva March 18, 2011, 12:37 pm

    groupmod -R user group

    groupmod -A user group

    • Juan Manuel May 22, 2011, 6:13 pm

      Renato, the -R argument don’t exist for groupmod command in Ubuntu. Try man groupmod.

  • Alex December 21, 2011, 4:24 pm

    If you want to add/remove a user only to/from a single secondary group, use gpasswd command

    Following your example

    Remove tom from sales group
    gpasswd -d tom sales

    Add tom to printer group
    gpasswd -a tom printer

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