base (version 3.6.2)

file.access: Ascertain File Accessibility


Utility function to access information about files on the user's file systems.


file.access(names, mode = 0)



character vector containing file names. Tilde-expansion will be done: see path.expand.


integer specifying access mode required: see ‘Details’.


An integer vector with values 0 for success and -1 for failure.


The mode value can be the exclusive or of the following values


test for existence.


test for execute permission.


test for write permission.


test for read permission.

Permission will be computed for real user ID and real group ID (rather than the effective IDs). This function uses the C function _access in msvcrt.dll, but was written using Win32 API functions.

Windows does not have the concept of an ‘executable file’, so this function regards directories and files with extension .exe, .bat, .cmd and .com as executable. (system and Sys.which make the same assumption.)

UTF-8-encoded file names not valid in the current locale can be used.

Please note that it is not a good idea to use this function to test before trying to open a file. On a multi-tasking system, it is possible that the accessibility of a file will change between the time you call file.access() and the time you try to open the file. It is better to wrap file open attempts in try.

See Also for more details on permissions, Sys.chmod to change permissions, and try for a ‘test it and see’ approach.

file_test for shell-style file tests.


Run this code
fa <- file.access(dir("."))
table(fa) # count successes & failures
d <- dir(file.path(R.home(), "bin"))
df <- dir(file.path(R.home(), "bin"), full.names = TRUE)
d[file.access(df, 0) == 0] # all exist
d[file.access(df, 1) == 0] # some are executable, some are not
d[file.access(df, 4) == 0] # hopefully all are readable
d[file.access(df, 2) == 0] # they may or may not be writable
# }

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