I have Windows 7 Professional on my home computer, 1 windows account, multiple users and... huge mess on desktop. I want to force other household members to save their temporary files and documents on NAS storage I bought. I know I can change the location of the desktop folder but it's not an option for me.

Is there any way to make windows desktop read-only?

  • 5
    Is there a particular reason that you're not using multiple user accounts? This would then allow you to configure in such a way that all of the user profiles are stored on NAS and the actions of each user would not affect the other users of the machine.
    – user139604
    Jun 12, 2012 at 12:31
  • More accounts will solve this easily. As @ickleislands notes, this is an easy fix
    – Dave M
    Jun 12, 2012 at 12:35
  • ickleislands - I'd love to do so but it's a bigger migration. I'm looking for some quick solution that will change habits of my wife
    – Marek
    Jun 12, 2012 at 12:40
  • Any other solution would inevitably be a kludge in lieu of setting up additional user accounts though. If you actually wanted to mark the Windows desktop as read-only you should be able to achieve this by making the 'Desktop' folder within your user profile 'read-only' - I am unsure of what side effects you will encounter by doing this though. The only way to achieve 'force other users to save their files... elsewhere' though will be to actually force them via user profiles.
    – user139604
    Jun 12, 2012 at 13:02
  • 1
    "change habits of my wife" you are kidding? Only way to do that is get a different wife with better computer habits or she has her own computer.
    – Moab
    Jun 12, 2012 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


You could create a batch file that runs on startup that runs Icacls. This will change the Access Control List for a specific user on a certain directory. I haven't tried this on the Desktop folder and I'd rather not mess up my Desktop so you'll have to experiment. But I looked around and this seems to be how people are accomplishing this.

The Desktop is a "special" folder in Windows which is why I believe you need to have the batch file run on startup. I think that the ACL for the Desktop will get reset on reboot. Again, haven't tested this.

Here is a link to MS Technet detailing the usage of Icacls. Don't mind the fact that it says Windows Server. The command used to be called Cacls in XP but is being phased out in Windows 7 for Icacls.


Watch the spelling!!! I think I misspelled the command every time I typed in in this post. It is NOT "Icalcs".

  • This one works! Thank you! Icacls c:\Users\<user_name>\Desktop /deny <user_name>:(WD,AD,DC)
    – Marek
    Jun 13, 2012 at 14:12

I just wanted to add to ickleislands answer and answer your last comment:

First off, setting the desktop folder to read-only is not best way to move forward on this, because you are all logging into windows using the one account.

You could try creating the various user accounts yourself (with passwords and put into the user groups they need) and then hand these account over to each user before they logon.

Then, as an alternative to setting the folder as read-only, you could create a shortcut from the original users desktop folder (the one with all the stuff in it) on say, your wife's desktop. When she needs to use a file from the old desktop, ask her to 'cut' files to her new desktop, rather than copy.

Remind each person who uses the computer why this is important (to prevent accidental data loss) and that it will save them time and frustration not having to wade through everyone else stuff if they take out only the files they need as they go. From time to time you may need to help push this process along, but at least the other people are helping with the work..

  • I'm afraid the last part of your solution - "Remind each person who uses the computer why this is important..." - is actually the most difficult/impossible. Still I'll try
    – Marek
    Jun 13, 2012 at 13:58
  • Oh well, on the bright side, at least you're running Win7 Pro which has fast user switching… getting people to log off when they finish as well would be a real pain in the a… with WinXP ;) Jun 13, 2012 at 14:33

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