How to Take Ownership of a File or Folder in Windows 10

It’s sometimes all too easy to forget that “PC” ostensibly stands for “Personal Computer,” which implies that you have full control and ownership over everything that goes on in Windows 10.

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 to take ownership over any folder in Windows 10. 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.

With that in mind, let’s regain your control and take ownership of any files and folders in Windows 10.

Note: I’m going to take ownership of the “addins” folder, but that’s just an example and doesn’t mean you should do it, too.

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

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.

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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.)

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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. You can now delete that pesky folder!

This is one of the most comprehensive ways to take ownership of the files and folders on Windows 10 and is a great way of getting rid of a folder such as the dreaded “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.

This article was first published in Nov 2014 and was updated in August 2017.

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