Fix: ‘You need permission to perform this action’ in Windows 10, 8.1 or 7

By: Andrew Wafer
6 minute read

In Windows 8, like in any other versions of Windows you might notice that you can’t access all the files from your device. Now, this might happen because you don’t have the right permissions or because there is a conflict between multiple files from your system.

If you want to fix these issues and if you want to grant yourself full file permissions, take a look below and learn how to troubleshoot your Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 device.

Getting error messages like File Access Denied or You need permission to perform this action are quite annoying especially when you want to run a movie or a game and you can’t do it due to unknown reasons. Also, the same alerts might be displayed when trying to install or delete files or programs from your Windows 8 / Windows 8.1 computer thus gaining file permission on your device is a must have.

If you don’t know how to enable permissions on Windows, then don’t hesitate and use the guidelines from below and try the troubleshooting solutions described during the present tutorial.

Also check how to fix ctrl + alt + del not working or alt + tab not working in Windows 8.

File Access Denied error, how to fix it?

File Access Denied error message can cause problems on your PC, and in this article we’ll show you how to fix the following issues:

  • Windows 10 Access Denied administrator – Sometimes you might get this message even if you’re a computer administrator. To fix the problem, simply change the ownership over the problematic file and check if that solves the problem.
  • Folder Access Denied You need permission to perform this action – This error can occur if you don’t have the necessary permissions to access the file. To fix this problem, you just have to give Full control to the desired account.
  • Can’t delete file Access Denied – This error message can prevent you from deleting certain files. However, you should be able to fix this problem by using one of our solutions.
  • File Access Denied copy paste, rename – Several users reported this error while copying or renaming their files. However, you can easily fix this problem by changing your security settings.
  • File Access Denied external hard drive, USB – This issue is relatively common with external hard drives and USB devices, and if you’re having this problem, be sure to try some of our solutions.
  • File Access Denied Cannot take ownership – Few users reported that they are unable to take ownership over the selected file. If you have this problem, you might want to try changing the ownership using Command Prompt.
  • File Access Denied steam_api.dll, Google Chrome – Sometimes this error can appear while trying to run certain applications such as Steam or Chrome. If you’re having this problem, reinstall affected applications and check if that helps.

Solution 1 – Change the owner of the directory

  1. First of all, find a file which can’t be accessed. Right click on the same and select Properties.
  2. Pick the Security tab and from Group and user names click on Administrator.
  3. Click the Advanced button at the bottom.
    Windows 10 Access Denied administrator
  4. Click on Change in the Owner section.
    Folder Access Denied You need permission to perform this action
  5. In Select user or group window choose click on Advanced button.
    Can't delete file Access Denied
  6. Then from Advanced Settings click on Find now button and select which group should have full file permission on your computer. Click OK to close this window.
    File Access Denied copy paste
  7. Up next navigate towards the Permissions tab and click on Add button.
    File Access Denied external hard drive
  8. Click on Select a principal.
    File Access Denied Cannot take ownership
  9. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 to select the desired user or group.
  10. Set Type to Allow and check Full control option. Now click on OK to save changes.
    Windows 10 Access Denied administrator

After doing that you’ll have the ownership over the selected file and you’ll be able to edit without any restrictions.


Solution 2 – Change the security permission without changing the ownership

Sometimes in order to access a certain file you don’t need to have ownership over it, you just have to have the appropriate permissions. Changing the ownership on sensitive files can cause issues to appear, so it might be better just to change the security permissions.

If you’re getting File Access Denied error message, you can change your permissions without affecting the ownership by doing the following:

  1. Locate the file or directory that you can’t access, right click it and choose Properties from the menu.
    Folder Access Denied You need permission to perform this action
  2. When the Properties window opens, navigate to the Security tab. Check the list of available users and groups and click the Edit button.
    Can't delete file Access Denied
  3. Check if the account you want to change permissions for is on the list. If not, proceed to the next step. If the account is available, go to Step 7.
  4. Click the Add button.
    File Access Denied rename
  5. Select Users or Groups window will appear. If you know the exact name of the user or the name of the group, you can just enter it in Enter the object names to select field and click on Check Names and OK button.
    File Access Denied external hard driveIf you don’t know the exact name, click on Advanced.
  6. Click on Find Now. You should now see the list of all available users and groups on your PC. Select the desired group or user from the Search results field and click on OK to save changes.
    File Access Denied Cannot take ownership
    Now click the OK button once again. The desired account will now be added to the list, and you should be able to change its security permissions.
  7. Select the desired account from Group or user names section. Now in the Permissions section on the bottom select Full control in Allow column. Click Apply and OK to save changes.
    File Access Denied Google Chrome

After granting the Full control privileges to the selected user or a group, you should be able to access the problematic file or directory without any issues.


Solution 3 – Use Command Prompt to change security permissions / ownership

If you’re having problem with File Access Denied error message, you might be able to solve the problem by using Command Prompt. Previous solutions are effective, but they have multiple steps that you need to perform if you want to change ownership over a file or a directory.

On the other hand, Command Prompt allows you to change permissions and ownership in a matter of moments with just two commands. To fix this problem using Command Prompt, you just have to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Win + X menu and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the list. If Command Prompt isn’t available, you can use PowerShell (Admin) instead.
    Windows 10 Access Denied administrator
  2. When Command Prompt opens, you need to enter takeown /f <path_to_the_folder> /r /d y and press Enter. By running this command you’ll take ownership over the selected directory or file.
    Folder Access Denied You need permission to perform this action
  3. Now enter icacls <path_to_the_folder> /grant administrators:F /T and press Enter to run it. After doing that, you’ll grant to Full control over the directory to the Administrators group. If you want to give Full control to any other user or a group, be sure to enter its name instead.
    Can't delete file Access Denied

After running these two commands, you’ll take ownership and grant Full control to the selected user or a group. In order for this command to work, you need to replace <path_to_the_folder> with the exact location of the file or directory that is giving you File Access Denied error message.

As you can see, using Command Prompt to change ownership and security permissions is a lot faster, and it can be done in a matter of moments. However, this is an advanced solution, and in order to use it, you need to enter the commands correctly.

Well, that was all for now as you have learned how to gain full file permission on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Anyway, stay close for further Windows related tips and tricks and share your thoughts with us by using the comments field from below in order to talk with us and with our readers.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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