Blackboard - Cannot Open Word Document on MAC - User Does Not Have Access Privileges

Issue/Question

  • When a student tries to open a Word document from Blackboard, they receive 'access permission' error.

Environment

  • Word for MAC

User Role

  • Student

Cause

  • A lot of MacOS users are receiving the Grant File Access error when trying to open various file types in Office 2016. The issue typically appears when trying to open Word files, but some users have also reported the issue with Excel and Powerpoint files. 

    The Grant Acess error is caused by the updated Apple sandboxing rules. Apple now uses sandboxing to limit various actions by tying them to a specific location. Application sandboxing is very effective in preventing viruses or other malware from affecting OS files. Following the new guidelines, every application that uses custom fonts must ensure that the fonts stay exclusive to that particular application. Apple no longer allows an application to install fonts for system-wide use.

    In the event that a system-wide font gets altered along the way, it will be regarded as a security violation and will be replaced at the next update. Starting with Office 2016, Microsoft had to comply with Apple’s rules in order to be able to sell the Office suite in the App store. Microsoft provides a set of fonts specifically for their software, which will get installed in a different location.

    However, most 3rd party font utilities have not been fully updated to work with the new sandbox rules and will cause conflicts seen as security violations by MacOS. It has been confirmed that 3rd party font management apps like Suitcase, Linotype Font Explorer, Extense, or FontExplorer X are the main culprits causing the Grant Access error with the Office 2016 suite. As of now, FontBook is the only font management utility that is specifically designed to work with Apple’s new security system.

Resolution

  • Clearing the Mac OS Font Caches via Terminal 

Some affected users that have been encountering this issue with macOS 10.13 High Sierra or above have reported that the issue has been resolved after they cleaned the font caches by using the Terminal. After doing this and restarting their Mac, most affected users have reported that the Grant access error has stopped occurring.

If this scenario is applicable to your particular scenario, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Close all applications that are currently opened. To do this, press Command + Option + Escape to open the Force Quit Application window. Then, select each opened app and click on the Force Quit button.
    Force Quit all opened apps

    Note: This step is very important. Failing to do so will result in an error if an application that is using the font caches is currently opened.

  2. Once every application is closed, press Command + Shift + U to open the Utility folder and click on Terminal to start it.
     Accessing the Terminal via Utility folder
  3. Type the following command and press Return to run it:
    sudo atsutil databases -remove
  4. You will be asked to provide your account password at the prompt. Do so and press Return once again to grant the necessary permissions.
  5. When the process is complete, type exit to end your command line session, then go to File > Quit to exit the Terminal app.
  6. Restart your Macintosh and the issue should be resolved at the next system startup.
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