How can I get ownership of old Windows files?

Updated: 04/02/2019 by Computer Hope
Illustration: Windows user unlocking a folder.

When you try to open files that were originally stored on an old Windows computer, you may find that you cannot open them because of a permissions error. These errors often occur because your new Windows operating system does not recognize you as the same user who owned the files on the old system. You can resolve this error by taking ownership of the files or folders.

Follow these instructions to take ownership of files and folders in Windows 10.

  1. Locate the folder containing the files that you want to open. In this example, we have a folder on our desktop called "My Old Windows Files."
  2. Right-click on the folder and select the Properties option in the context menu.

Screenshot: Right-click the folder containing files you do not own, and select Properties.

  1. In the Properties window, click the Security tab.
  2. Click the Advanced button.

Screenshot: Click the Security tab, then click Advanced.

  1. Click the Change option next to the name of the owner.

Click Change.

  1. In the Select User or Group window, click the Advanced button.

Screenshot: In the Select User or Group dialog, click Advanced.

  1. Click the Find now button.
  2. Find your user account in the list, select it to highlight it, and click OK.

Screenshot: Click Find Now. Locate your user account, and click it to select it. Click OK.

  1. Click OK again.

Screenshot: Click OK again.

  1. Check the box labeled "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects," then click Apply.

Screenshot: Check the box labeled Replace owner on subcontainers and objects. Click Apply.

  1. You will see the message "If you have just taken ownership of this object, you will need to close and reopen this object's properties before you can view or change permissions." Click OK.

Click OK.

  1. Click the Add button.

Screenshot: Click Add.

  1. Click the Select a principal option.

Screenshot: Click Select a principal.

  1. Click the Advanced button.
  2. Click the Find now button.
  3. Select your user account and click OK.
  4. Click OK again.
  5. Check the box labeled Full control.

Screenshot: Click Full Control.

  1. Click OK.
  2. Click OK again.
  3. Select your user account to highlight it. The section below displays the permissions for your user account. Verify that there is a check mark next to Full Control, Modify, Read & Execute, List Folder Contents, Read, Write.

Screenshot: Click your user account. Below, verify that there is a check mark next to Full control, Modify, Read and Execute, List folder contents, Read, and Write. Click OK.

  1. Click OK.

You now have ownership and full control of the files.

Additional information