How to Delete Files That Need Administrator Permission on Windows

Being denied the ability to delete a file or folder because it requires administrator permission can be quite annoying -- especially when you're on your administrator account. To delete these stubborn files, you need to take ownership of them and adjust your permissions.

Folder access denied.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Open File Explorer and find the file or folder you want to delete. Right-click the file and select Properties.

Make sure you've selected the right folder before you begin.
Make sure you've selected the right folder before you begin.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click the Security tab followed by the Advanced button.

Folder properties, with the Security tab selected.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click Change near the top of the dialog box. The box display's who is the owner of the file or folder, and if the name doesn't match your administrator account, you can't delete the file.

Don't change any of the other options unless you know what you're doing.
Don't change any of the other options unless you know what you're doing.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

On Windows 7 computers, instead select the Owner tab from the dialog box, followed by Edit.

The Advanced Security Settings dialog (Windows 7).
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Type the username you want to take over ownership of the file or folder in the Enter the object name to select field. Click Check Names to make sure you've entered a valid name, then click OK. This closes the dialog and returns you to the Advanced Security Settings dialog.

You don't have to type the exact name, just your username. Check Names fills in the rest of the information.
You don't have to type the exact name, just your username. Check Names fills in the rest of the information.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

On Windows 7 computers, instead select your name from the Change owner to list. Click the box next to Replace owner on subcontainers and objects and click OK. This finalizes changing ownership for Windows 7, so close the Properties window and follow Step 1 and Step 2 to return to the Advanced Security Options dialog and skip to Step 6.

The Owners tab.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click the box next to Replace owner on subcontainers and objects and click Apply. When the Windows Security prompt appears, click OK and close out all the dialogs, as well as the Properties window. The prompt reminds you that to make any changes to the file or folder, you need to close and re-open the properties dialog.

Follow Step 1 and Step 2 to return to the Advanced Security Options before continuing.

You can also click OK from the Advanced Security Settings dialog to achieve the same effect as clicking Apply.
You can also click OK from the Advanced Security Settings dialog to achieve the same effect as clicking Apply.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Select your name from the list -- you may be listed simply as Administrators -- and click the box next to Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object. Click Edit.

The Advanced Security Settings window.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

For Windows 7, select the Permissions tab and click Change Permissions.

The Permissions window (Windows 7).
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click the Full control box in the Basic permissions section and click OK.

The Permissions dialog (Windows 8.1).
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

For Windows 7, select your name from the list. Click the Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent box and Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object box and click Edit.

The Permissions window (Windows 7).
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click OK on the Advanced Security Settings dialog. When prompted, click Yes to apply the permissions. This ends all steps for Windows 8.1. The selected files or folders can now be deleted.

Windows Security prompt (Windows 8.1).
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

For Windows 7, click the box next to Full control in the Permissions list and click OK.

The Permissions dialog (Windows 7).
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

For Windows 7, click OK on the Advanced Security Settings dialog. When prompted, click Yes to apply the permissions.

The Windows Security prompt (Windows 7).
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.