How can I browse the C:\Windows\Fonts directory as regular files instead of fonts in the Windows 7 Explorer?

I need to access the Security tab in Properties, since the fonts have bad privileges after restoring a backup from another computer.

Edit: I can open the Properties dialog by right-clicking a single font (not a font family), but the files that cannot be opened due to the bad privileges, don't even show up in the font list.

  • 1
    I ended up solving this by removing almost all fonts, restoring to another directory and installing them from there. It seems like it's a bad idea restoring font files directly to the Fonts folder. But is there really no way to browse the Fonts folder? May 17, 2010 at 12:28

4 Answers 4


In Windows Explorer navigate to the fonts folder using UNC convention: \\computer-name\c$\Windows\Fonts (also see Can't remove certain fonts in Windows 7)

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    Clever! In order to change security settings, though, I had to first share the drive explicitly with full privileges to the Administrator user (or any other user, I suppose). Mar 30, 2011 at 8:12
  • that's curious, I've not encountered that. In any case, on Win7 sometimes using ip address (\\\c$\...) instead of \\localhost or \\computer-name can cure some network access or share issues. Apr 8, 2013 at 20:16

I wanted to suggest an alternate fix. The UNC trick above works great, but annoyingly it won't let you use a popular tool for dealing with un-deletable files, Unlocker. (you can still run unlocker on a font file via the command prompt, but it's tedious)

A solution I found is to create a desktop.ini to put into your font folder, which forces it to behave like a normal folder.

  1. Make a new text document, call it desktop.txt or whatever.
  2. Copy and paste this to the text file:
  3. Save, close, and rename it to desktop.ini, then move that file C:\windows\fonts. You may be prompted to overwrite. Say yes, unless you want to first make a backup of the old desktop.ini.
  4. Close and re-open the windows font folder, and it should have a normal folder view. And you can right click and choose Unlocker, and it will run without issues.

Also, it may be helpful to understand that Windows tracks whether fonts are installed or not via a specific registry key.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts

If the registry has entries for fonts that don't exist, you'll get problems. If it has an entry, but the entry points to the wrong file, you'll get problems. And finally, if you have a font in your font folder, but it doesn't exist in that registry list... you'll get problems. So try to straighten out that registry list, which is pretty self explanatory if you're comfortable with the registry.

The key has a bunch of string values, one for every font (and variant) you have installed. So for example the entry for Agency Bold is a string value that says
Agency FB Bold (TrueType)

And the data it contains is the filename of that font, AGENCYB_0.TTF. Make sure that filename is correct.

And by the way, that _0 at the end of the filename means that at some point, you tried to copy the font (or install it) to the windows font folder, and a copy was already there... windows won't overwrite the older font, it will put in a second copy with a new name ending in _0, and then _1, _2, etc. You might have several copies of old fonts that gave you problems in the fast, and if you're careful you can clean these up and fix their registry entries.


The specialized display of the Fonts folder is causeed by the settings in its desktop.ini file. The simplest way to turn this off is:

  1. Open PowerShell as Administrator (WinKey+X > Windows PowerShell (Admin))
  2. Navigate to the Fonts folder.
  3. Execute the following command: rename-item desktop.ini desktop.sav

That's it! Reverse the rename to restore normal behavior.


Using File Explorer to copy desktop.ini to c:\windows\fonts may not work if the Windows system refuses to allow the copy process, specificly because desktop.ini is not (according to Windows) a font file.

I've discovered a quick and easy work-a-round.

1 .. Save the desktop.ini file to the c:\temp folder

2 .. Go to RUN on the desktop and type CMD (for access to DOS commands)

3 .. When CMD appears in the RUN search results box, right-click on it and choose the "Run as Administrator" option.

4 .. When the CMD DOS screen appears, switch over to the C:\temp folder

5 .. In C:\Temp, type this command -- copy desktop.ini c:\windows\fonts /y -- and press ENTER/RETURN

6 ... You should get 1 file copied. You can then exit out of CMD, go to File Explorer and then be able to browse the C:\windows\fonts folder as you desire.

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