[HOWTO] Gain Full Control of Your Computer

Category: Windows

Many of us are the sole or principal user of a PC or laptop, and hold the privileges of the Administrator account. An Admin is supposed to be omnipotent, having full control over every file and folder on a machine. It is frustrating to learn this is not always so! Here is why you may at times “not have permission to access” a file or folder, and several clever ways to gain full control of your “personal" computer…

You Shall Not Pass!

Has this happened to you? You're cleaning up your files, and when you try to open, rename or delete a file or folder, a wizard with a big stick pops up and says "You Shall Not Pass!" Oh, wait a minute, I think I've mixed my metaphors, or perhaps confused the message for the medium.

But anyway, I think you know what I mean. You want to do something on your computer, and an imperious message from the operating system says "Access denied", "You don't have permission to access", or some other variant of "You can't go there." Let's talk about why that sometimes happens, and how to fix it.

You are probably familiar with the differences between an Administrator account and an ordinary User account. The latter has a limited set of privileges when it comes to manipulating files, installing software, and other functions. User accounts are for people who generally don’t know what they are doing and could admit malware or damage system files if they had too many privileges. Only the Administrator should be allowed to install or remove software.

Windows - Access Denied - you do not have permission

But there are more types of accounts, including some that are created by Windows during its installation. One such account is named “TrustedInstaller” and it has privileges over certain system files that are denied to Users and Administrators. TrustedInstaller is able to modify, delete, or move certain files and the Administrator cannot.

I've also seen this happen when upgrading the operating system, from XP to Windows 7, or from Windows 7 to Win10. I created a new Admin account during the process, and ended up with a mess in which some of my files could not be moved or deleted. That is why you get the “no permissions” error message when you try to access files “owned" by TrustedInstaller and its kind.

Did you come here looking for ways to clean up or tune up your hard drive? See my article Free Hard Drive Tune-up Tools for some tips on how to find duplicates, remove unwanted files, recover files accidentally deleted, and improve performance of your hard drive.

The solution is to transfer the privileges held by other account to the Administrator account. An Administrator can perform this transfer, but it takes over a dozen complex steps to do so. So of course a few kind geeks have whipped up “one-click” tools to automate this transfer process and give an Administrator full control of all files and folders, or just a few that the Administrator wants to control. Here are some of the best options:

Some Tools to Take Ownership of Files and Folders

My favorite method is a registry hack that adds “Take Ownership” to the dropdown list of actions available when you right-click on a selected file or folder. Just go to Take Ownership’s page and click on the blue “Download TakeOwnership” button to download a ZIP file containing two *.reg files. (Be careful you don't accidentally click something else here.)

Double-click the .zip file to extract the *.reg files into a temporary folder, then double-click on the “Install_Take_Ownership.reg” file. This will add Take Ownership option to your system registry and make it available when you select a folder or file and right-click. To remove the TakeOwnership option from the registry and context menus, double-click on the “Uninstall_Take_Ownership.reg” file.

Another slick solution is Easy Context Menu, a product of Sordum Software. It is an app that adds many options to the context-sensitive dropdown menu seen when you highlight and right-click on a file or folder. Among the options is “Take Ownership.” Easy Context Menu includes many sophisticated options and may be more complicated than you prefer.

TakeOwnershipPro lets you drag a folder or file and drop it into the TakeOwnershipPro app to gain full control over the folder or file. It also supports the context-menu style operation of the apps mentioned above. Unfortunately, there is no “undo” feature.

Caveat: I've not experienced this, but I've read that trying to take ownership can sometimes lead to a system crash. You are strongly urged to create a System Restore point before attempting to take ownership of a folder or file using any of these tools. In the event of a crash, you can then use System Restore to “go back in time” to a moment before you made the disastrous attempt.

Have you ever experienced this annoying problem? Were you successful in resolving it? Tell me about your experience. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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This article was posted by on 11 Sep 2018

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Most recent comments on "[HOWTO] Gain Full Control of Your Computer"

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
11 Sep 2018

Another possibility to subdue an intractable Windows system is to boot up your trusty Linux Knoppix liveCD, then hunt down the offending files and delete them without problem.
If needed after switching to Root user.

Posted by:

11 Sep 2018

Take Ownership’s page = unknown compression type!?

Posted by:

11 Sep 2018

Take Ownership page download was blocked by Malwarebytes- due to PUP

Posted by:

12 Sep 2018

Mr. Rankin,
Thank you for all that you do for us.
I hope that I am not doing anything above my pay-grade here but I had the following notes that may be of interest to other readers of this very informative site:
1) Steps to View Full Details of Local Users and Groups
*Press Win + X keys
*Select Command Prompt (or Windows PowerShell) w/Admin priviliges
*Type lusrmgr
(Local Users and Groups (Local)\Groups)
*Press the Enter key
Microsoft Management Console will launch
2) Steps to View Full Details of All User Accounts in Windows 10
*Press Win + X keys
*Select Command Prompt (or Windows PowerShell) w/Admin priviliges
*Type wmic useraccount list full
*Press the Enter key
3) Steps to Grant or Deny User Access to your PC
*Press Win + X keys
*Select Command Prompt (or Windows PowerShell) w/Admin priviliges
*Type control userpasswords2
*Press the Enter key
User Accounts window will launch
To perform Advanced User Management Tasks
*Click the "Advanced" tab
*Click the "Advanced" button

Posted by:

CHarles Hadden
24 Sep 2018

OW you didn't give me any windows to cut you down or make fun of you. Love the info.

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