Making a file read-only in Windows means you or a colleague are less likely to delete or change it accidentally. This can be helpful if you dont want any unintended changes to client contracts or business invoices. If you need to save changes you can turn off the attribute temporarily, so the protection is limited. Changing a folders read-only status is less straightforward because Windows Explorer uses the read-only flag to determine if the folder is a system or other special folder, or is customized. Recent versions of Windows, therefore, dont allow you to see or change the read-only attribute of folders in Windows Explorer.

Isobel Phillips has been writing technical documentation, marketing and educational resources since 1980. She also writes on personal development for the website UnleashYourGrowth. Phillips is a qualified accountant, has lectured in accounting, math, English and information technology and holds a Bachelor of Arts honors degree in English from the University of Leeds.

How to make a folder read-only
  1. Open the folder’s property menu. …
  2. Select read-only. …
  3. Copy as path. …
  4. Open your command prompt. …
  5. Change folder attributes via command line. …
  6. Remember your settings. …
  7. Communicate with other users. …
  8. Don’t change system folders or files.

Fix Read Only Files and Folders in Windows

Why would you set a folder to read-only?

The read-only attribute is a type of security that can help protect important files or folders on your computer, and there are some situations in which you could make a certain file or folder read-only. For example, team members may have documents that contain important client information in a shared folder. To prevent someone from accidentally altering or removing any information within that file, you could set the folder to read-only. This makes the folder and every file within it read-only.

What does read-only mean?

Read-only is an attribute of a file or folder that means you can open it but not modify it. When you set a file or folder to read-only, you can see the contents of it, but you cant make edits to it or delete it. Its common for software developers to set important files to read-only so that users cant accidentally delete or change something that might cause the software to stop working.

How to make a folder read-only

How to change a folder to read-only often depends on the version of Windows you are using. You can find a method that works for your version by following these steps:

1. Open the folders property menu

One of the easiest ways to set a folder to read-only is through its property menu. To open this, navigate to the folder through Windows Explorer. When you find the folder you want to change, right-click on it and select ” Properties.” This opens the settings menu for that folder, through which you can make changes that affect the entire folder.

2. Select read-only

Within the Properties menu, there is a box towards the bottom that says “Read-only.” Click this box to turn the setting on. When you click the “Apply” button, you may see a pop-up message that alerts you to the fact youre changing all the files within that folder. If this is what you want to do, click “OK” After this, you should see a checkmark or a filled-in square in the box, telling you your folder is in read-only mode.

3. Copy as path

If you do not see this box as an option in your properties folder, there is another method you can try. First, navigate to the folder through Windows Explorer. Then, click on the folder once to highlight it without opening it. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard, then right-click on the folder. When you do, there should be an option that reads “Copy as path.” Select this option.

“Copy to path” copies the address of that folder on your computer. You will need this information in the next step. “Copy to path&quo; is one way to get the address of the folder on your computer, but you also can type it if you know what it is.

4. Open your command prompt

You can open the Windows command prompt in several ways. You may find the command prompt in the “Windows Accessories” folder, which you can find through the start menu. Another option is to select the “Run” option in your Windows start menu, then type in “cmd” Finally, for newer Windows users, you can type “cmd” into the search bar in your Start menu, then select “cmd.exe” Any of these options should open your command prompt, which is a window with a black background and white text.

5. Change folder attributes via command line

Once in your command prompt, type “attrib” This tells Windows you are about to change somethings attributes. Next, add a space and type either “-r” if you want to remove the read-only attribute from a folder or “+r” if you want to add it. Lastly, include another space, then add in your folders address. If you used the “Copy to path&quo; option, you can paste this into the command prompt by either right-clicking or using “CTRL-V” on your keyboard.

Once you typed this in, your line should look like “attrib +r drive:pathfolder” Press enter on your keyboard, and the attribute of that folder changes. If successful, type in “exit” and press enter to close out of the command prompt window.

Tips for making a folder read-only

When changing the read-only settings of a file or folder, consider using the following tips:

Remember your settings

After you change the settings of a file or folder, try to create a note or reminder for yourself. If you change the settings often or use varying settings on different files, keeping a written record can help you remember the current settings of each. In addition, if you run into any issues with the folder, you can refer to your list to see whether thats the cause of your problem.

Communicate with other users

If other users access the folder you are adjusting the settings for, consider communicating those changes with them. For example, if you make a folder read-only, other users wont be able to change files within it anymore. Knowing youve changed the settings of the folder can help them adjust more quickly.

Dont change system folders or files

When changing the settings of folders on your computer, try to avoid important system folders. Computers typically apply the correct settings for these folders automatically, and adjusting them may cause issues with your system. Unless you notice theres an error in the settings of these folders, consider leaving them as they are.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


How can I lock a folder in read only?

When a file is set to read-only, it cannot be changed.
  1. Right-click the file or folder you want to set to read-only, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the General tab, select the Read-only check box, and then click OK.

How do I make a Windows folder read only?

Windows hardening expert Jonathan Hassell explains how to make a Windows folder that multiple users share read-only.
  1. Right-click on the folder and select Sharing and Security from the pop-up context menu.
  2. Choose to share the folder, and give it a name.
  3. Click the Permissions button.
  4. Add specific users as necessary.

How do I make a file read only permanently?

Set File Permissions:
  1. Right-click the file in question, select Properties.
  2. Switch to the Security tab.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Click the Change Permissions button (if needed.)
  5. Uncheck the box that says Include inheritable permissions from this object’s parent.
  6. Choose Add when prompted.

How do I protect a folder from editing?

Select and right-click the file, folder, or group of files, and then select Properties from the drop-down menu that appears.
  1. In the File Properties window, under the General tab, check the box for Read-only or Read-only (Only applies to files in this folder) near the bottom.
  2. Click the OK button to save the new setting.

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