How to Redirect Output to a Location I Don’t Have Permission to Write Using sudo

In Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, managing file permissions is crucial for maintaining security and preventing unauthorized access. When you encounter a situation where you need to redirect output to a location that you do not have permission to write to, using sudo becomes essential. Here’s how you can effectively use sudo for this purpose:

Using sudo for Redirecting Output

  1. Understanding sudo: sudo (short for “superuser do”) is a command that allows users to execute commands with the security privileges of another user, typically the superuser or root.
  2. Example Scenario: Suppose you want to redirect the output of a command to a file located in a directory where your current user does not have write permissions, such as /var/log/syslog.
  3. Using sudo with Redirect Operators:

sudo command > /var/log/syslog

In this example:

  • sudo elevates the privileges of the command following it, allowing it to write to /var/log/syslog.
  • command is the actual command whose output you want to redirect.
  • > is the redirection operator that directs the output of command to the specified file (/var/log/syslog in this case).

4. Appending to a File: If you want to append output to an existing file, use sudo with >>:

sudo command >> /var/log/syslog

Here, >> appends output to /var/log/syslog without overwriting existing content.

  1. Permissions Consideration: While sudo allows you to bypass permission restrictions, exercise caution when redirecting output to system directories or sensitive files. Ensure that your command’s output is appropriate and necessary for the target location.

Example Usage

Let’s illustrate with a practical example. Assume you want to append the current date and time to /var/log/syslog using sudo:

sudo date +"%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S" >> /var/log/syslog

This command uses sudo to elevate privileges, allowing the date command to append the formatted date and time to /var/log/syslog.


Using sudo to redirect output to locations where you lack write permissions is a powerful capability in Unix-like systems. It enables administrative tasks and system monitoring without compromising security protocols. By understanding and responsibly using sudo, you can effectively manage file operations and maintain system integrity in Linux environments.