403 Forbidden in Nginx on Mac OSX

If you installed nginx on your MacOSX system using brew install nginx and if you are getting a 403 Forbidden error for static html files in your web browser on localhost, then this is usually a permissions issue. If you look at nginx error logs (usually /var/logs/nginx/error.log), you will see something like:

$ tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log 
2015/10/11 01:19:16 [error] 24181#0: *5 "/Users/amberj/Dropbox/projects/amberja.in/index.html" is forbidden (13: Permission denied), client:, server: localhost, request: "GET / HTTP/1.1", host: "localhost:8080"

In this case, many people suggested doing chmod -R ugo+x on root directory (as defined in either nginx.conf or *.conf in /usr/local/etc/nginx/).

Another solution suggested on Google suggest fixing the following line in your nginx.conf according to your system user configuration:

user  www-data;

But none of these worked for me. Then I read on some forum that one needs to do chmod -R ugo+x for all parent directories (of document root in nginx config) up until the Mac's root directory. In my case, I had put the static html file at /Users/amberj/Dropbox/projects/amberja.in and I didnt had o+x permissions on /Users/amberj/Dropbox/ directory. Bingo!

So, I checked that all of the following directories:

had o+x permissions and used chmod o+x on those directories which didnt had this permission. Then when I reloaded http://localhost:8080/, tada! There it was.. my sweet little index.html page.

Thanks to Pawan Rawal for reading early draft of this post.