Full access (Ownership) of files and folders in Windows 10

Windows permissionsOn old Windows systems, we could access all files and folders without any limits, but this actually opened a chasm when we were infected with viruses and malware, which could act on system files undisturbed. From Windows Vista onwards, protection has become more stringent and some files cannot be deleted, modified, or renamed even if on paper we are system administrators.If we need to protect a folder or to obtain full permissions for a specific folder or file, let’s see together in this guide how to change permissions to folders and files in Windows 10, so that you always have everything under control and can edit even locked files.

READ ALSO -> Manage shared folder permissions in Windows

Changing folder permissions in Windows 10

Changing folder permissions is a simple operation, but we advise you to apply it only in exceptional cases: changing permissions could prove fatal in the event of a virus infection, as well as the possibility of losing control over the file or folder in question ( if we fail to provide the right permissions). If you do not have the file or a folder, however, you cannot change the permissions either: it is, therefore, advisable to have an account belonging to the group Administrators.

Changing user permissions on Windows 10

The standard method to assign permissions to a file or folder involves right-clicking on the item we want to change permissions, press on the menu Property, and take us to the card Safety.

folder permissions

To “take possession” of the file or folder in order to then do what you want, modify, delete or rename we must first check if our user name (or Microsoft account) is present in the section Users and groups; after this necessary check we press the button Edit and, selecting our username, make sure to tick all the boxes under the column Consented.

If our user is not present in the section Users and groups and we have no permission on the file or folder, we can add it manually by pressing the button Edit by clicking on the button add and typing the username to add, making sure to hit Check names to check the correct spelling of the name.
In the end, we click on OK, we provide the necessary permissions for the user (by selecting it and putting the checkmarks under the column Consented), and press again on OK twice.

READ ALSO: Guide to editing permissions of files and folders on Windows

Add user to the Administrators group

The method seen above will not work if we have a simple user account or a limited account, since only those with administrative permissions can change the permissions for the other accounts on the PC. To solve the problem immediately we can try logging in with an administrator account (usually always present on PCs with limited accounts) and change the permissions for files and folders by adding the limited account as seen in the previous chapter.

If, on the other hand, we already have an administrator account but it doesn’t work very well or we want to provide administrative permissions to a simple account, we can change the user permissions by pressing the WIN + R keys on the keyboard, typing netplwiz and pressing on OK. In the new window we select the account to which to change the permissions, press at the bottom on Property, let’s go to the Groups tab and put the checkmark on the item Administrator.
User group

At the end, we click on OK twice and restart the PC for the changes to take effect. From now on, folders and files that are not accessible to simple users will be editable, since practically all system files and folders allow changes by users belonging to the group Administrators.

Programs for viewing and editing file properties

If we are looking for a simpler procedure to take possession of a file or folder we can use (at our own risk) files that allow, with a click of the mouse, to immediately assign the correct user permissions to modify or delete a file.

The first program we can try in this sense is Ownership, available for download from the official website.

This simple tool adds an item to the context menu (the menu that appears when you press the right mouse button) to immediately take all permissions. By pressing on this item we can take possession of the file and modify or delete it. With this simple trick, we can quickly get the full access rights to any file or folder and change permissions on the fly even for multiple files together.

If we do not want to use a program to obtain this type of change to the system we can proceed without downloading any program, adding some ready-to-use registry keys to the registry.
To follow this path we need to download the compressed ZIP file Take Ownership Menu Hacks, available for download from the HowToGeek website.
Registry changes

By opening the ZIP file and extracting it, you will see two .reg files, one to make the “Full Access” button appear on the right-click context menu and the other to remove it. After clicking on the file to add the item, we restart the system and go to any folder or file that is locked or not accessible, click with the right mouse button, and finally select the item Full access; from that moment that file or folder can be deleted, moved, renamed or modified.


While these tricks can be really useful for solving permissions problems on Windows 10, we remind you that modifying system files is strongly discouraged (especially if we are inexperienced): we run the risk of damaging Windows 10, with the risk of having to reinstall from scratch.

If we have a locked file that you don’t want to delete or that seems locked by another unknown program, we recommend that you read our guide Delete files in use “unable to delete” on Windows.
In another article, we have seen How to get administrator privileges on Windows 10.


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