Folder Access Denied: How to delete any folder in Windows

One of the most bemusing errors in Windows is the infamous “You require permission from blah blah blah to make changes to this folder“.

The irony is that even the almighty Administrator isn’t exempt from this problem.

You thought signing into your box as an Admin gave your carte blanche access to the kingdom didn’t you?  You thought the administrator had unfettered and absolute reign over the entire file system didn’t you? You thought the omnipotent admin could do virtually anything in Windows right?

I know I did, that’s why I was so incensed the first time I encountered this error.

What do you mean I can’t perform this action? I’m the damn Administrator of this computer! I demand my rights!

Hey, you’re not alone.  The error is annoying that it’s almost crass.

In this guide I’m going to show you how to get reclaim your authority as the administrator of your computer.

Two approaches

The first thing you need to do is take ownership of the folder you want to axe.  In one deft move we’re going to take over the folder and bend it into submission.

It’s time to make this stupid error desist!

Windows 8.1 Folder Access Denied

Right click on the folder you want to banish to oblivion and choose Properties.

Under the Security tab click the Advanced button

Windows 8.1 Folder Properties Security tab

Along the top of the Advanced Security Settings dialog box for the folder you’ll see the Name and Owner.  In my case, someone named TrustedInstaller has exclusive rights to this folder.

Who is this TrustedInstaller guy?

Windows 8.1 Advanced Security Settings

The TrustedInstaller is a built-in account which installs, modifies and removes Windows updates and components. But here’s the thing: if the TrustedInstaller is the owner of a folder then you shouldn’t take ownership of that folder unless you really know what you’re doing; that’s because if you rename and delete such a folder you may render your system unusable.

I’m going change the ownership of this folder for this demonstration but in reality you shouldn’t ever need to do this on your computer.

Incidentally, if you’re running Windows 7 or Vista you can change the owner by clicking the Owner tab and choosing the Edit button.

Windows 7 Advanced Security Settings

Back in Windows 8.1, enter the user name you want to takeover ownership then click the Check Names button and choose OK.

Windows 8.1 Select User or Group

You’ll get whisked back to the Advanced Security Settings screen but notice the owner is updated and there’s a little checkbox under it called Replace owner on subcontainers and objects.

Make sure you put a little check in there so you become the owner of not only the parent folder but everything in it too.

Windows 8.1 Advanced Security Settings Replace owner on subcontainers and objects

Alright now click Apply.

Windows will bark at you about reopening the properties before you can change permissions.

Windows security box

That’s what we’re going to do next, click OK and and close out of all the windows except for the one that shows the folder you want to access.

If you try to delete it you’ll get an even sillier error message this time:

Folder Access Denied can't delete folder

Notice it says that I require permission from FBV-PC\Vonnie to make changes to this folder.  This message invariably shows up no matter how many times I click Try Again.

What the!!?!?

Ok so we have one more step to fix this inane problem… we basically need to explicitly give ourselves Full Control of the folder.

Right click on the folder again, choose Properties, go back to the Security tab and click the Advanced button.

Back in the Advanced Security Settings window select the user you want to allow from the Permission entries list and make sure Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object is checked (highlighted in yellow below).

Then click the Edit button.

Advanced Security Settings replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object

Now in the Permission Entry window check Full control and click OK all the way through until all the permissions and properties windows are closed.

Windows 8.1 Permission Entry Full Control

If you see a nebulous message about inheritance click Yes.

Windows is cordially informing you that any permissions defined on any subfolders are going to be overridden by the permissions you defined at this top level folder… which in my case is Windows Media Player.

Windows 8.1 Explicitly Defined Permissions

Now you can delete the folder you wanted without Windows nagging you about permissions.

Get Unlocker

If this doesn’t work for some reason try using Cedrick Collomb’s excellent freeware program called Unlocker. Unlocker has been tested and works great on Windows XP, Vista and 7 but I’m not sure if it works in Windows 8.

Just make sure you pay attention when going through the installation tool because if you blithely click Next through each screen you’ll unwittingly install adware on your computer.

Make sure you click Skip on these…

Windows 8.1 Unlocker Adware

I actually managed to install Unlocker on my Windows 8.1 box without any issues.

Windows Unlocker

If a program is running in memory and you try to delete the folder that contains the executable Windows will shrug its shoulders and spit on you:

The action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program.

Windows 8.1 Unlocker Deleting an Open Folder

Just right click the folder and choose Unlocker from the menu to delete it.

The Bottom Line

When Windows says “No” it not only sucks but also conjures morbid memories of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In Arthur C. Clarke’s famous Space Odyssey series,  HAL was the ultrasmart computer that made the unilateral decision to kill the astronauts when Hal learned it was about to be disconnected.

Admittedly, computers haven’t evolved to that point – yet – but it’s still disconcerting when Windows refuses to do something even when you feel you have the permissions to do so.

I hope this article helped you get your sanity back.  If it helped you in any way (or you have questions), I’d love to hear about in the comments!

Happy Friday all.

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Posted in Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Vista Tagged with:
  • Pingback: How to fix the "You'll need to provide administrator permission to copy to this folder" error | fixedByVonnie()

  • Aydro

    WORKS PERFECTLY, THANK YOU!!

  • hello. i had this problem for a while. i was able to solve it by doing the following

  • go to the parent folder, right click and then go to properties, Advanced Sharing and then to permission and then under permissions for every one click Full Control, click ok and ok and ok to.

  • Chris

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks a lot for this post. Nothing worked so I installed Unlocker worked like a charm. 😀

  • Cirrus

    Don’t download the unlocker, it’s a virus

  • Cirrus

    Don’t download the unlocker, it’s a virus!

  • khaled

    that’s is ”Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object” thanks

  • Robert A Mitchell

    Unlocker does work in Windows 8 and 8.1. Very useful tool.

  • Bembenk Dooggys Stylee

    lord help me I have a problem like this
    http://www.4shared.com/rar/dTMJgdELce/KecilJPG.html

  • Peter

    It works great! Today I also discover another utility – TakeOwnershipPro. It allows me to take ownership of folders or files from Explorer’s right-click context menu. It’s worth a try.

  • pluviosilla

    This is the ONLY page I’ve found that solved my problem. The Microsoft forum discussion has pages and pages of people telling you have to do the first step (change ownership) without addressing the “What the !!!(*&@” refusal to allow you to delete files *you* *own*. Their forum is also full of the obligatory prissy nagging about not changing the Windows directory that you hear from people who want to strike a pose as being in the Microsoft in-group and having a mature knowledge of security risks that the unwashed masses don’t understand. THANK YOU for speaking to us like adults and providing a real solution.

  • Rootnx

    Thanks alot…this article is a life saver…

  • Zoudan

    Jeez, 3 months and you just solved the problem… best post ever

  • thatguy

    It doesn’t work with all folders as the title says. I’ll post a solution if I can find one but I inadvertently created a folder (I only run as ‘admin’) which I cannot remove or change ownership. I can’t even see who owns the folder.

  • james x

    ……….HOLY Smoke………..It works!!!!!!!!!!!!Thank you so much!

  • Lee Murray

    Yes. This solution worked. Thanks heaps 🙂

  • Katrina

    I fix this by Long Path Tool, try it as an alternative.

  • Jake Thomas

    This does not help. I cannot change the owner, and the owner is unknown.

  • Gianluca Horrocks

    Had a damn file stuck on my desktop for God knows how long. Decided to eventually try and find a solution and the first site I went on actually fixed it. I should’ve done this a long time ago! xD

  • Jack Rose

    I can’t delete the folders, I’m running windows 7 vista home premium, can anyone help me out please

  • Jens Sebbar

    I downloaded a weak software to lock folders with passwords a while ago on W8, and when I uninstalled it left a folder that I could not delete, rename or move, and it was really bothering me. All of the properties steps didn’t help, but the program Unlocker did the job in a dozen of seconds. Thank you very much.

  • Khushwant Kumar

    Thanks for this Post. It is really very helpful.

  • Joe Wayne

    how do i delete this stubborn windows,old folder in windows 10 platform…. i upgraded my windows 8 to 10 and since then nothing have beared any fruit when i try to delete this folder this message still comes try again

  • hunter

    Thanx its worked for me.

  • You sir are a legend

  • ajay

    very easy to delete this type of file or folder, just rename by pressing
    F2 and SHIFT+ DELETE, rename whenever error massege is coming. WOW….
    SOLVED…

  • kimberly

    This didn’t work for me. The problem I’ve been having is the folder says I need permission from flower/KIM (which is my user name) I’m the only user and obviously the admin. this is soooo fustrating

    • Thomas Maher

      well there is technically a hidden account that wont show on the computer but shows in user area when you create or delete new users

  • Maps Spamwell

    Wish this worked to nuke the McAfee DLP folder, but they have that locked down to much apparently.

    • PJ Thompson

      use the Unlocker Vonnie mentioned above…it’ll unlock it and then it disappears when you restart/reboot your pc

  • I_Need_to_read_more

    Thank you. These are the only instructions I could find to delete the folders.

  • Alejandro Dervissoglou

    I’m desesperated. I’ve done everything but an error applying security appears when I finished
    “failed to enumerate objects in the countainer. Acces denied” I need help please

  • AMiNE

    Thanks ^_^, that was very helpful 🙂

  • Aditya Naik

    Thanks, Vonnie!

  • tsub-tech-pro

    or ya know… you could just move the folder to your desktop. It’s what I did. I gave my self “full control” still got there error, said screw it and moved it to the desktop, and what do ya know… it deleted.

    • tsub-tech-pro

      I am referring to windows 10 by the way

    • ellixpy

      i think u just deleted a file that u copied onto the desktop. that doesnt do aanything

      • tsub-tech-pro

        Its called move not copy. If i copied it to the desktop then you would be correct, but no. I moved it. You know..
        When you take an original file and move it. The original file itself gets relocated. Not copied. I remember because i made a killing($$) doing it for people.

  • Chris Walsh

    The retarded part is that this error has persisted into Windows 10. These idiots should solve it the way every single person wants this to be solved except for Bill Gates: Administrator rights mean I should be able to modify or delete any damned thing on my computer. PERIOD.

  • PJ Thompson

    The “Unlocker” prog is a great program…worked like a charm…

  • Nealsu

    Hi Vonnie, I can actually see the folder in explorer. I was able to navigate to a sub folder that contained a file I was deleting but this parent folder was not visible and i had set show hidden files. Any ideas about this phantom folder?

  • Nealsu

    Hi Vonnie, I can actually see the folder in explorer, Windows 10. I was able to navigate to a sub folder that contained a file I was deleting but this parent folder was not visible and i had set show hidden files. Any ideas about this phantom folder?

  • Nealsu

    Hi Vonnie, I can’t actually see the folder in explorer, Windows 10. I was able to navigate to a sub folder that contained a file I was deleting but this parent folder was not visible and i had set show hidden files. Any ideas about this phantom folder?

  • Alex Windsor

    Thanks. I was able to delete the “Windows” system folder by following these steps.
    (Folder was on a different hard drive that I no longer needed windows installed on.)

  • fdsa

    dont download “unlocker” it is filled with crapware, and at the end of all that, it is worthless at deleting these files.

  • Richard

    I was following the steps in your article about folder access denied.

    1 changed Owner to Adminstrator-me

    2. tried to delete

    3. got message need to provide adminstrator permission to delete

    this folder

    4. went to Advanced Security Settings for oobe, but only have

    Change permissions and View buttons. There is not an edit button on my windows 8.1 version

  • Joshua Whiteley

    It doesn’t say that TrustedInstaller is the owner, it says my account has full control but I still can’t delete it. I also used my administrator account which has access to all files on the PC, no exceptions and yet, I still cannot delete it.

  • anonymous

    After several attempts.. Simple way to delete Windows or any critical folder is to change the ownership to “Everyone” in the users listed above and then press Shift+Delete. That’s it.

  • Ejaz Shah

    Now this is the real experience.. I appreciate your expertise…
    Great job… BIG THANKS…

  • Mucho Junk

    This may be an old thread but this truly helped me with a stubborn file within Windows 10… neither method above would work for me… used Unlocker and BAM!! Folder has been deleted.

    Also, the link above when clicked may state in windows as a malicious site. Just google Unlocker and download the lastest version that is listed above.

    Thanks Vonnie.Com!!!!

  • Andrew Lilley

    They say every problem has a solution and Unlocker provided mine. Everything else failed to let me delete a useless file in 8.1 pro but Unlocker worked. I ran it as is and not in compatibility with 7 – so it works with 8 as well . Many thanks.

  • Olsen

    GREAT – it worked!

  • Nick Aschenbecker

    My hardware abstraction layer has never tried to kill me. lol I had to make the joke, sorry. Odd thing, Microsoft naming it that. But Bill Gates must have a lot of faith in Asimov…
    The first thing I tried was using UNLOCKER. I’m an outspoken advocate of it and have been a fan for nigh on a decade. It does work with 8 and, by extension, 8.1. The problem is if you are trying to delete massive files (like say you’ve relegated an old laptop HDD to an enclosure for use as a massive thumb drive and you want to delete everything on it except My Documents) it will take longer than forever. The roundabout way (and ain’t it the roundaboutest?) is the only option in such a unique case. I even tried creating a new partition and copying over My Documents (but it was like 200 GB) and it said it would take days before I could format the old partition and remerge.
    NEwayZ, hopefully some frustrated individual will find some use in my observations.

  • Adam Cole

    Very helpful summary! One other possibility to consider is that the file or folder is locked or otherwise obscurely “in use”. I’ve encountered this issue from time to time in Win 7–Typically, I’ll delete an ordinary folder plus contents, then see it’s still there at 0KB size and is now undeletable.

    I’ve noticed that closing all File Explorer windows, closing all applications, and/or rebooting the machine (in order of escalation) will often “complete” the deletion process and make the ghost folder disappear. Sometimes I’ve arrived at this after having tried all the “take owner” and “grant full control” stuff recommended here to no avail.

  • Roor

    There is a free tool that can do this job with one click (BeOwner file and folder ownership tool) here :
    http://forgedsoft.com/BeOwner-Mass-file-permission-reset-tool

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    Installing unlocker worked. Available at File Hippo.

  • rblevin

    Worked like a charm. Thank you.

  • Darko Herak

    Thank you 🙂 Didn’t think of changing permissions, after taking ownership. Came by myself to the WHAT THE!?!?!? part then decided to google tha answer which led me here. Thx!

  • Ryad Arlan

    Thanks. Look at the end of the day it is just the Military fighting to regain control of the internet again. If anything it not only are these people securing the communications and information between themselves bu they have snagged a vast chunk of the worlds population.

    The internet “Supposedly” got out of control and the world chewed it up at incredible rates. Computer tech is the fasted developing entity in the history of humanity.

    It was pumped out into the world and the world consumed it and everyone trying everything and the few that selectively picked what they needed out of it and occasionally threw out an idea seed for the world to digest and spit back out after millions of users threw in their 2 cents worth a command line becomes a mega corp heavy duty monster of a creation.

    People love getting a little pat on the back and some do remarkable things for it.

    Society is so docile and trained. Religion has nothing on what tech is doing and quite ironically no one is in control so technically technology is an entity that is feeding on us to grow.

    Artificial
    Intelligent
    ?

    It has its tentacles in everything from power supply, medical, media, roads and traffic, aviation, shipping, logistics…

    People all over the world are disconnected from humanity and more connected to the technology.

    False sense of power, false hopes, false paths…

    All working together to destroy each other.

    Yet tech grows.
    Everyone wants better equipment and we go out of our way for it but not another person.

    Artificial Intelligence.

    If humans were that smart they would be intelligent but no one see’s it.

    And if you did you would end up in a psyche ward because then you could do something about it and that would make you a threat.

    Terrorist!

    • Nad

      It worked. Thank you 🙂

  • denis

    i didn’t understand why it’s so hard to remove folder which you created. I think is to complicated. Need to search all internet for one thing.

  • Chris H.

    Thanks! Unlocker did the trick for me. I couldn’t get rid of some old Spotify Install files and this finally allowed me to!

  • AlexTheAnonymous

    Unlocker was the one that fixed mine :p

  • Mayank Gupta

    nothing worked for me…..
    plzzz help meeeeee

    • ellixpy

      run cmd as admin and type:

      takeown /f C:directory2delete /r /d y
      icacls C:directory2delete /grant %username%:f /t /c

  • Thomas Maher

    get an error when i try to delete it

  • Adriana Albarella

    My HD was damaged and I had to replace it, but I still could access it through an external case. When I tried to copy my old HD files, I got the slap “You don’t have permission” message. You fixed it, Vonnie, thanx!

  • Nuno Rebelo

    There’s an easy method:
    1. Change the Windows folder name to Windows.old
    2. Run disk cleanup
    3. Clean system files and select the drive
    4. Delete old versions of windows

    This method works on most folders that wont delete, like Program Files, just change the folder name to Windows.old and repeat the process.

  • Shekar K

    THANK YOU SO MUCH

  • Yukino Takada

    right,I forgot this thing called unlocker exist,it solve everything

  • Ken J Boyd

    Thanks Vonnie! Don’t know how I could be getting thru the “2016 Win Crisis” w/o the info you have provided!

  • Erwin Vomberg

    Another solution is to use Total Commander. Slap the resisting folder with this one and Windows is done. I have no clue what and how they do it, but they do. Thats all I am interested in. Unlocker sometimes needs ages to unlock a folder. TC does it no questions asked. I dont want to wade through that whole take-ownership-BS, way to many clicks and I have to read it up everytime a folder misbehaves.

  • William

    Still didn’t work

  • korey

    is there a solution for the first method with windows 10? i got as far as the “one more step” but there is no edit button under permission entries. gonna try installing unlocker and hope that that fixes the problem (fyi I am trying to remove some Steam files from my Program Files x86 folder because they are not letting me reintall steam otherwise)

  • Joshua Oster

    My issue appears to be worse than everyone else’s. I can’t change the admin; ‘Access denied’. Really.

    • Ken J Boyd

      Your issues are no different, it is just that MS keeps changing things to make sure that they have full control of every Win computer. And there are many things that should not be posted in a public forum until what is now called “The Tech Privacy War” has been won. It just helps them fix their holes in the OS. If you are still struggling, send me a private message on Linkedin. I am not hard to find.

  • Benny Feit

    Well, attempting this it told me that I didn’t have the access to give myself access back.

    • Ken J Boyd

      I have been trapped in the same loop. See my message to Joshua Oster.

  • Chien Wei Huang

    This didn’t help at all, it already asked me to continue as admin but won’t let me access it. It asked me to continue as admin, I click continue. It then runs, but suddenly stops and says access denied. I’m the fucking admin. I’m getting sick of this. this happened to my laptop before and Its still not fixed. what a system. I just ended up not able to delete the folder on my laptop. couldn’t find a solution at all.

    • Ken J Boyd

      Vonnie Hudson was the hero who started this forum, saying the same stuff, but sadly he obviously is not with us anymore. He is very brilliant, but MS is threatening anyone who stands in the way of their agenda now. Their hatred of me is incredible. See my message to Joshua Oster.

  • Jack

    Windows is really going to fucking shit. Now I have to install a third-party program to perform such a basic task like deleting a folder.

  • Mike Hargrave

    I’m using Windows 10. I have always been able to hit the windows button and R and type in %temp% and it brings up all of my temp files. I hit Ctrl A to highlight them all and hit delete and it deletes all but a few that are in use. I recently installed IPVANISH and now, everything says I need permission to delete them and I have close to 10 gigs of files. How can I do this a quicker way without having to right click on each and every file? This will take forever this way.

    Thanks

    Mike

  • Bass Machine

    Unlocker is the sh!t. None of that permissions changing, nor Helge Klein’s SetACLStudio could conquer the obstinate folder, but Unlocker did. Thanks for the tip!

  • KreatorB

    NONE OF THESE OPTIONS WORKED! I am still stuck with a file I can not unloack, delete or change permissions on!!!

  • Ken J Boyd

    MS is intent on users AND SysAdmins being locked out of thousands of files, because they are intent on ending the whole concept of personal computers. All of the methods in this forum worked at one time, but have been “fixed” by MS’s tens of thousands of programmers working 24/7/365 to take control of our computers away from us & make them function primarily as drones in the MS cloud. They call it “The Current Control Set” and it is constantly updated thru the “trusted” “security” updates. But try to stop the updates from coming in, & you will see how viscous they can really be.

  • ellixpy

    im feeling generous, two lines of code to put into cmd (when run as admin) which lets you delete a system folder

    takeown /f C:directory2delete /r /d y
    icacls C:directory2delete /grant %username%:f /t /c

    then just go over and browse your way into the file you want to delete/edit/view and do what u want.

    just thought this was a quick easy way, doing it normally is too long 4 me

  • Gareth Owen

    Can’t find anywhere to download Unlocker from – just get sent around in loops :'(

  • Johannes Bols

    MALWARE! MALWARE! MALWARE!MALWAREMALWARE! MALWARE! MALWARE!! MALWARE! MALWARE!MALWARE! MALWARE! MALMALWARE! MALWARE! MALWARE!WARE!MALWARE! MALWARE! MALWARE!MALWARE! MALWARE! MALWARE!

  • theanonomous

    It didn’t work for me… I still had permission denied with both methods.