Apr 24, 2008
Tip and Trick Editorial

How to Take Ownership and Full Control Permissions of Files and Folders in Vista

A lot of files and folders in Windows Vista does not actually belongs to users. Rather, most system files have “Trusted Installer” as owner, the assign or grant read+write, traverse or full control permissions to SYSTEM or CREATOR OWNER user account only. So users must take ownership and grant full access control permissions and rights to themselves if they want to modify, rename or delete these files or folders. Sometimes, users may need to take ownership and grant full rights to themselves on another drive or partition, especially on disk newly installed or inserted if they cannot browse the contents from the drive.

To take ownership and grant full control (or read write) permissions of files or folders in Windows Vista, do these steps.

  1. In Windows Explorer window, locate the files or folders that you want to take ownership and grant or change full control or other access permissions.
  2. Right click on the file or directory, and then select Properties on the right click menu.

    Open Folder Properties

  3. Click on Security tab.
  4. Click on Advanced button at the bottom.

    Take Ownership

  5. In “Advanced Security Settings” dialog window, click on Owner tab.
  6. Here you will be able to see current owner (i.e. TrustedInstaller). To take ownership of the object, click on the Edit button. If UAC prompts for administrator’s password or permission to continue, enter the correct password or press Continue button.

    Take Onwership of Files and Folders in Windows Vista

  7. Additional “Advanced Security Settings” dialog will appear. Highlight the user name (for example, Administrators) in the Change owner to box that you want to assign as the owner for the object. Click OK to make the change.

    Take Ownership of Files and Folders in Vista

  8. Back in original parent level “Advanced Security Settings” window, you will see the existing owner of the file or folder has changed to the user you just selected.
  9. Click OK button to exit this window.
  10. Click OK again to exit completely from the Properties window.
  11. The ownership is now belonged to user or user account that been selected. To assign necessary permissions to the user too, repeat step 1 to 3 to open the object’s Properties window again.
  12. In object’s Properties window, click on Edit button to change permissions. If UAC prompts for administrator’s password or permission to continue, enter the correct password or press Continue button.

    Change Files and Folders Permissions in Windows Vista

  13. Highlight the Administrators or the user who wants the permissions on the object be changed in the “Group or user names” box.

    If the user ID or group that you want to manage the permissions for the object doesn’t exist, click on Add button, and type in the user name or group name desired into the Enter object names to select box, and finish off by clicking on OK.

  14. In the Permissions for Administrators box below (or any other user name or group name you chose), click on “Full Control” under the “Allow” column to assign full access rights control permissions to Administrators group.

    Assign Full Control Permissions

  15. Click “OK” twice when done.

Users can now do whatever you like to the files or directories processed as above. If you feel that above process is a little too long, and prefer to use command line to perform above process, then open an elevated command prompt as administrator, and issues the following commands:

For Files:

takeown /f file_name /d y
icacls file_name /grant administrators:F

For Folders or Directories (will perform action recursively):

takeown /f directory_name /r /d y
icacls directory_name /grant administrators:F /t

Replace file_name or directory_name with actual file name or folder name, with path when applicable. The first command will take ownership of the file or folder specified, and the second command will grant full control permissions to administrators user group. Note that when using command for folders, to command will run recursively. To prevent the task been perform recursively, remove the “/r” and “/t” switch.

Update: Related articles have been updated and consolidated as How to Take Ownership and Gain Full Control Permissions in Windows

  • Nice Post

  • Doesn’t work on system folders like FONTS

  • Cozmo

    Worked great for me in Vista, thanks

  • Steve van Weelij

    Thanks a lot. Worked for me on W7.

  • yussss

    Interesting! Thanks for the info.

  • thebug

    heck with all of that crap,,just install xp and then you have all permissions!!!

  • required

    serriously – doeas ANYONE think this idiocy is remotely acceptable?

  • Steve

    Thank you a million times.

    I have just wasted so much time trying to get a directory and recovery files removed. Your instructions worked perfectly on Win7 Ult.

  • Youssef

    how can i give ownership to a certain user on a folder and it's subfolder from CLI

    COZ i need to apply that on a file server with many folder

  • Lloyd

    "Additional “Advanced Security Settings” dialog will appear. Highlight the user name (for example, Administrators) in the Change owner to box that you want to assign as the owner for the object. Click OK to make the change."

    You would have to check the box at the bottom "Replace owner on subcontainer and objects" if it is a folder.

    If not you'd have to repeatedly change the ownership for every single file in the folder again and again

  • byran

    it is so detail and usefull to me…thanks very much..

  • revancha

    C:>takeown /q q: /d y

    'takeown' is not recognized as an internal or external command,

    operable program or batch file.

    I'm using windows vista 64 home premium

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  • Lee

    This the result of using the icacls. Clearly it does not work.

    C:Windowssystem32>icacls d:users /grant administrators:F /T

    d:users: The system cannot find the file specified.

    Successfully processed 0 files; Failed processing 1 files

  • Lee

    These directions do not work:

    takeown /f d:users /r /d y

    it looks like you have to use capital. Letters. In addition I get a gazillion "cannot find the file specified" message as it recurses through the folders. The real screwed up thing is, it actually gives the filename, meaning it finds the file, but then throws a file not found error.

    This one crashed and burned right out of the gate. Need to play with this a while to get it to work. WIll post the correct.

    icacls directory_name /grant administrators:F /t

  • Jules

    I have successfully taken ownership and check the box at the bottom of the ownership window, but for some reason I cannot get the permissions to apply to the subfolders and files. Please help.

  • heather

    This is not working for me, can someone please help. I have an old XP laptop hard drive and I'm trying to access the files on it with my Vista laptop. I successfully did this with both an XP home & pro computer but vista doesn't seem to be working.

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  • Maikel Beerens

    Thanks man!

    With this method, I was able to install my Quickcam messenger from Logitec Under windows 7.

    First download and unpack the logitech QuickCam v (latest) into an folder. Than plugin your webcam, and install the driver manually, from the C:programfiles/logitech folder (just select the logitech folder and hit the next button. After this step, your camera will function, without sound.

    Then do as follows.

    – Google for the file USBAudio.Sys for XP

    Give yourself Rights to the file, as described above, than it will work again.



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  • Delta One

    thanks. great post with relevant info that saved me a great deal of time trying to find it myself. keep up the good work.



  • Brandon

    i followed all the directions but i still dont have special permission and i tried saving imageres.dll as image.res.dll and it still says do not have permission contact admin

  • Janelle

    I followed all the directions to allow my username, and administration and everything else to have full control, but when I check the full control box, it will go over a bunch of windows files and say access is denied, but the box still remains check. I really don't know what is happening, so if someone can address my issue or knows anything, that would be wonderful!

  • ava

    Thank You!! Your instructions are very well written and easy to follow. Appreciate it very much!

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