Microsoft designed the Windows OS to be intuitive. To protect itself, the system will prevent you from performing certain actions like running an app or modifying, deleting, and copying a file or folder.

If you have encountered the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message on your PC, this guide will show you what to do.

What Does the ‘Need Permission to Perform this Action’ Message Mean?

To better understand this restriction, you need to know why Windows is enforcing it. The reasons may include:

  • Accessing a System File or Folder: Windows prevents users from unintentionally tampering with crucial system files that may affect the operating system.
  • Modifying a Protected File or Folder: An administrator may have barred other users from accessing the file or folder you wish to open, rename, copy, move, or delete.
  • You Don’t Have the Administrative Privileges to Perform the Action: On a shared computer with more than one user account, some users can perform certain actions that have system-wide effects while others cannot. So, when your account is not an admin account, the system will prevent you from making some changes to the computer.

However, the scenarios mentioned above are not the only reasons why you could be encountering the restricted permissions on your PC. Malware infection, corrupt system files, disk issues, Windows registry faults, and program conflicts could be what you have on your hands.

Now that we’ve seen the factors that could make you face this limitation on your PC, let’s discuss what you can do about it.

How to Fix the “You Need Permission to Perform this Action” Error on Windows 10

These are the solutions you need:

  1. Confirm the type of user account you have
  2. Log in to your administrator account
  3. Make your account an administrator account
  4. Unlock the file or folder
  5. Change the security permission of the file or folder
  6. Take ownership of the file or folder
  7. Scan your PC for malware
  8. Run DISM and SFC scans
  9. Run a CHKDSK scan
  • Boot your PC in Safe Mode
  • Disable conflicting programs
  • Reinstall the problematic program
  • Clean up the Windows registry
  • Disable User Account Control (UAC)
  • Reset your OS

You may want to attempt the solutions in the order they are presented. On the other hand, you can go at it in any order you prefer. It’s your choice. Soon, you will be able to access the files and run the apps that were triggering the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Fix 1: Confirm the Type of User Account You Have

There are two types of users on a Windows PC, namely Administrator and Standard users. Formerly, there was a third type of user account: the Guest account.

The type of user account you have determines the actions you can perform on the device.

Take a look:

  1. Administrator: An admin has free access to the computer. They can control the entire system and other users. An administrator can change security settings, access all files, modify other user accounts, and run all apps. What’s more, an admin account can install and uninstall apps, software, and hardware.
  2. Guest: Guest accounts have minimum privileges. They are meant for people you let use your system temporarily. Guests cannot install apps, access your private files, or change your PC settings.

Note: Windows 10 no longer offers guest accounts. However, administrators can still create a restricted account to achieve the same purpose.

  1. Standard: A Standard user can run programs, access files, and perform other actions that do not have system-wide effects. They can use most software and change system settings that don’t impact other users or affect the security of the PC.

A Standard user cannot install new apps or remove existing ones, change PC settings, or run apps and software to which an admin has not given them permission.

If you are not using an administrator account, Windows will prevent you from performing certain actions like modifying files and folders. Moreover, you cannot run apps that have access restrictions. Sometimes, you may be asked to provide an administrator password to continue the action.

To check the type of account you have, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press the Windows + R keyboard combination to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “Control Panel” (no quotes) into the text box and press Enter on your keyboard or click the OK button on the dialog.
  3. When Control Panel opens, go to the View By menu in the top-right corner and select Category.
  4. Locate User Accounts and Family Safety in the main options and click on it.
  5. Click on User Accounts.
  6. On the page that opens, you will see your username along with your account type.

Fix 2: Log In To Your Administrator Account

Perhaps, you are the only one using your PC but you have created more than one account. If so, one of the accounts will become an admin account. So, if you find that you cannot perform some actions on the account you are currently signed in on, consider logging in to your admin account.

Here’s how to do so:

  1. Launch the Start menu by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard.
  2. Click the icon of your user account.
  3. Click on the account to which you want to switch.
  4. When the login screen is displayed, provide your login information.

Alternatively, you can use these steps:

  1. Press the Windows + L combination on your keyboard to get to the Lock screen.
  2. Click on the screen to switch to the login screen.
  3. Select the account you want to use and enter your sign-in information.

Fix 3: Make Your Account an Administrator Account

If you have more than one user account on your PC, you can change the rights to the account you are currently signed into. Making your account an administrator account implies that you will have unrestricted access to your computer. You can install, remove, and edit protected files and software, and even change the system settings.

Here’s how to get administrator permission on Windows 10:

  • Using Command Prompt
  • Using Windows Settings
  • Using Control Panel
  • Using User Accounts
  • Using Computer Management

How to Change Your Account Type Using Command Prompt                                                                                                 

Follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows + R combination on your keyboard to open the Run box.
  2. Type “CMD” (no quotes) and click the OK button or press Enter on your keyboard.
  3. When the Command Prompt window opens, input the following line and press Enter to run it:

net user administrator /active: yes 

  1. Restart your computer.

You can now try performing the previously restricted action. You will have permission.

If you would like to deactivate the admin privileges on your account afterward, here’s the command to run in CMD:

net user administrator /active: no

How to Change Your Account Type Using the Settings App                                                                                                                

  1. Log into Windows with your administrator account.
  2. Press the Windows + I keyboard combination to open the Settings app.
  3. Click on Accounts.
  4. Click Family & Other Users in the left pane.
  5. On the right-hand side of the page, select the account you want to change and click the Change Account Type button.
  6. Select Administrator.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Restart your computer.

How to Change Your Account Type Using the Control Panel

  1. Press the Windows + R keyboard combination to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type “Control Panel” (no quotes) and click the OK button or press Enter on your keyboard.
  3. When the Control Panel window opens, click on Change Account Type under User Accounts. You can use the search bar to locate the option.
  4. Select the account you want to change.
  5. Click the Change the Account Type link in the left pane.
  6. Select Administrator and click the Change Account Type button.

How to Add Your Account to the Administrators Group Using User Accounts

  1. Open the Run dialog: Press the Windows + R combo on your keyboard.
  2. Type “Netplwiz” (no quotes) and click the OK button.
  3. When the User Accounts box opens, select the account you wish to change and click the Properties button.
  4. Switch to the Group Membership tab.
  5. Select Administrator.
  6. Click the Apply button. Click the OK button.
  7. Click Apply and OK again.
  8. Restart your computer.

How to Add Your Account to the Administrators Group Using Computer Management

Follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows + R keyboard combo to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type “Compmgmt.msc” (no quotes) and click the OK button or hit Enter on your keyboard.
  3. When the Computer Management window opens, expand System Tools > Local Users and Groups in the left pane.
  4. Open Users.
  5. Locate your account on the right-hand side of the page and double-click on it or right-click on it and click on Properties in the context menu.
  6. When the Properties box opens, click on the Member Of tab.
  7. Click the Add button.
  8. When the Select Groups box opens, click Advanced.
  9. Click the Find Now button.
  • Select Administrators in the search results and click OK.
  • Click OK on the User Properties window.
  • Restart your computer.

Your account now has administrator rights. You can successfully perform the action that was displaying the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message.

Fix 4: Unlock the File or Folder

The file or folder you are trying to access may be password-protected or encrypted. If it was made so by another user, you can ask their permission to let you access the file.

Also, there are third-party apps that let you know if a program or process is locking the file or folder. They then allow you to remove all the restrictions on the file/folder.

Fix 5: Change the Security Permission of the File, Folder, or App

You can gain the rights to a file, folder, or application by modifying your security permissions. Here’s how to get it done:

  1. Press the Windows + E combination on your keyboard to open File Explorer.
  2. Locate the file, folder, or app you are having issues with and right-click on it.
  3. Click on Properties in the context menu.
  4. When the Properties box opens, go to the Security tab and click the Edit button.
  5. Check for your username in the Group or User Names field and select it.

Note: If you cannot find your username in the Group or User Names field, here’s what you have to do:

  • Click the Add button. It will open the Select Users or Groups box.
  • Type your username into the ‘Enter the object names to select’ field. Note that it is case-sensitive. Finally, click the Check Names button.

Tip: If you are not sure of your username, don’t bother using the ‘Enter the object names to select’ field. Instead, click the ‘Advanced’ button and click the Find Now button. It will list all the available users and groups on your computer. Then locate your username in the search results and select it. Click OK and click OK again.

  1. In the Permissions field, check whether Full Control is allowed for your account. If it is not allowed, mark the Allow checkbox for Full Control. Doing so will also mark the Allow checkbox for other permissions, including Modify, Read & Execute, Read, and Write.
  2. Click the Apply button.
  3. Click the OK button.

You can also use Command Prompt (Admin) to change your security permission:

  1. Log into your Administrator account.
  2. Go to the Start menu and type “CMD” (no quotes) into the search box.
  3. Right-click on Command Prompt in the search results.
  4. Click Run as Administrator in the context menu.
  5. Provide your administrator credentials if the system prompts you for it.
  6. When User Account Control comes up, click the Yes button to confirm that you want to allow Command Prompt to make changes to your computer.
  7. When the Command Prompt (Admin) window opens, enter the following command and press Enter to run it:

 icacls <folder_path> /grant administrators:F /T

Note: Ensure that you replace <folder_path> with the actual path to the folder or file you wish to access. If you are not sure, locate the item in File Explorer and right-click on it. Then, click on Properties. Copy the text under Location. Input it as your folder_path in the command.

  1. After executing the command, the Administrators group on your PC will now have full control over the directory/file/folder. If your account is a Standard account and not in the Administrators group, replace ‘administrators’ in the above command with the username of your Standard account.
  2. Close the Command Prompt (Admin) window and restart your computer.

After completing the procedure shown above, you will now be able to access or modify the item without restriction.

Fix 6: Take Ownership of the File or Folder

Taking ownership of the restricted item will give you permission to access it. However, you should keep in mind that it can be risky to change the ownership of sensitive files, especially system files. You might be better off using the previous method to change your security permissions.

There are different ways for changing ownership:

  • Via File Explorer
  • Using Command Prompt (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin)
  • Creating a .bat file

Via File Explorer:

  1. Press the Windows + E keyboard combination to open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the item you are having issues with and right-click on it.
  3. Click on Properties in the context menu.
  4. Go to the Security tab and click the Advanced button.
  5. Click the Change link on Owner.
  6. When the Select User or Group box opens, type the name of your user account into the ‘Enter the object name to select’ field.
  7. Click the Check Names button to confirm the username.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Now, mark the ‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’ checkbox.
  • Click Apply.
  • Click OK.
  • Click OK again.

Using Command Prompt (Admin):

Follow these steps:

  1. Log into Windows with your Administrator account.
  2. Open Command Prompt (Admin). To do so, go to the Start menu and type “CMD” (no quotes) into the search box. Then, right-click on Command Prompt in the search results and click Run as Administrator in the context menu.
  3. If the system prompts you, enter your Admin account credentials.
  4. Click the Yes button on the User Account Control dialog to allow Command Prompt to make changes to your computer.
  5. When the Command Prompt (Admin) window opens, input the following command and press Enter to run it:

takeown /f “folder_path” /r /d y

Note: Ensure that you replace “folder_path” in the command with the actual location of the item that’s triggering the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message. If you are not sure of the path, go to File Explorer and locate the item. Then, right-click on it and click on Properties in the context menu, and, afterward, copy the item’s location.

  1. After executing the command, you’ll now have ownership of the file, folder, or directory. Close the Command Prompt (Admin) window and restart your computer.

Creating a .bat File:

You can use a .bat file to gain ownership of an item on your PC. Creating such a file is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on a blank area on your desktop and hover over New.
  2. Select Text Document and name the new document as ‘Mod.txt.’
  3. Use a text editor to open Mod.txt. Then, copy and paste the following:

SET DIRECTORY_NAME=”DIRECTORY

TAKEOWN /f %DIRECTORY_NAME% /r /d y

ICACLS %DIRECTORY_NAME% /grant administrators:F /t

PAUSE

Note: Ensure that you replace DIRECTORY with the actual path of the item you are having issues with. If you are not sure of the path, go to File Explorer and right-click on the item (be it a file or folder), then click on Properties and copy the text under Location.

  1. Save the changes.
  2. Go to your desktop and right-click on the Mod.txt. Select Rename and rename it as ‘Mod.bat.’ The system will display a warning, letting you know that you are about to change the file extension. Click Yes to proceed.
  3. Right-click on Mod.bat and select Run as Administrator in the context menu.
  4. Afterward, try performing the restricted action again and see whether the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message will still appear.

Fix 7: Scan Your PC for Malware

The ‘You need permission to perform this action’ could be caused by some malware that has hijacked your computer and taken control of its files and processes. These malicious items may also have corrupted or deleted some entries in the registry as well as your system files.

You need to act fast in this regard. If you don’t have a third-party antivirus program on your PC, it means that Microsoft Defender is active but hasn’t been getting updates. That’s why malware was able to invade.

If you do have a third-party antivirus program, it’s possible that it’s not robust enough to detect elusive threats. It could also be that you haven’t been updating it.

Either way, we suggest that you update your antivirus, whichever it is you are using, and run a scan at once.

If you are using Microsoft Defender, see that it has the latest security updates. Then, proceed to run a scan. Here’s how to run an advanced scan to deal with stubborn threats:

  1. Press the Windows + I keyboard combination to open the Settings app.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Security in the left pane.
  4. Click on Virus & Threat Protection. It is the shield icon.
  5. Select Scan Options under Current Threats. If you are using an older version of Windows 10, select ‘Run a New Advanced Scan.’
  6. You’ll see three options: Full Scan, Custom Scan, and Microsoft Defender Offline Scan. First, select Full Scan and click Scan Now. After the scan is complete, run the Microsoft Defender Offline Scan.

If you are using a third-party antivirus program, we suggest you also get Auslogics Anti-Malware to complement it. This tool was designed and released by a Microsoft Silver Application Developer. The program can detect deeply hidden threats that your current antivirus might miss. It is user-friendly and easy to set up and run.

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Fix 8: Run A DISM and SFC Scan

Verify the integrity of your system files by running Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) and System File Checker (SFC) scans. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Go to the Start menu and type “Command Prompt” (no quotes) into the search bar.
  2. Right-click on the option when it appears in the search results.
  3. Select Run as Administrator.
  4. If the system requests your administrator credentials, provide them.
  5. Click the Yes button on the User Account Control dialog to allow Command Prompt to make changes to your PC.
  6. When the Command Prompt (Admin) window opens, turn on your internet connection and input the following command (you can copy and paste it). Then, press Enter on your keyboard to execute it:

DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

  1. Wait for the scan to complete. It may take up to 30 minutes depending on your system. You may want to plug in your power cord to avoid running out of battery power and interrupting the scan.
  2. After the scan is done, input the following command and press Enter to run it:

sfc /scannow 

  1. Also, wait for the scan to complete. It will display the results to let you know the issues that were fixed.
  • Afterward, close the Command Prompt (Admin) window and restart your computer.

Fix 9: Run A CHKDSK Scan

Your hard drive might contain some errors and that’s why you are unable to perform certain actions. To find out, run a CHKDSK scan:

  1. Go to the Start menu and type “Command Prompt” (no quotes) in the search bar.
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt in the search results and select Run as Administrator in the context menu.
  3. Provide the password of your admin account if the system prompts for it.
  4. Click the Yes button on the User Account Control dialog to allow Command Prompt to make changes to your computer.
  5. Input the following command and press Enter on your keyboard to run it:

chkdsk /r

  1. When the process is complete, close the Command Prompt (Admin) window and restart your computer.

Fix 10: Start Your PC in Safe Mode

You can boot your PC into Safe Mode and try accessing the restricted file once more. Here’s how to boot Windows in Safe Mode:

  1. Press the Windows + R keyboard combination to invoke the Run dialog.
  2. Type “Msconfig” (no quotes) and press Enter or click the OK button to open System Configuration.
  3. Go to the Boot tab.
  4. Mark the Safe Boot checkbox under the Boot Options section.
  5. Click the Apply button and click the OK button.
  6. Restart your system to boot into Safe Mode. Try performing the restricted action now and see whether it goes through.

To boot Windows normally again, open System Configuration, as shown previously. Mark the Safe Boot checkbox, and then click Apply > OK.

Fix 11: Disable Conflicting Programs

Some users reported that the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message was caused by their third-party antivirus program. Consider disabling your security app temporarily and see if that will fix the issue. Follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click on the Start button in the bottom-left corner of your screen or press the Windows + X keyboard combination to open the Power User menu.
  2. Click on Task Manager.
  3. Go to the Startup tab and select your antivirus program. Then, click the Disable button to prevent the program from starting automatically when you boot your PC.
  4. Restart your computer.
  5. Try performing the restricted action again. See if it goes through. Afterward, re-enable your antivirus or consider using the Windows built-in Microsoft Defender instead to protect your PC.

Fix 12: Reinstall the Problematic Program

Does the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message appears when you are trying to run an app? Are you logged in to your admin account when this happens? If so, it’s difficult to tell what’s causing the permission issue. So, try reinstalling the app and see if that helps:

  1. Press the Windows + I keyboard combination to open the Settings app.
  2. Click the Apps tile on the Settings home page.
  3. Click on Apps & Features in the left pane.
  4. Now, go through the list of apps and locate the app you are having trouble accessing. Click on it and click the Uninstall button.
  5. Restart your PC and reinstall the app. See if the problem is resolved.

If the issue persists, it’s likely that another program or process on your computer is the reason why. You can find out by running a clean boot. A clean boot will start Windows with a minimal set of drivers and startup programs.

It is similar to starting your system in Safe Mode. However, it gives you control over which services and programs run at startup so that you can pin down the cause of your troubles.

Follow these steps to get it done:

  1. Sign in to Windows with your admin account.
  2. Open the Run dialog: Press the Windows + R combination on your keyboard.
  3. Type “Msconfig” (no quotes) and click the OK button to open System Configuration.
  4. Go to the Services tab and mark the Hide all Microsoft Services checkbox. Then, click the Disable All button.
  5. Go to the Startup tab and click the Open Task Manager link.
  6. Switch to the Startup tab in Task Manager and disable the startup items. That is, click on each one and click the Disable button.
  7. Close the Task Manager and click OK in System Configuration.
  8. Restart your computer. It will start in a clean boot environment. Then, try running your app again. See if the ‘Need permission’ message will still appear. If the problem is resolved, it means that one of the disabled services or startup items was causing the conflict. To find out which one, systematically enable them and restart your computer each time until you cannot run your app again. Then, you’ll know exactly the startup item or service that was triggering the issue.

Fix 13. Clean Up the Registry

You should check for corruptions and invalid entries in the registry. They could be the source of your troubles. To get this task done without harming your OS, we suggest running the Registry Cleaner tool in Auslogics BoostSpeed. It will safely remove and replace corrupt, invalid, and empty keys in the registry.

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Fix 14: Disable User Account Control (UAC)

User Account Control is a security system in Windows that helps prevent apps from making unsolicited changes to your OS. It is ill-advised to disable it. However, if you are determined, you can disable UAC temporarily. See if you will be able to run your app without the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message.

Follow these steps to disable UAC via the Control Panel:

  1. Press the Windows + R combination on your keyboard to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type “Control Panel” (no quotes) and press Enter or click OK.
  3. Search for User Accounts and click on it.
  4. Click the ‘Change User Account Control settings’ link.
  5. Drag the slider down to Never Notify and click OK.

Try running your app again and see if the problem will persist. Don’t forget to turn on UAC notifications afterward.

Fix 15: Reset Your OS

If none of the solutions presented here helped you, you have no other alternative but to reset your operating system. You may want to perform a backup first to save your files. Afterward, follow the procedure below:

  1. Go to Windows Settings: Press the Windows + I keyboard combination to invoke Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Recovery in the left pane.
  4. Click Get Started under Reset this PC on the right-hand side of the page.
  5. Select Remove Everything.
  6. Choose Cloud Download or Local Reinstall, whichever method you prefer to install Windows.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Click Reset.

After you’ve reinstalled your OS, you now have the default settings and all files and apps are removed. It is expected that you won’t run into the ‘You need permission to perform this action’ message anymore.

Conclusion

Does Windows prevent you from running apps? Is an error message stopping you from opening, copying, moving, and renaming files and folders? If so, the solutions in this article should help you overcome the issue.

If you’ve found this guide useful, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment in the section below. Let us know the fix that worked for you.

Check out our blog for more Windows 10 tips.