Switching to another operating system or importing data can lead to the impossibility of accessing your files and folders. This is result of the fact that your user has lost ownership of those files & folders or it no longer has the required permissions. Also accessing certain system protected files or folders involves sometimes modifying the file permissions for those resources. When you cannot read or change files/folders from your disk, it means that either you need to take ownership of them or you need to change your user's permissions. In this article you will learn how to change ownership of a file or folder and how to manage permissions for accessing and modifying them.
NOTE: You must be logged in as Administrator to take ownership or to change your user's permission rights.
Viewing Current User Permissions for a File or Folder
To view current user permission for a file or folder, go to desired file or folder, right click on it and choose Properties.
In the Properties window, go to the Security tab and select the current user to view the permissions currently assigned. In the screenshot below, for the user Maximilian you can view a list of permissions. You can select any user or group and view them.
You will see assigned to the selected user or group one or more of the following permissions:
- Full control - allows reading, writing, changing and deleting files and folders;
- Modify - allows reading, writing and changing of files and folders but not deletion;
- Read & execute - permits viewing and listing of files and subfolders as well as executing of files;
- List folder contents - enables viewing and listing of files and subfolders;
- Read - allows the user to see the contents of a folder and open files and sub-folders;
- Write -enables you to create new files and folders and make changes to existing files and sub-folders;
- Special permissions - contains a set of configurable actions that allow to configure advanced permissions;
NOTE: To learn more about Special permissions check this article on File and Folder Permissions.
Changing Permissions for a File or Folder
First, go to the desired file or folder, right click on it and choose Properties. In the Properties window, go to the Security tab and press the Edit button.
You can now view a list of all the groups and users, as well as their permissions for the selected file or folder. If you haven't found the user name or group name you desire in the list, click the Add button to open the 'Select Users or Groups' window.
The Remove button allows you to delete a user or group from the permission list.
For this tutorial, let's assume that you need to give permissions to a new user. Click the Add button to proceed.
Now you need to type the user name or the group of users that will be added in order to have permissions for the selected folder. For example, if you want to add the Administrators group, type Administrators and then press the 'Check Names' button.
I recommend you to use the Advanced button to select the desired user/group. Just press it to go to the next window.
Here you have two fields where you can change selections. However, this is not required as the defaults are just fine and include all possible options.
The 'Select this object type' field shows what kind of objects will be searched for. If you click on 'Object Types' you will be able to select between user, group or built-in security principals. By default, all are selected, so there is no need to modify anything.
The 'From this location' field shows where the objects will be searched for. By default, they will be searched on your computer. That's why you won't need to change anything here either. If you are part of a network domain, if you click on Locations you will be able to select other locations.
Since there is not change you need to make, press the 'Find Now' button to display a list of all the users and groups. This will search and return all users and groups defined on your computer.
Select from the list the desired user or group and press OK. For this tutorial I selected the user Administrator.
Press OK again to finish the process.
You will notice that the new user was added to the list. Select it and, in the Permission area, check the rights that you want to grant. Click OK for the changes to take effect.
Taking Ownership of a File or Folder
To change the owner of a file or a folder, open the Properties window, go to the 'Security' tab and press the 'Advanced' button.
In the next window you will see the current owner of the folder. In my example, the owner is an user. Click on the Edit button cu change it.
Next, press the button 'Other users or groups'.
Now you need to select the user name or the group of users that will take ownership of the selected folder. Add the desired user or group as shown in the previous chapter. For this tutorial I selected the user Guest.
In the Owner window, select the added user, check the 'Replace owner on subcontainers and objects' option and press OK.
A confirmation message will be displayed. Press 'OK' and you are done.
Go back to the 'Advanced Security Settings' window were you will notice the owner was changed. In my example, the new owner of the folder is the Guest user.
As you can see, changing permissions and taking ownership of files and folders is not that difficult. Just follow these instructions and you'll solve things quickly. If you have any questions on the subject, don't hesitate to leave a comment.