Operating systems throw errors whenever they encounter issues that require your attention. Usually, the messages are accompanied by an error code, which you can easily look up online to find answers.
However, if you stumbled upon the Access Denied error on Windows 10, you probably tried to open files or folders, or to launch apps.
Perhaps you’ve also noticed that there’s no error code displayed, making it a bit more challenging to identify an appropriate solution. But we’re here to help you get rid of the Access Denied error message using ownership, permission, encryption, or administrator settings.
Before getting started, we strongly advise you to create a system restore point. This way, you can revert Windows to a safe state in case you mess anything up.
How to fix the Access Denied error on Windows 10?
1. Log in as the administrator
If you have multiple user profiles set up on your computer, make sure you’re not logged in as a guest when attempting to open files or applications. Instead, log out and log back in as the administrator.
Alternatively, you can execute a process by running it with elevation rights, assuming that you know the admin login credentials.
2. Take ownership
If you could previously open a particular file or folder but can’t anymore, it might be because you lost ownership of that particular file.
Here’s how to fix it:
- Right-click the folder and go to Properties
- Open the Security tab and click Advanced
- Click Change
- Write Administrator in the empty box, click Check Names, and press OK to confirm. You can also write your user account instead of Administrator
- Enable Replace owner on subcontainers and objects, then click Apply
If you’re still encountering the Access Denied error on Windows 10 after following the steps above, return to the Advanced Security Settings window and enable Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object.
In case you took ownership using any other account besides Administrator, you might have to add permissions to your account the manual way. To do this, go back to Advanced Security Settings.
1. If your account isn’t listed there, click Add
2. Click Select a principal
3. Write your account name, click Check names, then click OK
4. Set Type to Allow and Applies to to This folder, subfolders, and files. Under Basic permissions, enable Full control. Click OK.
You can also take ownership of a file using CMD with admin rights:
takeown /f <filename>
Make sure to replace
<filename> with the full system path to the file of which you want to take ownership (without the
< > symbols). If the command is successful, you should receive a message saying SUCCESS: The file (or folder): “filename” now owned by user “Computer Name\Username”.
To take ownership of a folder through Command Prompt with elevated rights:
takeown /f <foldername> /r /d y
<foldername>– the full system path to the target directory
/r(optional) – include all files and subfolders in the ownership takeover
/d y– take ownership of subfolders where you don’t have List Folder permissions
3. Check for content encryption
If you keep receiving the Access Denied error on Windows 10 when trying to open a folder, it might have something to do with content encryption.
Here’s how to verify this:
- Right-click the folder and open Properties
- In the General tab, click Advanced
- Check the status of Encrypt contents to secure data
If the option is enabled, you must have the certificate that was initially used for content encryption to be able to open it. You can also decrypt the folder using that certificate so that you won’t have to worry about it the next time to attempt to open the folder.
4. Check for file corruption
Certain files may become corrupt if they were opened when your operating system crashed or during a power outage. File corruption is one of the reasons why you might receive the Access Denied message on Windows 10.
It’s usually impossible to repair corrupt system files, so your best bet is to restore a backup or revert Windows to a previous system restore point, prior to the corruption.
You could also run System File Checker to try and fix the corrupt files. However, keep in mind that it only works with system files.
- Run Command Prompt as admin
- Wait until the scan is complete
- Exit CMD and reboot your PC
5. Sign in or create a new local user account
Windows 10 allows you to log in with a local or Microsoft account. However, it sometimes has trouble with Microsoft accounts, which can only be fixed by switching to a local account.
Otherwise, if your local user profile is corrupt, you will receive the Access Denied error on Windows 10 no matter what you try, preventing you from accessing files, folders, and applications.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Right-click the Start button and select Settings
- Select Accounts
- Click Sign in with a local account
- Confirm your identity and set up the new local account credentials
- Sign out and sign back in using the new account
6. Recover files from the Windows.old folder
If you recently upgraded to Windows 10 from an older edition, or if you installed two or more operating systems on your computer, you might see the Access Denied error because the files you’re trying to access are stuck in the Windows.old folder.
In this case, all you have to do is recover files from Windows.old, assuming that you didn’t get a chance to format the disk.
Just find the Windows.old folder on your computer, open it using your file browser, and look for your file there. It’s easier than restoring files from backups.
To sum up, you can fix the Access Denied error on Windows 10 by making some system changes involving administrator rights, user permissions, file corruption, and content encryption.
Did the solutions above work for you? Let us know in the comment section below.