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 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...


Ending a Process Using the Task Manager

One of the many functions of the Windows Task Manager is to allow you to control processes running on your system. If you ...

Discover More

Copying Data with Robocopy

Robocopy is a robust file copy utility built into Windows. If you have a lot of file management to do that can't easily be ...

Discover More

Microsoft Edge Extensions

Like all good browsers, Microsoft Edge supports extensions. Although getting and using them may be a little rough around the ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Opening a File with a Program Other than the Default

Windows determines a program to use with a particular file based on the file's type. If you want to temporarily override this ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of Old Windows Updates

Microsoft is constantly updating Windows for various reasons. For most people, those updates are downloaded and installed ...

Discover More

Pin Items to File Explorer's Quick Access View

You can improve your efficiency at navigating the file system by using the Quick Access view. This tip shows you how to pin ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 5?

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.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.