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How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Windows 10’s file system can be used to to assign permissions to specific groups and users to access files and folders on a computer.

When you’re signed in to your Windows 10 account, you get full control over the files and folders you create, sometimes you may also need access to other files. It could be files from an old account from a user that’s no longer around, or maybe some system files you need to tweak edit to customize certain aspects of the operating system.

If you don’t have specific permissions, Windows 10 will deny you access. But if your account has administrative privileges, you can take ownership of certain files and folders on your computer.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to take ownership of files and folders on your Windows 10 PC without the need of a third-party tool.

How to take ownership of files and folders

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Browse and find the file or folder you want to have full access.
  3. Right-click it, and select Properties.
  4. Click the Security tab to access the NTFS permissions.

Click the Advanced button.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

On the “Advanced Security Settings” page, you need to click the Change link, in the Owner’s field.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

From the search result, select your user account, and click OK.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Click OK.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

It’s important to note that if you’re taking ownership of a folder, you can check the Replace ownership on subcontainers and object option in the Advanced Security Settings page to take control of the subfolders inside of the folder.

Now you’ll need to grant full access control to your account, to do this use the following steps:

  1. Right-click the file or folder and select Properties.
  2. Click the Security tab to access the NTFS permissions.
  3. Click the Advanced button.

Under the Permissions tab, click Add.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

On the “Select User or Group” page, click OK.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Click OK.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

It’s important to note that if you’re taking ownership of a folder, you can check the Replace all existing inheritable permissions on all descendants with inheritable permissions for this object option in the Advanced Security Settings page to replace the subfolders permissions with the settings from the parent folder.

More Windows 10 resources

For more help articles, coverage, and answers on Windows 10, you can visit the following resources:

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

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Have you ever come across an issue when you are trying to open a file or a folder, and it is asking for certain permissions? It is a common issue with most of the users of Windows.

What’s Take Ownership?

“Take Ownership" simply means what it means to be taking permission. Now why does this need arise in Windows? The answer is compatibility issue. For example, If you were using any other version of Windows, supposedly Windows 7, then all the files and folders were created during the functionality of that version became compatible with that version alone. It could easily be opened or accessed from that particular version.

But let us assume that you have updated your Operating System from Windows 7 to Windows 10, the files and folders would still be there in your secondary storage system. But it is not necessary that they would open up like they did in previous version. You may find troubles opening them in the latter version you are updated to. This is where the need of “Take Ownership" comes. In the new version of your operating system, the files and folders find some issues which need to be fixed by making them compatible with the updated version. The allowance of compatibility comprises in asking for permission from the recently updated version of your operating system to let the files run. There are several modules pre-installed in every operating system of Windows, which allows alteration in the MMC (Memory Management Consoles). By these changes, users can easily bypass the obstructions created due to incompatibility issues.

This article will shows two ways to help you take ownership of a file and folder on Windows 10.

  • Part 1. Add the “Take Ownership” for Files Using Registry Editor Manually
  • Part 2. Take Ownership of a Folder in Windows 10 Using File Explorer

Part 1. Add the "Take Ownership" for Files Using Registry Editor Manually

Instead of heading on with several difficulties by too many steps of GUI and command line, why don’t we use a simple context menu command that instantly gives you the permission to take ownership? The following method deals with this particular technique.

Standard Warning: You may not know but Registry Editor is such a powerful tool of Microsoft that mishandling it can render your system unstable or can even make it disabled. Thus you should be cautious enough to handle it while following the steps below.

Step 1. Go to the “start" menu and type “regedit".

Step 2. Press enter to open the panel of registry editor by giving it permission to make changes to your PC.

Step 3. On the right side bar, scroll down to the following option called “shell".

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell

Step 4. Next you have to create a new key named as “runas". Right click on the “shell" option. Add “New" and create a “Key".

Step 5. Name the new key as “runas’. If you already find a key present as “runas", simply skip the step.

Step 7. In the property windows box, type “Take Ownership in the ‘Value Data" box and press “Ok". The value you type here will be seen as the appearing command in your context menu, so you can change it to any value as per you wish.

Step 9. You can name the new value as “No Working Directory".

Step 10. Now you have to create a new key inside “runas" key. Right click on “runas" key, select “New" and then “Key". Name the file as “command".

Step 11. Now again with the new “command" key selected, double click the “default" option to open its property window.

Step 12. In the “Value data" box type or copy paste the following code and then press ‘Ok".

cmd.exe /c takeown /f \"%1\" && icacls \"%1\" /grant administrators:F

Step 13. Once you are done with it, you have to create a new “command" key. Right click on the “command" key; select “New" and then “String Value". Name it as “Isolated Command" and then double click it to open its property window.

Step 14. Type or copy paste the same code in the “Value Data" box, and then click “Ok".

After doing the entire laborious work “Take Ownership" command will be added in you context menu to open the files which were blocked.

Part 2. Take Ownership for Folder in Windows 10 Using File Explorer

This method would not require registry modifications but rather simple changes in the properties of the file or folder you choose. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to take ownership of files and folders on your Windows 10 using File Explorer.

Step 1. Open the windows explorer to locate the file or folder you want to take ownership of.

Step 2. Right click on the file and choose “properties" and then “Security" tab.

Step 3. Click the “Advanced‘ and then the “Owner" tab.

Step 4. Now once you are done with this, click “Edit" and follow any of the two below mentioned techniques.

4. 1 In order to change the owner to a group or any user simply selects “Other users and Groups". In the “Enter the object name to select" type the name of the group or user and then click “ok".

4. 2 In order to change the owner to user or group, which in case is listed in the “Change owner to" box, select the new owner.

Step 5. On the “Select User or Group” page, click OK. and click Apply.

Step 6. Now, here you will need to offer a full access to the file or folder for your account. Just do as following. Right-click the file or folder again, click Properties, and then click the Security tab. You will see permission entry windows pops up after clicking "Add" button. Then set permissions to “Full control”.

It’s important to note that if you’re taking ownership of a folder, you can click “Replace all existing inheritable permissions on all descendants" .

That’s all. forllow the steps on part 2, you will change the ownership and got full access to the folder in Windows 10 by using the File Explorer. The article is aimed at providing you step by step guidance to Take Ownership of a file and folder in Windows 10. Do not try to incorporate anything other than what mentioned for registry tools for it can be fatal for your system.

Vicky is a professional Windows technology author with many experience, focusing on computer technology. She’s very much enjoy helping people find solutions to their problems. Her knowledge and passion always drive her to discover everything about technology.

Walter Glenn
How to take ownership of files and folders in windowsWalter Glenn
Former Editorial Director

Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He’s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He’s authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O’Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He’s also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years. Read more.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

If you’ve ever been denied access to a file or folder in Windows, chances are you need to take ownership of them with your user account. Here’s how.

  1. Right-click the object and choose “Properties.”
  2. In the Properties window, on the “Security” tab, click “Advanced.”
  3. Next to the listed Owner, click the “Change” link.
  4. Type your user account name into the “Enter the object name to select” box and then click “Check Names.”
  5. When the name is validated, click “OK.”
  6. Click “OK” twice more to exit out of the properties windows.

In Windows, a user that has ownership of a file or folder has implicit rights to change permissions on that object. That user is also always allowed to access the file or folder—even when other permissions seemingly contradict that access. When you create a file or folder, the user account under which you’re logged in automatically gets ownership.

But you might occasionally run into a situation where you need to take ownership of a file or folder. Maybe you’ve got files or folders that were created by a user account that has since been deleted. Maybe you’ve got a hard drive from another PC that you’re working on. Or maybe you just need access to a particular system file—like “notepad.exe”— so you can apply a hack. Whatever your reason, here’s the official way to take ownership of a file or folder. And once you’ve learned how to do it, why not make it even easier and add a “Take Ownership” command right to your context menu?

First, make sure you’re logged on with an account that has administrative privileges. By default, any administrative account can take ownership of a file or folder in Windows.

Right-click the file or folder and choose “Properties” from the context menu.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

In the Properties window, switch to the “Security” tab, and then click the “Advanced” button.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

In Windows 8 or 10, in the “Advanced Security Settings” window, click the “Change” link next to the listed owner.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

In Windows 7, the “Advanced Security Settings” window has a separate “Owner” tab where you’ll make these changes. On that tab, click the “Edit” button and then click the “Other Users or Groups” button on the subsequent page.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

From that point, the rest of the instructions in this article apply whether you’re using Windows 7, 8, or 10.

In the “Select User or Group” window, in the “Enter the object name to select” box, type your user account name, and then click the “Check Names” button. If you typed a valid name, the name should change to show the full user name path with the PC name before it. You can then click the “OK” button.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

NOTE: If you’re using a Microsoft account (rather than a local account), your official user name is just the first 5 letters of the full email address you used to set up the account. You’ve probably also noticed that those five letters were also used to name your user folder.

Back in the “Advanced Security Settings” window, you’ll see that your user account is now listed as the owner of the object. If it’s a folder, you’ll also see an option under the owner named “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects.” Make sure that’s selected and then click “OK.”

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

And back on the “Security” tab of the file’s Properties window, click the “OK” button.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

You should now have full ownership of and access to your file or folder.

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How to take ownership of files and folders in windows Walter Glenn
Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He’s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He’s authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O’Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He’s also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years.
Read Full Bio »

For this article, we’re going to show you how to take control of files and folders that you can’t open, delete, move, or rename. The TrustedInstaller, part of User Account Control, protects crucial files so that even Administrators can’t open, delete, move, or rename them. We’ve also seen this happen with files on external or secondary hard drives that aren’t system files, including, and especially, photos. Let’s solve this annoying problem.

TIP : Hard to fix Windows Problems? Repair/Restore Missing Windows OS Files Damaged by Malware with a few clicks

1: Use a Registry Hack

Take Full Ownership Context Menu Registry Hack adds and removes Take Ownership to the Context Menu.

Two registry files are included that can enable or disable the Context Menu option. Advanced users can open the Reg files to see what’s done or modify them to suit their needs.

2: Use TakeOwnershipEx

There’s the easy way, and there’s the hard way. TakeOwnershipEx is a portable app that can grant full access to read-only files and folders. You can use this utility to gain full access to folders and files; this includes full access permissions. You can also revert settings as well. Download TakeOwnershipEx here.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

3: Do It the Hard Way

So, we’ve opted for the hard way? Welcome to the club. Of course, maybe TakeOwnershipEx or the registry hack didn’t work for you, so this is your only other option.

Start File Explorer or Windows Explorer and click on the file or folder you want to take Ownership of, right-click, and select Properties.

Click on the Security tab, then click on Advanced at the bottom.

At the top, you should see the Owner Name. Some Windows users, including Windows 8, may see Replace owner on sub containers and object below the Owner name. If so, check that box and click apply before proceeding.

Click on Change next to the Owner name.

Click on Advanced and then click on Find Now. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. You will probably see twenty or thirty user accounts, and you need to pick the right one. It might be Administrators, Administrators, or Everyone. The odds are there’s an account with your name and email (if you created a Microsoft account), and that’s the one you want.

Double-click the Account you want to modify, and the prior Window will open again, showing your Account where you see Enter the object name to select.

Sometimes you need to get full access to some file or folder in Windows 10. It can be a system file or folder, or one which was created by a user account that no longer exists. In most cases, the Windows operating system will prevent you from doing any operation on such files and folders. In this article, we will see how to take ownership and get full access to files and folders in Windows 10.

Take ownership of a file or folder in Windows 10 using File Explorer

To take ownership of a file or folder in Windows 10 without using third party tools

  1. Open File Explorer, and then locate the file or folder you want to take ownership of.
  2. Right-click the file or folder, click Properties, and then click the Security tab.
    How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
    How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
  3. Click the Advanced button. The “Advanced Security Settings” window will appear. Here you need to change the Owner of the key.
    Click the Change link next to the “Owner:” label
    How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
  4. The Select User or Group window will appear.
    How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
    Select the user account via the Advanced button or just type your user account in the area which says ‘Enter the object name to select’ and click OK.
  5. Optionally, to change the owner of all subfolders and files inside the folder, select the check box “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” in the “Advanced Security Settings” window. Click OK to change the ownership.How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
  6. Now you need to provide full access to the file or folder for your account. Right-click the file or folder again, click Properties, and then click the Security tab.
  7. Click the Add button. The “Permission Entry” window will appear on the screen:How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
  8. Click “Select a principal” and select your account:How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
  9. Set permissions to “Full control”:
    How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
    Click OK.
  10. Optionally, click “Replace all existing inheritable permissions on all descendants with inheritable permissions from this object” in the “Advanced Security Settings” window.
    How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
    What it means is permissions on this parent object will replace those on its descendant objects. When cleared, permissions on each object, whether parent or its descendant, can be unique. Click OK to get full access to the file or folder.

That’s it. You just changed the ownership and got full access to the file in Windows 10 using the File Explorer app.

Using the Change Owner context menu

Additionally, you may want to add a Change Owner context menu. It will allow you to save significant amount of time by directly setting ownership to one of the pre-defined system accounts.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

The context menu allows you to quickly change the owner to one of the following system accounts: the Administrators group, Everyone, SYSTEM, and TrustedInstaller. To learn more about the Change owner context menu, please refer to the following post.

There, you will find ready-to-use Registry files, detailed instructions, and clarifications about how every context menu entry works. This will allow you to change the file, folder, or drive owner with one click.

Take ownership of a file or folder in Windows 10 using TakeOwnershipEx

Alternatively, you can save a lot of your time using my freeware, TakeOwnershipEx. It allows you to change file ownership and access rights with one click. Just select the file or a folder and click the “Take Ownership” button:
How to take ownership of files and folders in windowsHow to take ownership of files and folders in windows
After you get full access to the desired file or folder, you can even restore the default permissions which it had. Click the “Restore ownership” button to restore it:
How to take ownership of files and folders in windows
That’s it. Using the TakeOwnershipEx app, you can save your time, but even if you prefer using the built-in options in File Explorer, it shouldn’t be too hard task for you if you followed the instructions in this article.

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Describes the best practices, location, values, policy management, and security considerations for the Take ownership of files or other objects security policy setting.

Reference

This policy setting determines which users can take ownership of any securable object in the device, including Active Directory objects, NTFS files and folders, printers, registry keys, services, processes, and threads.

Every object has an owner, whether the object resides in an NTFS volume or Active Directory database. The owner controls how permissions are set on the object and to whom permissions are granted.

By default, the owner is the person who or the process which created the object. Owners can always change permissions to objects, even when they are denied all access to the object.

Possible values

  • User-defined list of accounts
  • Not defined

Best practices

  • Assigning this user right can be a security risk. Because owners of objects have full control of them, only assign this user right to trusted users.

Location

Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment

Default values

By default this setting is Administrators on domain controllers and on stand-alone servers.

The following table lists the actual and effective default policy values. Default values are also listed on the policy’s property page.

Server type or GPO Default value
Default Domain Policy Not defined
Default Domain Controller Policy Administrators
Stand-Alone Server Default Settings Administrators
Domain Controller Effective Default Settings Administrators
Member Server Effective Default Settings Administrators
Client Computer Effective Default Settings Administrators

Policy management

This section describes features, tools, and guidance to help you manage this policy.

A restart of the device is not required for this policy setting to be effective.

Any change to the user rights assignment for an account becomes effective the next time the owner of the account logs on.

Ownership can be taken by:

  • An administrator. By default, the Administrators group is given the Take ownership of files or other objects user right.
  • Anyone or any group who has the Take ownership user right on the object.
  • A user who has the Restore files and directories user right.

Ownership can be transferred in the following ways:

  • The current owner can grant the Take ownership user right to another user if that user is a member of a group defined in the current owner’s access token. The user must take ownership to complete the transfer.
  • An administrator can take ownership.
  • A user who has the Restore files and directories user right can double-click Other users and groups and choose any user or group to assign ownership to.

Group Policy

Settings are applied in the following order through a Group Policy Object (GPO), which will overwrite settings on the local computer at the next Group Policy update:

  1. Local policy settings
  2. Site policy settings
  3. Domain policy settings
  4. OU policy settings

When a local setting is greyed out, it indicates that a GPO currently controls that setting.

Security considerations

This section describes how an attacker might exploit a feature or its configuration, how to implement the countermeasure, and the possible negative consequences of countermeasure implementation.

Vulnerability

Any users with the Take ownership of files or other objects user right can take control of any object, regardless of the permissions on that object, and then make any changes that they want to make to that object. Such changes could result in exposure of data, corruption of data, or a denial-of-service condition.

Countermeasure

Ensure that only the local Administrators group has the Take ownership of files or other objects user right.

Potential impact

None. Restricting the Take ownership of files or other objects user right to the local Administrators group is the default configuration.

Changing file or folder ownership in Microsoft Windows 10 requires a deep dive into Properties Settings.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

When you create a file or a folder in Microsoft Windows 10, you are designated the owner of that file or folder by default. Ownership grants you permissions power regarding who can access and modify that file or folder. It is an important responsibility in a collaborative environment where many people may be required to access a specific document.

More about Windows

However, there are times, particularly within a dynamic business environment, when file or folder ownership must be changed to someone else. Changes in personnel and changes in project responsibility are just two examples when document ownership may have to be transferred. The process can be completed by the current owner of a file or folder, or by an individual with proper system administration credentials.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to take ownership of a file or folder in Microsoft Windows 10. This article updates Quick Tip: Take ownership of files and folders in Windows, which was published in January 2011.

Take ownership of a file or folder

To start the change of ownership process, activate Windows File Explorer and navigate to the specific file or folder to be changed. Right-click that file and then click the Properties item in the context menu. Click the Security tab to reveal the screen shown in Figure A.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

As you can see, I currently have full control over this file. Click the Advanced button to reach the screen where ownership may be changed (Figure B). Click the Change link to make your ownership changes and note that you may have to provide administrative credentials to continue further.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

As you can see in Figure C, the system will then ask you to enter a valid username. You can click the Advanced button on this page to reveal a query box that you can use to search for valid usernames. (Note: I am the only user so there are no other names to choose from.)

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

If you are making an ownership change to a folder, you will also have the opportunity to apply that change to all of the sub-folders and files located in that folder.

In addition to changing ownership (Figure B), you can also review who has permission to access the file or folder, and how the file or folder is shared. Collaboration and sharing have become important concepts for business operations since this tip was originally published in 2011. However, making changes to the share settings will require a different application.

Windows Registry tweaks

It is possible to include ownership functions as part of the context menu for a file or folder, thus avoiding the necessity to wade through so many settings screens. The tweak could be a time saver for many system administrators. The process requires a rather involved set of Windows Registry changes, which we will explain in a follow-up article.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

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By default, a user who creates files and folders will be marked as the owner of the same. The ownership right gives users full authority over the created file or folder so that they can choose who gets the access to use and modify it.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Windows may deny access to files and folders to other users due to a lack of permissions. If the original owner of that file or folder is not available, as an admin, you can take ownership of the file or folder by diving deep into the file’s properties.

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How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

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How to Take Ownership of Files or Folders

With administrative privileges, you can take ownership of any file or folder created by another user on Windows 10. Once you’re logged in with an admin account, here’s how to take ownership of a file or folder.

Step 1: Right-click on the file or folder and select Properties from the context menu.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Step 2: In the Properties window, switch to the Security tab and click on the Advanced button.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Step 3: Here, the name of the current owner of the file or folder will be displayed at the top. Click on the Change button to transfer the ownership to someone else.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Step 4: In the following window, under ‘Enter the object name to select’ enter a username to which you’d like to transfer the ownership. Once entered, check the validity of the entered username by clicking on the Check Names button next to it. Then click on OK.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Alternatively, you can also use the Advanced button to quickly search for a username.

Step 5: While changing the ownership of a folder, if you want, you can also apply the ownership change to all of its subfolders by marking the check box that reads ‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’ in the ‘Advance Security Settings’ window.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Step 6: After that, hit Apply and then OK.

Now that the ownership of the selected file or folder has been transferred, you can now grant the new owner various permissions to modify that file or folder.

One of the first few things you might encounter after upgrading your existing Windows to Windows 8.1 is the file and folder/directory permission problem. If you have multiple disk drive, as well as multiple users or a new user for the new Windows 8.1, then you might have some of the folders become inaccessible due to the lake of permission after the system was upgraded to Windows 8.1.

You might get a warning message like the following “You don’t currently have permission to access this folder.” Click Continue to permanently get access to this folder.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

You don’t currently have permission to access this folder

You have the choice to click “Continue”. In most case, this will fix the issue of not being able to get access to the folder. But sometimes, you might still run into issues where all the child folders have the same problem, unable to access this folder because of the lack of permission. In this case, you can manually click “Continue” for every single child directory or use a command line utility called “takeown” to achieve this.

takeown /a /r /d Y /f D:\PATH\

Launch command prompt as administrator. You can do so in Windows 8.1, by right click on the Start Menu > Command Prompt (Admin) and type the following command. Let me explain what this command is doing, /a is telling the computer to grant ownership to the administrator /r recursively find all folders and sub-folders and files. /d Y is to answer yes to any prompt if needed, /f specific root folder you’d like to start on.

By doing so you will see messages fly by on each success permission update, “SUCCESS: The file (or folder): “…” now owned by the administrator group. You are now successfully silently updated file permission to the new system.

How to take ownership of files and folders in windows

Mission of taking folder ownership succeeded

If you don’t want to grant the permission to administrator group, just drop /a in the command and it will grant permission to the current user. This will save you tons time on file permission headaches when upgrade your system to a new OS, particularly after Windows 8.1 upgrade.