Fix “You need permission to perform this action” error

Microsoft should have just not released Windows Vista rather than making us bear the pain of trying to use a crappy operating system. Or at least very annoying. Problems I never had in Windows XP now show up all over Vista.

One of those annoying problems is the fact that security on Windows Vista is so tight that half the time you are allowed to do normal activities! For example, there are numerous times when I am trying to perform a simple task in Vista like install a program and I end up with the following message:

You need permission to perform this action.

Why do I need permission when I already agreed to it when the other annoying UAC dialog popped up and asked me about it! Strange thing is that even if you are an Administrator, there are certain tasks or actions that Windows locks down.

you need permission to perform this action

The best part is that you do not get this error on any kind of consistent basis, it can pop up when you are trying to delete a folder, trying to copy some files, trying to install a program, etc, etc. It all comes down to not having the right security permissions.

Note that UAC (User Account Control) does not usually affect this problem, so don’t go out and automatically disable UAC. If you disable UAC, you can’t do things like share printers, etc, so it’s best to live with it.

There are some things you can do, however, to help out with the “You do not have permission to perform this action” problem though. If it’s a particular file or folder you are trying to delete, you can simply give yourself full control permissions over the file. 

But before we go into that, try one other method that might be a bit faster. Go to Start, Programs, Accessories, and right-click on the command prompt and choose Run as Administrator.

run as administrator command prompt

Now at the command prompt type the following command:

net user administrator /active:yes

Press Enter and restart your computer. Now try to perform the task again that gave you the “You do not have permission” error. If that does not work, then follow the steps below to change the file permissions.

To change the security permissions for a file, right-click on the file and go to Properties. Then click on the Security tab.

file security permissions

Now click on the Advanced button at the bottom and click on the Owner tab.

owner security tab

Click on the Edit button, click Other users and groups and type in your user account name and click Check Names

select users and groups Image Source: Vista4Beginners

Click OK and on the Owner tab make sure to check the “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” box. Now select your user account from the list on the Security tab and click Edit. Click Allow next to Full Control and click OK.

full control

Hopefully, this fixes one very annoying problem with Windows Vista. I did notice that upgrading to SP1 helped to reduce the occurrence of this error, so if you do not have SP1 installed yet, make sure to go to Windows Update. Enjoy!

  1. Ron says:

    Hi thanks for your explanation. It didn't work though. It said something about the root folder. But I stumbled accross another shared folder which worked. Putting XP back on this machine F**k vista.. Thanks anyway

  2. martin says:

    Everyday I hate Microsoft a little bit more for its backward software design which puts all users under one setting. Sharing under Vista is simply horrible. If I am the ONLY user on my PC, why in the world do I need "permission" to do anything? From Bill Gates? From God? From Britney Spears? To Microsoft: let users themselves determine what kind of setting they want!

  3. Sean says:

    Wow, thankyou ! I don't know how you did it but it worked, although after applying your solution and rebooting I still had to delete the folder in two steps. The first time I deleted the folder, it simply emptied the files. The second time I managed to get rid of the folder as well. No idea how this problem arose but you've saved me a great deal of trouble. I find it amazing that even with latest versions of Vista you don't even have control of your own computer even when you're an administrator !

  4. drew says:

    You're wrong about UAC. You can disable it fine and share printers, etc.

  5. Dorwin says:

    wow!

    Vista sucks big time!

    I just tried the entire thing a 100 times and it still said that I needed Administrators permission, when I myself am the only owner of this machine..

    the best thing is my pal tried doing something and "zaaaaaap" its resolved..

    Microsoft! Please tell me who is the owner??

    The more user friendly MS gets the more users loose their minds…

  6. Michele says:

    Thank you so much for this! I am bookmarking you guys!

  7. domefavor95 says:

    THANKS!!! My hard drive just crashed on me. This fixed it!!!!!

    THANKS
    THANKS

    five stars

  8. lula says:

    THANKS A LOT!!! this really worked out. I couldn't delete a HP Scanjet file to reinstall the printer software. Now I can!

  9. johnonly says:

    so many people used to running in root, no way these guys could handle Linux.

  10. Exumab says:

    I wish to God that there was an alternative to Microsoft.

    Win XP was fine. Vista is a "Nightmare". We need legislation to stop the myriad ways that Microsoft insists upon taking control of you and your computer. Everything that was relatively uncomplicated and user friendly in Win XP has been made infinitely more complicated and difficult in Vista. I WOULDN'T TOUCH WINDOWS 7 WITH A BARGE POLE!

    MICROSOFT sucks!

  11. da matser says:

    Thank you so much!

    I had missed the “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” box.

  12. Varl says:

    net user administrator /active:yes

    That did the trick. Thank you very much.

  13. psicho says:

    When i compleate all this I can't press OK there is written that i can't modify this file :(

  14. jpy says:

    please help me, I have video files and i want to put them on the pen drive but it can't be because it needs permission from the admin, i logged as admin but no way, the same thing, also there is mark when you go to properties of the file then general then advanced there i see encrypt contents to secure data )) is checked, and when i want to remove the mark it says that i need permission from admin, i restart and entered as admin but the same thing.

  15. Mex says:

    Awesome guide , thanks alot

  16. Soda550 says:

    I did the first step, and it worked. Now, when I restarted my computer, it opened another user and won't let me delete it.

  17. david.h42 says:

    OMG. Thank you so much. It has taken me 3 hours to figure out a way to delete my own files. Thank you!!

  18. dscotese says:

    This is the error message you get when the file you want to delete or modify is in use, such as an open executable or dll. Quite misleading! It often has nothing to do with permissions. So you just have to figure out what program is using it.

  19. BondG says:

    What you complainers fail to understand is that MS does not want to stop you from controlling your own PC. What they DO want is to stop malware from controlling your machine.

    Is Vista (or any other OS) perfect? No, of course not. But to let anyone/any process delete or replace necessary system files is foolish at best.

  20. kahuna says:

    This did not work for me. All of the permissions appear checked, but they are "grayed out," and cannot be modified.

    One thing I noticed that may be causing the problem, is that it is saying these objects are shared with another user on the system. That user is not an administrator, while my user account is.

  21. Faris says:

    Thanks Very Much. It worked Finally. :))))))

  22. Brian8M71 says:

    On Windows 7, right click the file or folder and select Properties – Security tab – Advanced button – Owner – Edit – and Select you as Owner. Then, click Apply and OK.

    Exit all the way back out to Windows Explorer, right click the file or folder again and select Properties – Security tab. Then, click Edit to change permission – click Add – Find your name – click OK – Then, check full permission.

    I did this when trying to take pics and videos off a hard drive from Windows XP onto Windows 7.

  23. ivan4th says:

    Vista – worked just as described. Thanks!

  24. Aritra says:

    I just can't change any security options for certain exe files. I work on Visual Basic. When it creates an exe file, it's just permanent! Now when I debug the program, the existing exe file is not overwritten, so I can't run the program!!

    This doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it just sucks. :(

    Please help.

  25. Linda says:

    Ahhhh. Thank you soooo much! (:

  26. Nevor says:

    Hi guys!

    I needed, as well, to delete and I tried all the solutions I found on the net. Nothing worked!

    However, I remembered there is a solution to delete/replace/move any file from your computer, no matter the Windows version you have: F8. That means press F8 when you start the computer. That allows you to enter Safe Mode, where you can do anything with any of the files.

    It works for me. Maybe it will work for you, too.

  27. Me says:

    Hi guys. I just had the same problem but I've managed to sort it out.

    I had a folder on my desktop that I couldn't delete, rename, whatever. I just drag it to my pictures and that's it!!!

    Then I could rename it or delete it!!!

    Try it out!

  28. Jumpin Outta Windows says:

    Didn't work. I followed the instructions step-by-step. I have full control and still get the error popping up repeatedly, even after I confirm it in UAC: You need permission to perform this action.

    But, I never can get that permission.

  29. Jumpin Outta Windows says:

    Wait. I just re-ran the command line instruction, rebooted and it worked! I was able to actually rename the folder that I had "full control" over (whereas I couldn't rename it previously even though I had taken "full control"). As the saying goes, if you can be root, reboot! Ha Ha.

    Thanks!!

  30. Danger Duck says:

    You Are The Man. Thank you for sharing your insight into how to take back control of this Train Wreck named Vista.

  31. ZarCus84 says:

    I got this problem too! And I really was going ballistic!

    But I found out that it’s not the file or the USERS, it’s my antivirus. I'm using AVG and the (AVG RESIDENT SHIELD) detected that there is a virus on it every time I copy the file, but actually the file is clean so I opened AVG and turned off (RESIDENT SHIELD) and VIOLA!!! It works!

    Just try it out if you have the same antivirus or something! TESTED!

  32. Stanley See says:

    Thanks for help…Gonna change my OS to window 7…Vista really sucks!!

  33. justAthought says:

    you could also try Killbox (missing ocx? look on killbox's site for the ocx). Killbox will delete a lot of things that can't be deleted normally. Plus you can set it to delete on reboot. Both folders and files can be deleted. If it is a virus file you can even have it replaced with a dummy file so if the reg entry tries to run the file at startup it will not be able to.

  34. Keek says:

    OMG, this was driving me nuts. I had just created a folder and unzipped some files in it. A few minutes later I wanted to delete them. I could delete all but 1 .exe and 2 .dll files. Your tips on running the command line as administrator, typing: net user administrator /active:yes, re-booting, then deleting the files worked like a charm. I love help desk geeks that share their knowledge. Thank you so much.

  35. Neetesh Dadwariya says:

    but this doesn't work. I followed step by step but I am unable to resolve the problem.

  36. Tedy says:

    Any Idea how to delete the new account that appeared after restart. Help Please. Didn't work for me.

  37. Radu says:

    what did your friend do to solve the problem?

  38. Mark Ainsworth says:

    I kept getting this message attempting to rename a folder. The folder was created by Visual Studio 10 (which I run as administrator — I think this is why I have the problem). I have not tried the permanent solution (net user administrator) yet because that requires a reboot and I am too impatient for that.

    What I did do was run command prompt as administrator and execute the old dos command: rename oldname newname. It liked that.

  39. Blake says:

    Great Guide!! Thanks for the help.

  40. luke says:

    legend!! you have saved me 3 weeks of hurt with that!!!! :)

  41. Ava says:

    This did not work for me at all, I went to everything step by step. I hope Windows 7 is not like this at all.

  42. SJ says:

    Help! I have the same result as Soda550 and Tedy – a useless “Administrator” icon on my startup page. I didn’t want un-password protected access to my laptop, so I logged into my usual account (with admin control) “Manage another account” and tried to delete the new account …NO delete button or command. So I tried to give it a password but NO such luck. It provides ONE FORM FIELD to create a password, then another asking to create a “password hint”. Imputing anything in that field results in an error, saying the password doesn’t match. Guess I could remove the password – but that gets me back to having an unprotected Administrator icon (which I don’t want). BTW this new account won’t let me log in.

    Thanks for helping me delete a file… but PLEASE help me un-do what you inspired me to do – creating a useless Administrator account.

  43. Bruno says:

    One solution works for me on Windows 7 :

    Right click the hard disk drive,
    ==> Properties / Tools / Check now
    ….
    And then try to delete again, it should work.

  44. SJ says:

    Found the fix… In order to stop the Administrator account from showing as a login option on the Welcome Screen in Windows Vista you need to set the Administrator account to not active with the net user command from an Administrative cmd prompt as follows: net user Administrator /active:no

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