FIX: You don’t have permission to open this file in Windows 10

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
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FIX: You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10
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If you’ve ever tried to access your files and/or folders in Windows and received an Access denied error message, or you cannot access/change/save or delete files or folders, or just can’t open a file or folder after upgrading or installing a new version of Windows, this article is for you.

Specifically, this applies to you if you’ve experienced the You don’t have permission to open this file in Windows 10 error message.

It may be an issue of file and folder permissions, but there are basic permissions like full control, modify, read and execute, or read, and write, while folder permissions are the same, with an extra one to list folder contents.

Whenever you work with file and folder permissions, you should consider that read is the only permission to run scripts, read access is for accessing shortcuts and their targets, write but not delete prevents users from deleting file contents, while full control means the user can delete files regardless of permissions on them.

These permissions are created by combining special permissions in logical groups. If no access is granted or denied, then the user is denied access. Permissions set for parent folders force all files and subfolders in it to inherit the permissions.

So there’s quite a lot that goes unnoticed whenever file sharing and permissions are involved, but check out some of the issues and solutions to resolve the problem.

How do I open files on Windows 10?

  1. Use File Viewer
  2. You get an access denied error message
  3. Cannot make changes to files/folders
  4. Cannot open a file/folder after updating Windows

1. Use File Viewer Plus

The first thing you should do is install File Viewer. The software is an easy-to-use file reader that can access different formats from other versions as recent ones. It also has a file identifier that can search for information regarding any new and unknown formats.

Moreover, it has a feature that inspects the content of the files before u open them. With File Viewer, you can open, edit, save, and convert your files.

The program will open over 300 formats, such as PDFs, spreadsheets, images, audio and video files, source code files, word processing documents, and much more. You can also convert many files at once if you use the Plus variant of the software.

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2. You get an access denied error message

  1. Right-click the file or folder, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Security tab.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is security-1.png
  3. Under Group or user names, click your name to see the permissions that you have.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is group-user-permissions-1.png

Note: To open a file, you need to have Read permission. To change the permissions of a file or folder, follow these steps.

  1. Log on as an Administrator.
  2. Right-click the file or folder, and then tap or click Properties.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is properties-folder-1-1.png
  3. Click the Security tab.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is security-1.png
  4. Under Group or user names, click your name to see the permissions that you have.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is group-user-permissions-1.png
  5. Click Edit, click your name, select the checkboxes for the permissions that you must have, and then click OK.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is edit-1.png

This can happen either because the file/folder ownership has changed, you don’t have appropriate permissions, or the file is encrypted. When the file displays green, it indicates that someone has encrypted it to block access.  Only the person that encrypted it can decrypt it.

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If you recently upgraded to a higher version of Windows, some account information may have changed, so you may no longer have ownership of some files or folders.  In order to resolve it, take ownership of a file or folder using the aforementioned steps.

File or folder is encrypted

  1. Right-click the file or folder, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the General tab.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is general-tab-1.png
  3. Click Advanced.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is advanced-general-tab-1.png
  4. In the Advanced Attributes tab, check if the encryption is checked.

Note: If the file or folder is encrypted, you cannot open it without the certificate that was used to encrypt it. Use the aforementioned steps to determine if it was encrypted.

If the Encrypt contents to secure data check box is selected, you’ll need the certificate that was used to encrypt the file or folder to be able to open it. In this case, get the certificate from the person who created or encrypted the file or folder, or have them decrypt it.

3. Cannot make changes to files/folders

  1. Click Start and select Settings.
  2. Click Accounts.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is accounts-2-1.png
  3. Select Family and Other people.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is family-and-other-people-1.png
  4. Click Add someone else to this PC.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is add-someone-else-to-this-PC-2-1.png
  5. Fill in the form with the user name and password. Your new user account will be created.
  6. Click on Change account type.
  7. Click the drop-down arrow to set the account to the local user level
  8. Restart your computer.
  9. Login to the new account you just created and see if you can access the file or folder.

This could happen for several reasons including that the file is encrypted or corrupted, you have no appropriate permissions, or the folder ownership has changed.

You can use the steps in solution 2 if the file is encrypted, or you have no appropriate permissions, or the folder ownership has changed.

However, if the file/folder is corrupted, it could be that you have an open file when your computer crashes or loses power. Most such files cannot be repaired, so you can either delete them or restore them from a backup copy.

If your user profile is corrupted, Windows may prevent you from accessing files or folders, so you need to use a new user profile by first creating a local user account, which in turn creates a user profile.

4. Cannot open a file/folder after updating Windows

  1. Click Start and open File Explorer, and then click This PC.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is this-pc-1.png
  2. Double click the drive that Windows is installed on (typically, drive C).
  3. Double click the Windows.old folder.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is windowsold-1.png
  4. Double click the Users folder.
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is users-folder-1.png
  5. Double click your user name.
  6. Open the folders that contain the files you want to retrieve.
  7. Copy the files you want from each folder and paste them into a folder in Windows 10
  8. Repeat these last three steps for each user account on your computer

This happens when folder ownership changes or the files are being stored in a Windows.old folder from your previous operating system. But if you didn’t reformat the hard disk, you may still be able to access old files from this folder.

For steps on how to change folder ownership, see previous solutions above.  To check if files are stored in Windows. old folder, you can run an automatic Fix it, or fix it yourself by following the aforementioned steps.

These were four easy-to-follow solutions that should help you open any type of file without problem. There are many things you can do to open unknown files.

Let us know if any of these solutions helped fix the file permissions issue on your computer by leaving a comment in the section below.

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