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Remove the Lock Icon from a Folder in Windows 7

If you’ve been playing around with folder sharing or security options, then you might have ended up with an unsightly lock icon on a folder. We’ll show you how to get rid of that icon without over-sharing it.

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The lock icon in Windows 7 indicates that the file or folder can only be accessed by you, and not any other user on your computer. If this is desired, then the lock icon is a good way to ensure that those settings are in place. If this isn’t your intention, then it’s an eyesore.

To remove the lock icon, we have to change the security settings on the folder to allow the Users group to, at the very least, read from the folder.

Right-click on the folder with the lock icon and select Properties. Switch to the Security tab, and then press the Edit… button.

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A list of groups and users that have access to the folder appears. Missing from the list will be the “Users” group. Click the Add… button.

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The next window is a bit confusing, but all you need to do is enter “Users” into the text field near the bottom of the window. Click the Check Names button.

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“Users” will change to the location of the Users group on your particular computer. In our case, this is PHOENIX\Users (PHOENIX is the name of our test machine). Click OK.

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The Users group should now appear in the list of Groups and Users with access to the folder. You can modify the specific permissions that the Users group has if you’d like – at the minimum, it must have Read access. Click OK.

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Keep clicking OK until you’re back at the Explorer window. You should now see that the lock icon is gone from your folder!

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It may be a small aesthetic nuance, but having that one folder stick out in a group of other folders is needlessly distracting. Fortunately, the fix is quick and easy, and does not compromise the security of the folder!

Trevor is our resident Linux geek, but always keeps his eyes open for neat Windows tricks too.

  • Published 05/13/10

Comments (31)

  1. Jon

    Actually, you have compromised the security of the folder. Before you only had user Trevor and local Administrators with NTFS permissions. Now you have added all local Users with Read permission. It’s not exactly Full Control but you shouldn’t just give everyone access to anything for the sake of a folder icon.

    You will typically see this type of icon on user profile folders under C:\Users. If you add the local Users group with Read permission then everyone will be able to read the data. Not a a good idea, especially if a family is using a single PC.

  2. brian99

    I have been having a problem with the lock so I was hoping this would help fix the problem.
    However, it did not work for me.

    After I go through the steps outlined and then I click apply, I get this error message:
    An error occurred while applying security information to:
    B:\Documents and Settings\All Users
    Access Denied

    Then when I click continue I get this message:
    Unable to change permission on all users.
    Access is Denied.

    I hope someone knows how to solve this problem.

  3. JHubbard92

    I agree completely with @Jon, it is not a good idea if you did it on a shared PC to the C:\Users folder. Surely there is a registry hack for this somehow?

  4. Trevor Bekolay

    @Jon and @JHubbard92

    Yeah, you guys are right. I think I’ve come across a registry hack solution, so I will write that up tonight, if it works, and edit this article to reflect the security ramifications.

  5. Trevor Bekolay

    @brian99

    In that case, the lock icon on those files / folders reflects the fact that another user owns those files and is not sharing them with everybody. You would need access to an administrator account on that computer to change the security settings on those files. If you are an administrator on that computer, then you may have to change ownership of those files so that you are listed as the owner of them.

  6. Austang

    @Jon and Jhubbuard
    A registry fix is actually quite funny.. Once you apply it would it force you to exit regedit?

  7. Pete

    Wrong approach.

  8. eldin

    i dont know how it got the lock icon in the first place, but it worked for me after getting some error messages, i just hit continue like ten times and it did something and the icon disappeared. the icon i think means it was encrypted and if you had to reinstall windows and you backup those files to a flash drive or whatever, you wouldn’t have access to them anymore cause its like impossible to decrypt the files without the keys saved.

    if its your computer and your not on some kind of network i dont see the need for encrypting the files. i was lucky to be able to remove that. i did somehow lose my documents… but i had them saved elsewhere before they became encrypted.

  9. varun

    Thank a lot

  10. Ted

    you’re right about why the lock icon is there, but why not just create another user account instead of using the group users?

  11. vaibhav

    thanks it worked for me

  12. abhinav

    thanx a lot.. it worked fine for me..keep helpin …thanks

  13. Frost

    i am unable to access my locked windows folders from a linux environment after shifting to ubuntu. is there a way to access them now.

  14. Kevin

    I tried to follow the exact instructions. As soon as I try to edit the security for system, everyone, or administrator and hit Apply then Okay it still says “Access Denied”. What the heck is up Windows 7 Ultimate, time to go back to Windows XP pro

  15. larry

    This worked for me. In my case it was the music folder that was locked. I want all users to have access to those tunes. No security issues as far as I can see.

  16. Sterling

    this did not work for me… somehow microsoft.net framework 4 folder 34366811cf7e5d056e27f7a656 ended up on my external HD. and if that’s not odd enough, it has a lock on it so i can’t delete it. and i really want to delete it. it doesn’t need to be on my external HD… why would windows update even put it on my external???? and why can’t i change the permissions on it so i can delete it?

  17. sri

    thanks for your successions nice post

  18. Sameer

    thnx it worked

  19. percy

    I have been using Windows 7 for about 6 months. I just hate it and hate it a little more every day I use it. This is the most unfriendly program that Microsoft ever put out. I have just purchased XP Pro again and can’t wait to get it installed.

  20. Naitik

    Great..
    Thanx a lot man…
    It Worked……..

  21. Ardeshir

    Thank You Trevor, Love the idea :D

  22. AidanPeninsula

    That worked very well! Thanks for the solution you came up with!

  23. Dudley

    Thanks!

  24. gopalakrishnan.P

    thanks a lot dude, in got it rid from my folder

  25. ZEESHAN

    THANKS MY NAME ZEESHAN

  26. ZEESHAN

    have been using Windows 7 for about 6 months. I just hate it and hate it a little more every day I use it. This is the most unfriendly program that Microsoft ever put out. I have just purchased XP Pro again and can’t wait to get it installed.

  27. ZEESHAN

    SABA ZEESHAN MY MOBILE NUMBER 03074834789 I LIKE S FRIENDS SHIP RUPLY FAST

  28. zx1alu4f53

    แล้วถ้าเราจะเปลี่ยนชื่อโฟลเดอร์นี้ล่ะครับ ทำไงไงอีกอ่ะ รบกวนด้วยครับ

  29. zx1alu4f53

    เปลี่ยนชื่อโฟนเดอร์นี้ทำไง

  30. zx1alu4f53

    แล้วถ้าเปลี่ยนชื่อโฟนเดอร์นี้อีกทำไง

  31. Joe

    worked for me and i am a computer klutz

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