Lately, I've been quite annoyed at the fact that I can't edit files in C:\Program Files\WindowsApps folder. I've used the takedown command, in elevated CMD, and changed permissions, to allow admins to have full control (I am an admin), and changed owner to Administrators. I can delete files/folders, yet, whenever I try to edit files, or add files, I get the error message "Access is denied." How do I enable creating files and editing files in WindowsApps?
WindowsApps folder is one of the most heavily protected folders in Windows 10. It contains all the Windows UWP apps, to which Microsoft zealously guards the access.
The protections on this folder may change across Windows versions.
The usual methods of taking ownership and assigning permissions are not enough for this folder, but are still required as first step to gaining access. After executing them, accessing the folder is now possible for copying, but editing is still blocked. To edit, one needs to save the file elsewhere, and only then replace the original with the edited version.
A further note is that restoring the ownership of the folder to
is possible without losing the extra permissions that were assigned,
by using the command:
icacls "%ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps" /setowner "NT Service\TrustedInstaller" /t
If someone wishes to use an elevated Command Prompt for gaining access to the folder, then these are the commands :
takeown /F "%ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps" takeown /F "%ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps" /r /d y icacls "%ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps" /grant Administrators:F icacls "%ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps" /grant Administrators:F /t
I also note that permission problems can be avoided by using the following commands before and after changing permissions to completely restore the original permissions :
icacls "%ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps" /save WindowsApps.acl icacls "%ProgramFiles%" /restore WindowsApps.acl
To complement the poster's remark about restoring the original permissions on the folder while not having saved these permissions before starting, this is done by entering in an elevated Command Prompt (cmd) the command :
icacls "%ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps" /q /c /t /reset
If the command does not work, it needs to be redone from a Windows boot CD/USB, as explained in the post Reset default ACLs for C:\Program Files\WindowsApps:
- Follow the instructions on this page to create the Windows Installation Media
- Boot from the USB/CD, click "Repair my computer" upon reaching the Install button
- Select Troubleshoot, then Command Prompt
- Your current drive
C:will be the boot media, with your Windows system disk likely in
D:, so verify using
dir D:, and if not, then search for the right drive-letter
Using the drive letter you just found (maybe
D:\), issue the command:
icacls "D:\Program Files\WindowsApps" /q /c /t /reset
Wait for the operation to complete, and check the output for errors
I have solved this myself nonetheless:
From an administrator command prompt the following command will copy the WindowsApps package folder (or any folder within):
robocopy /B /E /COPY:DAT D:\WindowsApps\xxx D:\MyTargetDir
This will copy the
WindowsApps\xxx package folder on
MyTargetDir folder on
D:\. This works because the /B option tells Windows to use the Backup token which ignores any permissions or limitations / policies.
After that the files need to be decrypted:
cipher /D /S:D:\MyTargetDir
Then the files can be edited.
Remove the original folder (or rename it):
mv D:\WindowsApps\xxx D:\WindowsApps\xxx_
And then copy back the edited files:
robocopy /B /E /COPY:DAT D:\MyTargetDir D:\WindowsApps\xxx
HOWEVER: Note, I still haven't figured out how to make the edited app start, as for now Windows Store will return errors for the apps in these folders as soon as the permissions are changed. Changing them back won't work.
There is a solution: you have to change the ownership of the files/folders. Here you can see the description including screenshots (there's already a copy on superuser as well). I just tried it on Win10 Creating/Editing/Deleting Files is possible.
If you want to reverse the ownership change you can find a description here. After changing it back you're user will still have access to the folder, removing all other security changes (like changed permissions) that were made during the ownership change will fix that to it's original state.
Important: In some cases the Store (or the Apps) wont function after changing the ownership and changing it back, unless you remove "all" changes not just the ownership. So make sure to create a system restore point unless you know exactly what you are doing!
Here's a copy of the description to change the ownership:
C:\Program Files\WindowsAppsin the Windows Explorer address bar and hit enter.
Observe in shock and dismay the system dialog saying you don’t own a folder on your own machine. Hit "Continue."
After hitting "Continue," you’ll be confronted by the following dialog:
Do not hit "Close"—instead click the "security tab" link.
In the following system dialog click "Advanced."
Click the "Change" link in the owner security field.
Add in your Live ID or Windows 8 user name to the "Select User or Group" system dialog.
Click "OK," "OK," and "OK."