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

Elsie Otachi By: Elsie Otachi
5 minute read
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.

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

  1. You get an access denied error message
  2. Cannot access, change, save, or delete files/folders
  3. Cannot open a file/folder after upgrading to a higher Windows version

1. You get an access denied error message

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 as green, it indicates that someone has encrypted it to block access.  Only the person that encrypted it can decrypt it.

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 these steps:

  • Right click on the folder that you want to take ownership of, then tap Properties.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Click the Security tab

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Click Advanced

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Click Change. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • Type the name of the person that you want to give ownership to, and then click Check Names. The account name for the person that you are assigning ownership to is displayed.
  • Click OK.
  • If you want this person to be the owner of the files and subfolders that are contained in this folder, select the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects check box.
  • Click OK.

If you don’t have appropriate permissions, check permissions on the file/folder by doing the following:

  • Right-click the file or folder, and then click Properties.
  • Click the Security tab

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Under Group or user names, click your name to see the permissions that you have.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

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

  • Log on as an administrator
  • Right-click the file or folder, and then tap or click Properties.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Click the Security tab

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Under Group or user names, click your name to see the permissions that you have.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Click Edit, click your name, select the check boxes for the permissions that you must have, and then click OK.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

If the file or folder is encrypted, you cannot open it without the certificate that was used to encrypt it. Here’s how to determine if it is encrypted:

  • Right-click the file or folder, and then click Properties.
  • Click the General tab

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10


For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patented Technologies (requires upgrade).

  • Click Advanced.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

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.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

2. Cannot access, change, save, or delete files/folders

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 it or restore it 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.

Here’s how to create a local user account:

  • Click Start and select Settings
  • Click Accounts

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Select Family and Other people

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Click Add someone else to this PC

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Fill in the form with the user name and password. Your new user account will be created.
  • Click on Change account type
  • Click the drop down arrow to set the account to local user level
  • Restart your computer

Login to the new account you just created and see if you can access the file or folder.

3. Cannot open a file/folder after upgrading to a newer Windows version

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 doing the following to recover the files:

  • Click Start and open File Explorer, and then click This PC

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Double click the drive that Windows is installed on (typically, drive C).
  • Double click the Windows.old folder.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Double click the Users folder.

You don't have permission to open this file in Windows 10

  • Double click your user name.
  • Open the folders that contain the files you want to retrieve. For example, to retrieve files in the Documents folder, double click Documents.
  • Copy the files you want from each folder and paste them to a folder in Windows 10. For example, if you want to retrieve everything from the Documents folder, copy all the files and folders from the Documents folder in the Windows.old folder, and then paste them to the Documents library in Windows 10.
  • Repeat these last three steps for each user account on your computer

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

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For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patented Technologies (requires upgrade).

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