How to Gain Permission to Delete Any Folder or File in Windows

Kids these days may forget, but once upon a time it wasn’t unusual to call a PC a “Personal Computer,” which surely implies that it is your domain, and you should do with it as you please. If you want to delete a file, you should damn well be able to!

But Windows doesn’t always bow so willingly to your demands, and you may sometimes see a message similar to this one below – albeit probably with a program other than “TrustedInstaller” barring your path.

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I’ll show you how to override this restriction. But first, remember that even though Windows is sometimes wrong about what folders you do and don’t have permission to delete, it does sometimes know what’s best for you. The “addins” folder above, for example, is actually a Windows system folder that I definitely shouldn’t be deleting, and Windows is right to block me. Not that I’m going to let that stop me from going ahead and deleting it anyway just to demonstrate how it works.

With that in mind, here’s how to gain permission to delete any folder on your PC.

1. First, navigate to the folder or file you’re trying to delete in Windows Explorer (for me, it’s “C:\Windows\addins”).

2. Right-click the folder, then select “Properties -> Security tab -> Advanced.”

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3. In the new window (Advanced Security Settings) click “Change” next to the “Owner” label at the top.

4. In the new window (Select User or Group) type the email address of your Windows account into the “Enter the object name to select” box. If you’re unsure, click “Advanced” in the new window click “Find Now” then double-click your Windows account name in the Search results that appear.

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You should now be sent back to the previous window with your account name appearing in the “Enter the object name to select” box. Click OK.

gain-permissions-delete-folder-windows-account-selected

You’ll now be back in the Advanced Security Settings window again. It’s a good idea here to tick the “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” box, as that will give you full permission to modify and delete all the files contained within the folder you want to delete. Click OK (if you don’t do this, you may have to go through the whole process again just to get rid of everything within that folder).

gain-permissions-delete-folder-windows-replace-own

5. In Windows Explorer right-click the folder you want to delete again, and click “Properties -> Advanced -> Add.”

6. In the Permission Entry window, click “Select a principal” at the top, add your Windows username into the “Enter the object name to select” box just like you did before, then click OK.

7. Back in the Permission Entry box, tick the “Full control” box and click OK.

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8. In the Advanced Security Settings box, click OK and you’re done. You can now delete that pesky folder!

This is one of the most comprehensive ways to gain full control of the files and folders on your PC and is a great way of getting rid of files in places such as the “Windows.old” folder which contains unnecessary remnants of your past Windows installations.

However, always think carefully when you see a prompt saying you don’t have permission to delete a given folder. Make sure it’s not a crucial system file or folder, and do your research before going ahead with it. If you’re unsure, at least make a backup of that folder and store it elsewhere on your hard drive for a week or so, just in case you need to reinstate it if your computer starts playing up.

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