How to Change File Access Permissions for Windows 10 Apps


WIndows 10 1803 and above allows you to control which apps have permissions to certain files on your system.

With each new Windows 10 feature update, Microsoft improves privacy settings. Starting with Windows 10 1803 April Update there are more ways to control file access. You can restrict or deny UWP app (not win32) access to the files stored in your Documents and Pictures libraries. You can even lock down apps and deny permissions to the full file system.

File Access Permissions on Windows 10

To set permissions, you can do it on an app-by-app basis or multiple apps at once. To get started, head to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features to see the list of apps installed on your system. Click or tap on an app from the list and then the Advanced Options link.

Settings apps features

On the next screen, under the “App Permissions” section, toggle the switches on or off for which files you want the app to have access to. Each app varies but you can choose to allow or deny access to libraries like Pictures, Videos, Contacts, or Documents.

Note: You can only manage permissions for Microsoft Store or UWP apps. Even though traditional desktop applications are listed in the Settings section, they don’t have an “Advanced Options” link. In this section, you can also choose which apps have hardware permissions, too. For example, maybe you don’t want Facebook to have access to your camera.

Restrict Permissions

If you want to restrict permissions to files from multiple apps, head to Settings > Privacy. Then scroll down in the left panel and choose a library you want to restrict – Documents, Videos, or Pictures. Then in the right pane, you have the option to turn off access to all apps in one fell swoop.

Or, scroll through the list of apps and turn off the ones you don’t want to have access to that library or hardware device.

device app permissions

It’s also worth noting that you can restrict an app’s access to the entire File System. This is a “nuclear” option and includes Documents, Videos, Pictures as well as synced files in the local OneDrive folder.

This new feature is meant to provide you with more control over which apps can access your files, folders, and hardware. And while it isn’t perfect, (Some native apps such as Photos can’t be restricted) it’s safe to assume Microsoft will continue to improve on its Privacy settings as Windows 10 continues to mature.

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