FreeBSD find the chmod numerical value for a file or directory

Posted on in Categories , , , last updated January 24, 2016

I need to find out the numerical value of a file on a FreeBSD system. For example, get 644 instead of -rw-r--r-- for the /etc/resolv.conf file. Is there is a way to get this value in my bash shell script?

You need to use the stat command to see information about the file.


The basic syntax is:
stat file
stat [options] file


To see info about /etc/resolv.conf, enter:
$ stat /etc/resolv.conf
Sample outputs:

1314290432 258051 -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 4294967295 57 "Jan 24 01:02:44 2016" "Oct 12 16:30:41 2015" "Oct 12 16:30:41 2015" "Oct 12 16:30:41 2015" 4096 1 0x800 /etc/resolv.conf

To see verbose output (just like Linux) pass the -x option to stat, enter:
$ stat -x /etc/resolv.conf
Sample outputs:

FreeBSD stat command output
Fig.01: FreeBSD stat command output

Get the chmod numerical value for a file with stat command

Pass the -f format option to display information using the specified format as follows:

stat -f "%OLp" /path/to/file
stat -f "%OLp" /etc/resolv.conf
perm=$(stat -f "%OLp" /etc/resolv.conf)
echo "$perm"

Sample outputs:

Fig.02: Get the value directly using a stat command
Fig.02: Get the value directly using a stat command


  1. -f "Format" – Display info about file using given format.
  2. % – Format strings are similar to printf formats in that they start with %, are then followed by a sequence of formatting characters.
  3. O – Sets the fill character for left padding to the ‘0’ character, instead of a space.
  4. L – Select bits for permissions from the string form of p (last or below option).
  5. p – Display the mode of file (numercial value for file permission as in ls -lTd).

Use raw information to extract numerical value for a file

Run the following command:
$ stat -r /etc/resolv.conf | awk '{ print $3}'
Sample outputs:


You can use as follows to get last four digits:

x=$(stat -r /etc/resolv.conf  | awk '{ print $3}')
cut -c 4-8 <<<"$x"

Sample outputs:


A note about Linux user

Try the following command on Linux for the same purpose:

## Linux stat syntax ##
stat -c '%a' /etc/resolv.conf 
## Or use find command, may work on unix-like system. See find man page. ##
find /etc/ -name resolv.conf -printf "%m\n"

Sample outputs:


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