[R] "cannot change working directory"

R. Michael Weylandt michael.weylandt at gmail.com
Wed Mar 21 17:59:13 CET 2012

list.dirs() will list the directories in that file exactly as R sees
them. If you are getting can't change working directory messages I can
only think of two reasons:

i) File permissions (though that's unlikely to get messed up unless
there's someone around who knows how to do that in the first place)
ii) You don't actually have the right wd name.

So like I said, please give the output of

list.dirs("/Users/user/Desktop/Recorded results/", recursive = FALSE)

and then try something like

setwd(list.dirs("/Users/user/Desktop/Recorded results/", recursive =

where XXX is the number of the path that gives the Wednesday files.
normalizePath() might also help.

If you really want to check the file permissions route, this will be a start

system("ls -hFGlxo /Users/user/Desktop/Recorded results")

but you'll probably need some help to interpret the output.


On Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM, Carmela Friedman
<dashmisafta at gmail.com> wrote:
> could you explain what that is please? i am new to R
> On 21 Mar 2012, at 16:27, R. Michael Weylandt wrote:
>> Scratch that -- while true, it doesn't seem to cause that error message.
>> Can you do this?
>> list.dirs("/Users/user/Desktop/Recorded results/")
>> Also, are you sure you have various access permissions to the Wednesday folder?
>> Michael
>> On Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 12:25 PM, R. Michael Weylandt
>> <michael.weylandt at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> If you are on a mac, you don't need to escape spaces within setwd():
>>> e.g., on my machine,  setwd("~/Desktop/Current Semester") works just
>>> fine.
>>> Michael
>>> On Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 12:08 PM, mela <dashmisafta at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Hi,
>>>> I need to write  program to run some results from an experiment. i have the
>>>> results saved in 2 different files, named "tuesday" and "wednesday" (both
>>>> located within the same file). when i wrote the program for "tuesday" i had
>>>> no problem running it, but when i changed the work directory to wednesday i
>>>> got the "cannot change working directory" message. I don't understand what's
>>>> different between the two.
>>>> my first code was:
>>>> setwd("/Users/user/Desktop/Recorded\ results/tuesday")
>>>> and my second code is:
>>>> setwd("/Users/user/Desktop/Recorded\ results/wednesday")
>>>> and i copied the exact location from the terminal, so i can't have typos (i
>>>> am using a mac, if that makes any difference).
>>>> any suggestions? i will be grateful for any insight.
>>>> thanks
>>>> mela
>>>> --
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