For example, below we see a website directory, and that the write permission for group is emphasized (in orange):

enter image description here

No emphasis when the group of the file doesn't have write permission, for example, the parent directory ..

What does the emphasis indicate? Does it indicate insecure configuration? a warning? or something else? Should I worry?

  • 1
    Not sure what it means, but you might try C-u C-x = with point on one of those ws, in the buffer that pops up there should be the face used listed near the bottom which might give a hint as to what it means.
    – npostavs
    Jul 6, 2017 at 20:32
  • @npostavs I tryed it, and the documentation says "Face used to highlight permissions of group- and world-writable files.", so... it is just exactly what it seems to be, it must be a way of warning possibly insecure permissions, but in my case (for example) I know why I set permissions this way, so I am fine.
    – mikl
    Jul 6, 2017 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


w is highlighted for others than yourself only to make sure you notice it, as it was deemed important to bring to your attention (more important than highlighting the other permissions or w for yourself).

The face used is called dired-perm-write, and its doc string tells you:

Face used to highlight permissions of group- and world-writable files.

I proposed to Emacs dev what Dired+ offers, which is (by default) to color each permission (r, w, etc.) differently. That was rejected, but they at least agreed to highlightingw`.

Vanilla Emacs was quite conservative about highlighting stuff (it still is, but less so).

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