Set File and Folder Permissions for Specific users in XP/Vista

If you share your computer with multiple users, family members, friends or office colleagues – there can be situations when you might want to set folder access permissions for specific users in Windows XP or Windows Vista. If you are the administrator of your computer and don’t want other users of the same computer to access, copy, cut, move or modify the content and files of a specific folder, this guide will help you restrict folder access to specific users using the same operating system.

Note: There are already tons of software programs available which lets you either lock a folder, encrypt the contents of a USB drive or encrypt the files and subfolders of a parent folder with a single click. You can simply search Google and download these freeware applications. But if you want to define folder permissions within Windows without any software, here are the steps that needs to be followed:

How to Set Folder Permissions In Windows XP And Windows Vista

Before proceeding with the steps, please note that imposing restrictions on a specific folder in Windows might make it accessible from any shared network computer. So if you are using a local area network connection to connect multiple computers for sharing files, folders or Internet – imposing this restriction won’t allow you to access the specific folder from the network device.

1. Open Windows control panel and click on the view tab. Next choose “Folder Options”, as shown below:

setting up folder restrictions on Windows XP

2. Click the view tab and scroll all the way down until you find a check box saying “Use simple file sharing”. After selecting this option, choose “OK”.

prevent folder access from network computers

3. Now right click the folder you are sharing over the network computer and choose properties.

4. Under the Sharing tab select “Share this Folder”.

This dialog box will let you customize and choose users with whom you want to share the contents, files and sub folders of this folder. If you don’t want to share a folder with any of the network computers or the shared users of the same system, remove all the users and shared network devices one by one. The following diagram should make the process more clear.


Once you have set the desired permissions and revoked control from all or specific users of the same computer from accessing the folder in question, you are done with the setup procedure. Now there is no need to worry about the folders which you want to keep “private” or “secret”. There is practically no need to hide that folders anymore.

This concept of removing user access from a specific directory or folder from your computer is much more effective than simply “Hiding” it. This is because almost anyone can unhide the folders from the folder options menu found in Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Final Note: Please note that anyone who has an administrative account on the same computer can further reinstate access to the same folders by reversing the process, as described above. If you want complete protection, it would be best to create a “Limited” user account for all other users of the system and let your own account type be “Administrator”.


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