How to change ownership of a file or folder on Windows 10?

By ivan.diskin | May 2, 2019 |

greater than 5 minutes

You might find Windows denying you access to a specific file or folder stored on your computer. There and then, you realize that you actually might not have access to all the items on your PC (regardless of you being logged in now with an admin account). We can infer that in such a scenario, you will be unable to edit, move or copy that file or folder. The issue seems to be a bit common.

First, it is imperative that you come to terms with how things work on your computer. In the Windows operating system environment, the implicit rights to change permissions on a specific object (file or folder) belong to the user that has ownership of that object. In other words, only the recorded owner of an item is allowed to alter permissions for that item.

Windows is configured to always provide access to the user (or owner in view) even when other permissions or settings appear to contradict that access. Basically, if you create a file or folder, the user account or profile with which you are currently logged in gets ownership (rights for the created object).

Given how the stated rules work, users occasionally run into situations where they are denied access to a specific file or folder. In that case, if they really want to push things through, they must take ownership of the object involved.

Perhaps, the file or folder you are struggling to access currently was created by a user account which got deleted some time ago. The same access denial events tend to play out when you get a hard drive from another computer (which you have been working on) and you try to access something stored there (through your PC).

There are also scenarios where Windows denying you access to a file or folder has nothing to do with the object having been created under another user account or profile. Some restrictions on certain system files – notepad.exe, for example – prevent users from working on them or altering their content. If you need to access a system file to apply a hack, then you must take ownership of it.

Anyway, in this guide, we intend to show you how to change file or folder ownership in Microsoft Windows 10 so that you can access the object or perform the intended operation on it.

How do I change ownership of a file?

You need administrative privileges to execute the operations here, so you will do well to confirm that you are currently logged into your system with an admin account. By default, only administrative accounts are powerful enough to take ownership of files or folders in Windows. Any administrative account, in theory, should be capable of doing the job.

Go through these steps to change ownership of a specific file or folder:

  • First, you must right-click on the file or folder involved to see some options and then choose Properties from the list.

The Properties window for the selected item will be displayed now.

  • Click on the Security tab (to go there) and then click on the Advanced button (situated at the lower section of the window).

The Advanced Security Settings window for the selected file or folder will be visible now.

  • Click on the Change link (next to the name of the owner).

Your system is supposed to bring up the Select User or Group window now.

  • In the field for Enter the object name to select, you must type in your user account name. Check that you inputted the correct name.
  • Click on the Check Names button.

If Windows checks the name you provided and confirms it to be valid, then the name will automatically be transformed to show the full user name path (with the PC name before it).

  • If everything is set, you can click on the OK button to proceed.

If your current user profile is a Microsoft account (and not a local account), then your official user name is basically the first five letters of the full email address that was used to create and set up the account. While working on Windows, you might have noticed that the name of your user folder was formed from those five letters.

  • Anyway, assuming you are back on the Advanced Security Settings window, you will notice that your user account is now listed under the Owner field (as the owner of the object in view).

If you were working on a folder, then you will also see the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects option. Ensure that the checkbox for this parameter is selected (or click on it to select it).

  • Click on the OK button.

Your system might bring up a dialog box to tell about other operations you need to execute. Click on the OK button.

  • Assuming you are on the Advanced Security Settings window for the selected file or folder, you should see the Add button (under the Permission entries list). Click on it.

The Permission Entry window for the selected file or folder will be displayed now.

  • Click on the Select a principal link.
  • Assuming the Select User or Group page is up, you should see the Advanced button, which you have to click on.
  • Click on the Find now button.

Now, Windows will display a list of the existing user profiles on your computer.

  • Click on your user name (to select your account) and then click on the OK button.
  • Assuming you are back to the Permission Entry for the selected item window, you should see the Basic Permissions menu. There, you have to click on the checkbox for Full control to choose this option.

The checkboxes for other parameters (Modify, Read and Execute, List Folder Contents, and so on) should get ticked automatically.

You are supposed to end up back on the Security tab of the Properties window (where you began your work).

If you are taking ownership of a folder, we recommend that you tick the checkbox for the Replace all existing inheritable permissions on all descendants with inheritable permissions for this object option (on the Advanced Security Settings page).

This move ensures that the subfolder permissions get replaced with the settings from the parent folder. After all, permissions on each object – regardless of the item being the parent or a descendant file or folder – can be unique. This tip will save you a lot of trouble.

  • Click on the OK button on all screens until you get back to the Properties window.

If you did everything correctly, then Windows should grant you complete ownership of that file or folder (and access to it).

If you want to verify the new permissions you just got, you can go a step further and do this:

  • Bring up the Properties window for the file or folder (you worked on) and go to the Security tab there (as you did earlier).
  • Under the Group or user names menu, you should see your account name. Click on it.
  • Under the Permissions for the file or folder menu, you should see the appropriate information about the permissions and your ownership of the file or folder.
  • Click on the OK button.

TIP:

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