There are many reasons you may need to share the same PC with multiple users. Windows 10 is a powerful and customizable operating system and takes care of all file permissions at system level. This will help you to work safely and protect your files from other users on the same computer. However, you could face different file permission errors in Windows 10 due to various reasons. In most cases, you will see an access denied message or permission error when trying to open the files belong to other users.
You need to have an account with administrative privileges to change the ownership or permission and access these files. In this article, we will explain step-by-step process of how to change file permissions in Windows 10 to access the files and folders.
Related: View or hide files in Windows 10.
Common File Permission Errors
Here are some scenarios you may encounter the file permission error in Windows 10.
- When you have shared computers and other users setup permission for certain files which you can’t access.
- You want to access system files. We don’t recommend to edit system files as it may cause unexpected failures.
- The copied files from USB or external hard drive is protected and you want to modify on your computer.
- You want to modify files copied from other operating systems like macOS.
- You want to remove the permission of other user to prevent accessing certain shared files.
There are two ways to handle all of the above situations. When you are the owner of the file, simply change the file permission to grant or prevent access of other users. When you want to access other’s files, first you need to take the ownership and then change the file permission. Let us explain both the scenarios in further sections. Remember in both situations you need to have admin access to carry out the required steps.
1. You are Not the Owner
1.1. Take Ownership of Files or Folders
First step to access the file is to get the permission of the specific file by taking its ownership. When you have taken over the ownership of that specific file, you can easily tweak the permissions and get access. Follow the below instructions to take over the ownership of any file or folder in Windows 10.
- Press “Win + E” shortcut keys on your keyboard to open Windows File Explorer. Search and locate the file or folder you want to get full access.
- Right click on the file, select “Properties” option to open the properties dialog box.
- You will see many tabs in the properties dialog, go to “Security” tab and click on “Advanced” button.
- You will see the “Advanced Security Setting” dialog box pops up where you can view the current owner of the file. Windows will show the owner as “System” when you have selected system file. In our example, the owner of the file is “WebNots” as it is an image file created by the user. Click the “Change” link shown against the owner name.
- On the “Select User or Group” dialog box, click on “Advanced” button at the bottom.
- Next step is to find your user account to which you want to transfer the ownership permission.
- Click on the “Find Now” button and Windows will show all the usernames available on the computer.
- Check the search results and select your correct user account. Remember, the selected user account is the one you want to get ownership from the original owner.
- Click on “OK” or “Apply” button on all the open dialog boxes to save your changes.
Now, you will get the ownership of the selected file or folder to the new user. You can see the owner is showing as “Administrator” as shown below as we have changed the ownership from “WebNots” to another administrator account on the PC.
Related: How to block websites in Google Chrome?
1.2. Take Permissions of Files or Folders
After you get the ownership of the file, the next step is to get the required permissions to get full access of that file. Follow the similar process as explained above to open “Advanced Security Settings” dialog of the file.
- Click on “Add” button to add a new user.
- You will see a dialog box showing “Permission Entry for the file name”. Here you can view the current available permissions for the file.
- Now, click on “Select a Principal” link against the “Principal” field to assign permissions to another user.
- On the “Select User or Group” dialog, click on the “Advanced” button. Now click on “Find Now” button to search for the users on your computer.
- From the search result, select your user account to which you want to assign permissions, and click “OK”.
- On the “Permission Entry” dialog box, select the permissions you want to get under “Basic permissions” section. You can simply select the “Full Control” option to get all the permissions for that file.
- You can also setup advanced permissions by clicking on the “Show advanced permissions” link.
- After assigning required permissions click “OK” or “Apply” on the open dialog boxes to save your changes.
Now, you have got the required permissions for the file or folder and have necessary access control.
Remember, all files stored in the parent folder will have the same permissions as that of that folder. In case, you want to change the permissions for subordinate files, you can move over to the “Advanced Security Settings” of that specific file and make changes as explained above. Alternatively, click on the “Disable inheritance” button when you add your user name.
2. You are the Owner
If you are the owner of the file then you can change the permissions easily.
- Right click on the file or folder and go to “Properties”.
- Navigate to “Security” tab and click on “Edit” button showing against “To change permissions, click Edit”.
- On the next screen, you can select an existing users in the list or add / remove user and setup required permission for each user.
Some of us setup “Read-only” or “Hidden” attributes under “General” tab of the file or folder’s “Properties”. However, any user can easily disable these attributes. So, setting up permissions is necessary to protect inappropriate access of your content. In addition, as an administrator you can take the ownership of the files and check the content if required.
How would you give anyone access to your file? if you where public trying to set html web permissions for example
Couldn’t agree more William. I now do not have access to some applications from my user account and need to shift to another account to get access. This was never the case before. Tried altering ownership and permissions etc but this did not help and it is an extremely long winded and complex process. Also I now can no longer change any files and add files etc to my Asustor server and can’t figure out to solution to that. Make the use of a server a bit pointless. Right click on that and no security tab is present????? Not sure why I waste so much time on this stuff…….
Unfortunately, that’s how it works :-(
For the security tab issue – check this thread from MS: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/folder-security-tab-missing/3dfaf5a6-79bf-477f-a245-f399a50ea05c
I have a SYSTEM, ADMINISTRATOR, ADMINISTRATORS, but not ACCESS CONTROL ASSISTANCE to choose from in the “Select User or Group”, “Find Now”, “Search Results” Box.
However, for particular files, I have allowed access to both ADMINISTRATOR, ADMINISTRATORS, and the little icon in front of ADMINISTRATOR has a little round red mark with an X on it.
a) What does this mean?
b) Have I made a mistake?
c) How do I fix it?
Am I the only dummy here? It seems to me that Microsoft made this Permissions system as un-intuitive as possible. Do you agree, or am I a complete idiot?
[ Comment you won’t like: In my simple mind, the process ought to work as follows: Within Windows Explorer, I’d go to a particular file folder, then select those files that I want to change ownership, and from a “selection pulldown menu” I’d select my name (because I own the friggin computer, and I ought to own every file on it by default), and then I’d select OK, or GO. And the thing ought to be done. Instead we are dealing with a messy, opaque, unexplained, insane system that does not work. ]
Agreed, it is like that. Actually it should be user friendly especially if you are the admin in the system.