Easily Take Ownership of Files and Folders in Windows 7

Starting with Windows Vista, Microsoft implemented additional security for files and folders to prevent accidental or intentional modification of files and folders. Users other than the owner of a file or folder are not allowed to access it.

Therefore, in order to edit system files and folders, you need to take ownership of them. There is a Security tab when you open the Properties dialog box for a folder or a file, that allows you to take ownership of files and folders and change permissions. However, there is a free utility, called Ownership Changer, that makes this process easier.

Security for folder Properties

NOTE: You may need to take ownership of a folder such as AppData to allow programs to write data to their respective folders. However, taking ownership of system folders and files can be dangerous. Be careful when taking ownership and changing permissions that you don’t change or delete files or folders that could affect programs or even affect Windows itself.

Download Ownership Changer from


Ownership Changer does not need to be installed. To run it, simply unzip the file you downloaded and double-click on the Ownership Changer.exe file.

Ownership Changer executable file

On the User Account Control dialog box click Yes to allow Ownership Changer to run and make changes.

User Account Control dialog box for Ownership Changer

The Ownership Changer main window displays. Click the Choose button to select a file or folder of which you want to take ownership.

Choose button on Ownership Changer

On the File or Folder? dialog box select whether you want to take ownership of a file or a folder by clicking one of the buttons. We are choosing Folder for this example.

Selecting a file or a folder

If you selected folder, the Browse For Folder dialog box displays. Navigate to the folder of which you want to take ownership, select it, and click OK.

Browsing for a folder

NOTE: If you select to take ownership of a file, the Please Select a File dialog box displays. Navigate to the desired file, select it and click Open.

Selecting a file

Once you have selected the file or folder, click the Take Ownership button.

Clicking the Take Ownership button

A command prompt window displays and shows the progress of taking of ownership for the selected file or folder. If you selected a folder, it may take a while, depending on how many files are in that folder. Ownership Changer takes ownership of all the files within the selected folder as well as of the folder.

The progress of taking ownership of a folder

When the take ownership process is finished, you are returned to the Ownership Changer main window and a message displays saying that ownership has been granted. Click the Set Permissions button to obtain full permissions of the selected file or folder.

Clicking the Set Permissions button

Another message displays on the main windows saying that full permissions have been granted. You will be able to modify the selected file or folder now. To close Ownership Changer, click Quit.

Full Permissions granted

NOTE: There is also a new GUI (graphical user interface) available you can access by selecting Enable New GUI from the Options menu.

Enabling the new GUI

You can view the new GUI; however, the Readme file says that as of September 12, 2010, the new GUI was not functional yet. We tried it and the options for opening a file or a folder did not work yet. The legacy GUI works fine, however.

by Lori Kaufman

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