Changing User Permissions for a File

by Barry Dysert
(last updated February 29, 2016)


In Windows, every file has an associated security profile that determines who is allowed access to the file, and what kind of access (e.g., read or write) a user is entitled to. If you are an administrator or have Control access to the file, you can change the file's permissions, thereby allowing or denying certain types of access to the file.

To see a file's permissions, right-click on the file and choose Properties. Windows displays the Properties dialog box, in which you should display the Security tab. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Permissions of "a.xlsx" for user Test.

This particular screen shot shows that for user "Test", they have Read & execute and Read access to the file "a.xlsx". To deny that user access to "a.xlsx", click the Edit button, and again select user Test. You then have the option to change the permissions. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Editing permissions of "a.xlsx" for user Test.

Using the controls in the Permissions dialog box you can modify what the selected user or group can do with the file. For instance, if you want to stop the Test user from opening the a.xlsx file, all you need to do is click the checkboxes in the Deny column for both Read & Execute and Read. When you apply the changes, any subsequent attempts by the Test user to open the file result in an error message. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. User Test's denial of access to "a.xlsx".

 This tip (5827) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...


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What is four less than 4?

2016-03-02 08:16:01

chris kelly

Thanks, Barry. No, files are not usually open when I try and delete or move. Mostly the ones I want to delete are old backup files not ever opened.
Thanks for your response, though.

2016-03-01 06:53:40


Chris, that is a perplexing problem. Is it possible that the file you're trying to access is open in another process and that maybe the error message is throwing you off?

2016-03-01 05:24:55

chris kelly

Thanks for this piece on changing permissions. I knew about this but have a harder permissions problem no one seems able to solve - perhaps you can.
I have a NAS and in trying to keep it tidy try and delete (or move) files on it. Quite often (but not always) I go to delete a file or folder and it comes back with 'You need permission to perform this action. You require permission from Unix user / root to make changes to this file.' This is even though the permissions include for everyone to make changes.
I have tried everything I can think of in the folded/file properties without success. I am running as administrator. I am running Windows 10 but the same thing happened in Windows 7.
Please put me out of my misery!

2016-02-29 06:21:05


I had a problem with permissions yesterday, so this tip has come at the right time.

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