What you should know before applying permissions to a file or folder


Here are answers to some common questions about applying permissions to a file or folder.

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Do I have to apply permissions to keep other people from accessing my files?

No. Your user account prevents anyone who is using a standard account on your computer from seeing your files. However, it doesn't prevent anyone who is using an administrator account on your computer from seeing your files. If there are other administrator accounts on your computer, instead of using permissions, you can protect your files by encrypting them with the Encrypting File System (EFS). For more information, see What is Encrypting File System (EFS)? If you create a user account for another user on your computer, make sure you create a standard account and not an administrator account.

Are there any risks to applying permissions to a file or folder?

Yes. Windows automatically applies permissions to files or folders based on your user account settings and, if it applies, the security group your user account is in. If you manually apply permissions to a file or folder, they might conflict with the existing permissions and produce results you did not intend. Manually applying permissions is only intended for advanced users. If someone is trying to access a shared file or folder and they are receiving access denied errors, then an advanced user might want to manually change the permissions of the file or folder.

Do I have to apply permissions to share my files with other users on my computer?

No. The best ways to share files are to share from an individual folder, to move files to the Public folder, or to use the Sharing wizard. Depending on who you choose to share the file or folder with, you might be able to apply permissions to some of your files. For more information about sharing files, see Share files with someone.

The following table lists the permission levels that are typically available for files and folders.

Permission level Description
Permission level

Full control

Description

Users can see the contents of a file or folder, change existing files and folders, create new files and folders, and run programs in the folder.

Permission level

Modify

Description

Users can change existing files and folders, but cannot create new ones.

Permission level

Read and execute

Description

Users can see the contents of existing files and folders and can run programs in the folder.

Permission level

Read

Description

Users can see the contents of a folder and open files and folders.

Permission level

Write

Description

Users can create new files and folders and make changes to existing files and folders.

To apply permissions to a file or folder

If you need to manually apply permissions to a file or folder, follow the steps below. Manually applying permissions is something that only advanced users should do because you might end up with unintended results.

  1. Right-click the file or folder, and then click Properties.

  2. Click the Security tab, and then click Edit.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • To set permissions for a user that is not listed under Group or user names, click Add, type the name of the user or group, click OK, select the permissions, and then click OK.

    • To change or remove permissions from an existing group or user, click the name of the group or user, select the permissions, and then click OK.



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