How to run a cronjob as a specific user?

Better Stack Team
Updated on October 5, 2023

One of the features of Cron is the ability to run Cron jobs as a specific user. Sometimes you may even want to create a special user with limited privileges just to run Cron jobs. There are two methods how to run cronjob as a specific user.

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Using system crontab

Every Cron has a system-wide crontab. The system crontab is located in /etc/crontab. Here, you can find scheduled system cronjobs. You can run a custom cronjob by adding a new line in the /etc/crontab file and specifying the user who will run the command as in the following example.

#m  h dom mon dow user      command
*   *  *   *   *  someuser  echo 'Hello world!'

This will echo Hello world! in the terminal every minute.

Using user crontab

The second approach is to create a user-specific crontab and schedule a cronjob in this crontab. First, log in as the select user.

su someuser

Then create or open user-specific crontab.

crontab -e

If the user doesn't have a crontab it will create a new one and ask you to select your preferred text editor. Select your text editor and proceed to the next step.

And finally, add a cronjob in this file.

#m  h dom mon dow  command
*   *  *   *   *   echo 'Hello world!'

This will echo Hello world! in the terminal every minute.

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