How-To

How to Take Full Permissions Control to Edit Protected Registry Keys

Learn how to take ownership of protected registry keys in Windows so you can edit them.

The Windows registry is a hassle to edit under normal circumstances, but sometimes you’ll encounter keys that are protected by the system. When you try to add or edit a protected registry key or import settings from a .reg file into a protected key, you’ll run into a few different errors. They say you lack permissions for making changes. However, since it is just a permissions issue, we can get around this by granting your user account in Windows the correct permissions. Read on to learn how.

How Do I Know the Registry Key is Protected?

When trying to create a new entry within a protected key you’ll an error like this:

Cannot create key error in Windows Registry

When you try to edit a protected key, you’ll see an error like this:

Cannot edit error in Windows Registry

When you run a ready-made .reg file to add, change, or delete a protected key, you’ll see an error like this:

Cannot import reg file for Windows Registry

Take Ownership of a Protected Key in the Registry

If you encounter the above errors, without a doubt, you’ve encountered a protected registry key. Normally these keys are only open to modification by the Windows system. But if you follow the steps below, you’ll be able to edit any registry key. Be careful with your new power, though.

The Registry Editor is a powerful tool that can render your system unstable or even inoperable if misused. This is a fairly simple change and if you follow our instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. But make sure you back up the Registry and back up your computer before making changes.

You should also make a System Restore point before continuing so, if something goes wrong, you can always roll back.

Press Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box. Then, type: regedit into the Open box and click OK.

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue. You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

Open the Registry Editor in Windows

Navigate to the registry key you want to take ownership of. You can enter the path to the key in the box just under the menu bar and press Enter to get to the key quickly.

Right-click on the key and select Permissions.

Open the Permissions dialog box for a key in the Windows Registry

Click Advanced on the Permissions dialog box.

Click Advanced on the Permissions dialog box in the Windows Registry

If your user account isn’t the current Owner, click the Change link.

Click the Change link for the Owner of a key in the Windows Registry

Type your user name in the Enter the object name to select box and then click Check Names.

Click Check Names to enter user name on Select User or Group dialog box in Windows Registry

Your official user name is inserted into the Enter the object name to select box.

Click OK to accept the change.

Close the Select User or Group dialog box in the Windows Regisry

Your name should display next to Owner.

If the current key has subkeys you want to take ownership of also, check the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects box.

Then, click Apply. Don’t close the dialog box yet.

After you change the owner of a registry key, you must change the key’s permissions before you can modify it. The next section describes how to do this.

Click Apply on the Advanced Security Settings dialog box in the Windows Registry

Get Full Control Permissions to a Registry key

If the current key inherited permissions from its parent key, you’ll see a Disable inheritance button.

You must disable inheritance to remove any existing restrictions, so click the Disable inheritance button if it’s there.

Click Disable inheritance on the Advanced Security Settings dialog box in the Windows Registry

To give yourself permission to edit the currently selected registry key, click Add.

Click Add on the Advanced Security Settings dialog box in the Windows Registry

On the Permission Entry dialog box, click the Select a principal link.

Then, type your user name in the Enter the object name to select box and click Check Names, like you did earlier.

Then, click OK.

Click Select a principal and select a user or group for permissions in the Windows Registry

Check the Full Control box under Basic permissions and click OK.

Check Full Control and click OK on the Permission Entry dialog box in the Windows Registry

You’ll see your user name in the Permission entries list with Full Control listed in the Access column.

You can set the permissions for only the selected registry key, or you can set permissions on the subkeys also. To apply the same permissions to the selected registry key and down the keys hierarchy to all the the child subkeys, check the Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object box.

Then, click OK.

Close the Advanced Security Settings dialog box in the Windows Registry

Your user name is added to the Group or user names box. Click OK to close the Permissions dialog box.

Close the Permissions dialog box in the Windows Registry

Remove Permissions from a Registry Key

Once you make your change to the registry key, it’s a good idea to remove your permissions for the key.

Right-click on the key again, select Permissions, and select your user name in the Group or user names list on the Permissions dialog box.

Then, click Remove. Your user name is removed from the Group or user names list.

If you think you might have to adjust your permissions for this registry key again, you can uncheck the Full Control box under Allow in the Permissions box instead of removing your user name completely. Then, you can just return to the Permissions dialog box for the registry key and check the Full Control box under Allow again for your user name.

Click OK.

Remove a user on the Permissions dialog box in the Windows Registry

You Can Change Any Registry Key, But Be Careful

You should now be able to edit any of the entries within the registry key that you just modified permissions for. Don’t forget that if you want to maintain proper security protocol, after finishing you can go back in and remove your user name from the list of names with full control on the Permissions dialog box. And be very careful when you change anything in the registry.


63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. Koutheir Attouchi  

    Be careful what you’re doing! You are making Windows more and more vulnerable to attacks!

    • Jorje Inglasies  

      Very true, this leaves protected registry files open to attack.

      But then again, after you have finished editing them it is very easy to undo your permissions as stated at the bottom the article.

      • Vadim Schmidt  

        Agreed. mrgroove should probably highlight that point so it sticks out a little more – Once you make the tweak you need, reverse the process to lock things back up again.

        Probably is Microsoft locked it up, there’s a reason!

    • Pawel  

      Besides it is not working.

      I can not set any permissions – every time I have “Access denied”

      And registry key stayed unchanged.

      • Fred G.  

        hi pawel! try running regedit as administrator (right click and hit run as administrator)

    • joe  

      however, the file lost ownership can’t be reset , as it can’t be see in the window, how to solve this?

      for example, i wrongly remove the security setting in the “security tab”(tab) of a file, no it would no any security setting as well any ownership etc under its tab, i want to reset the ownership of the file, how to do so

      takeown /F “full path of file with file extension” /A

      i saw a execute from google, but it didn’t work, as it turn out the file can’t access as it was used by some program

  2. Koutheir Attouchi  

    I recommend that, before editing the registry, one should start his computer in fail-safe mode, and make a restore point before starting edition of keys. This to allow for fault tolerance and to ensure minimal number of programs get started, and thus decrease vulnerabilities while doing critical tweeks…

    • Vadim Schmidt  

      I agree with the system restore point ANY TIME you make a tweak to the registry. I think the safe-mode is a bit overkill but a system restore point for sure.

  3. Rod Seed  

    Please Mr Groove could you tell us novices which key it is?

    Thanks
    Rod Seed

    • goLfie  

      This should work for any registry key.

  4. adel  

    thank you so much Mr. Groove for the article

    but I want some details about how to do it using Command prompt

    I need it bu commands ot like batch file;

    thank you again

    Adel

  5. Maniatico  

    Thank you brother for you again I have not formatted my pc

    thank you very much

  6. irvan  

    i got message when i click apply button..

    “Unable to set new owner on usbstor Access is Denied”

  7. Jacob Harris  

    I tried taking full control and this came up, “unable to save permission changes on internet settings. Access is denied.” What do I do?

  8. Jerimiah  

    I did this exactly as you indicated but the same error message appears. I am trying to change a services “Start” value from 2 to 3. However, even after changing the owner (including replacing owner on subcontainers and objects) and setting permissions, the error message is
    Cannot edit Start: Error writing the value’s new contents.

    For what it’s worth, I am trying to change the service startup type for LEMSS Agent. I receive similar access denied error when trying to change the startup type through services.msc and even by attempting to disable through msconfig.

    Also, I am a local administrator to this Windows XP machine. I’ve tried logging off and back on and can see that the permissions are still saved, but I also still receive the same error message.

    Any thoughts?

  9. ben tumakaka  

    it’s an old fashion, but still i keep try it when ever I read on some blog about it, hopefully it’ll work out for me. but it didn’t work.
    it’s always returned: unable to save..etc.. Access denied. Even though I’m logged in using super admin account. you know, the one that you can enable it from cmd?

  10. ted mosby  

    i got an access denied when i tried to replace owner

  11. ted mosby  

    *i got an access denied when i tried to “replace owner” in step 3

    • Are you logged into Windows with an Administrator account? If not, you may need to run regedit as an administrator.

  12. John Zucker  

    This does not seem to be a working recipe, unfortunately.

    Step 3 states exactly what I wish to achieve. I select my username in the Owner tab for Advanced Security Settings for DesktopProtection. I use this account under the ‘Change owner to:’ pane. Having selected my name as the new owner of the item, I click ‘Apply’. This gives me a popup ‘Unable to set new owner on DesktopProtection. Access is denied.’

    There are very many articles, such as the current one, online about how to change protected registry keys. Unfortunately at this point I have not yet found one which genuinely works.

  13. Phil Lock  

    Thanks a million for that! I had the vbscript message after removing mcafee and even though I found the key I couldn’t change it – until I came here.

    Lifesaver :-D !!!

  14. Windows 7 HP Mini 110 User  

    It worked. Thank you!

  15. Dave  

    Step 3 – access denied!
    YES I ran as administrator.
    ACCESS DENIED for everything I try to do.

  16. Simon  

    I have the same issue with a small number of registry keys (all MS Office 2010 related). First noticed it when Office tried to install an update and kept failing with a 1406 error. When I manually checked the keys involved (running regedit as Admin) I could not get access using the method described above, or any other. I’m thinking some sort of hive corruption somewhere, but cannot identify where or how to fix it.

  17. Ramesh  

    Thanks for u r tips..Its very helpful…..

  18. Ucupduyeh  

    tks dude

  19. asnowfall  

    Thanks this worked in Win7 Ultimate

  20. Hans  

    I want to delete the following : HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{73C9DFA0-750D-11E1-B0C4-0800200C9A66
    My name is on the permission list.
    However when trying to delete that entry, I get the message : error when deleting that key.
    what is wrong ?
    thanks for help

  21. Abhinav  

    please tell how to do this on windows 8

  22. Mr V-Guard  

    You need to start asking yourselves who’s computer is it !

    I am in regedit as administrator and cannot take ownership of a key node so that i can remove Microsoft spying on every thing I do and that includes in depth details about every device you have ever plugged in to your USB port.

    I tried to get around this “We won’t let you do it” by using some C# code after backing up the registry and as soon as the code hit the break-point I had set windows threw up an error message outside the visual studio debugger and soon after that the computer went bang and windows would not let me import my saved copy of the registry so I took a day rebuilding the darn machine.

    Microsoft is doing all it can to hide details about the registry and often uses keys ten levels deep to stop anyone spotting just how much privacy is being broken but I have written code that audits all the changes to the registry using SHA1 on value/data and then saving the results in an XML file and I can tell you now that windows seven even on a rebuild has over 400,000 keys and holds something like 3,000,000 bits of data.

    Nope I don’t trust Microsoft and its dirty tactics and was they to spend half as much time fixing windows as they do at auditing our every move for the NSA then windows would not keep blowing up as it does now.

  23. Carmen  

    Thank you, this allowed me to change a third-party software key that for some stupid reason kept reverting back to its original value!!!!

  24. Jay Reaper  

    Gotta admit, I find it pretty amusing when people say that Groove is making Windows less safe. If Microsoft would get their crap together and allow users to fix problems on their PC without compromising their security (something that Microsoft, since it’s founding, still gets a giant ‘F’ grade on), then people wouldn’t have to post helpful and, sometimes, necessary information that may also be harmful when used inappropriately.

    Ah Microsoft…one day you’ll be decent.

  25. Harry  

    That “thanks for visiting my site” ad for subscription is most annoying. :-)

    At the end of the day no one solved the access denied issue that several people complained about even when running as a local administrator.

  26. sheshank  

    hello i cannot find Owner tab in advanced Security Settings

  27. Ali  

    Thanks! Worked perfectly. I would recommend to undo this once your done editting your registry so that you’re not prone to security issues later on…

  28. Rey  

    i need complet path for signature update,in registry editor

  29. Subash  

    Thanks for your help. Its working.

  30. Michael Baeta  

    Cood day, its not working and the same error is rising, what i can do???

    • nirzec  

      Dear @michaelBaeta,

      Do the same process, but one.

      Instead of typing in your account’s name type : “Everyone”.

      Also ensure that you give it “Full Control” access too.

      -nirzec

  31. nirzec  

    Greetings!

    I appreciate your contribution.

    Many thanks, as your post helped me.

    -nirzec

  32. VB007  

    when i edit it and press ok…it says cannot edit…access denied

    • Mohamed Rashed  

      me too

  33. Naveen Kumar  

    Thanks, it was a real helpful peace of information, straight to the point. ! thank u!

  34. Punda  

    It says “Unable to set new owner on update” and “Access is denied”

  35. DoneReady  

    This recipe doesn’t work for windows 10, I’ve been on it for hours still no solution……

  36. Doug Radzanowski  

    You know, I just feel I need to respond in defense of this post.
    People are saying “this doesn’t work for anyone”. That’s simply not true. Multiple people have posted that it worked, and said thanks.
    Furthermore, many people have issues that are completely different and more complex than a simple “Access is denied” issue.
    Also, we’ve launched into a diatribe about how Microsoft is spying on everyone. There’s a middle ground here. Yes Windows X goes too far in their information gathering. But no, they don’t “get an F”. Some information is necessary to improve their OS. If you don’t know anything about the problems people are having, how do you fix them? Error logs, examples of code. These are necessary to improve.
    Finally, in addition to a full system restore point, you can also just backup the registry itself.
    Y’all need to keep calm and groove on.

  37. “unable to change owner on windows.access is denied”.Now what should I do about this?

  38. Don  

    I was trying to edit the registry on an old Windows Small Business Server 2003 and the DOS prompt, right click, run as administrator, regedit gave me the same lack of permission error (it even prevented me from backing up the registry key to the desktop or my documents before trying to make changes) . I tried several different things like verify I am logged in as administrator, check permissions etc with no success. I then tried to do the regedit without first right click run as administrator permission and then everything worked. Apparently the right click run as administrator is different than the login as administrator then run regedit normally.

  39. John  

    Thanks, very useful.

  40. Bertholdous  

    Hi.
    I did the steps, but I cannot remove or modify the key “[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\WPA\PosReady]” on windows XP, to not displays Updates POS Ready.

  41. Bertholdous  

    Hi. I cannot Delete or Modify the key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\WPA\PosReady on Windows XP SP3.

    This was added executing the .reg file:
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\WPA\PosReady]
    “Installed”=dword:00000001

    Please, I did something bad step??

  42. Don  

    Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP a long time ago. There are plenty of other websites that show how to introduce hacks into the registry to try and get free support without having to bring this to the groovypost forums.

  43. I have an issues with a key that is owned by system. The only way I could change permissions was to edit the registry in SAFE mode. However, when rebooting I once again cannot edit the key even though I have permissions to now do so. I expect that when the system is running it is somehow protecting this key from being changed.

    It seems somewhat bizarre that a Microsoft product, MSSQL, cannot install correctly because it can not access the key!

  44. SupaVayza  

    thank you i pulled my scalp out trying to slide a DWORD key in,i’m a heavy registry tweaker i’ll disable this nonesense all together tired of my own computer dictating to me tired of all the security BS let the “hackers” log in into my computer and enjoy my 100 GB music collection

    • Gordon L Edwards  

      The instructions skips a few steps. When I try it, i do not get the menus show in the article.

  45. Paul Steel  

    In Windows 10 there is a change in the entries shown when Advanced is opened. Instead of an Owner tab, there is at the top the Owner, and a Change option. The given entery was TrustedInstaller. I changed it to my username, and did the Check Names procedure.
    This worked for me! However, after following the instructions to return the Owner to TrustedInstaller, which by the way, has full control, when I click ‘CheckNames”, it cannot find TrustedInstaller.
    I did delete the entries giving Full Control to my UserName.

    • Paul Steel  

      To return Owner to Trusted Installer, enter the object name as NT Service\TrustedInstaller, then click Check Names. TrustedInstaller should appear.

  46. Kevin Boone  

    Greetings. Thanks for the information. I now have a Windows 10 HP laptop. I also have two 6 and 7 yr old ACER laptops running Windows 7 both of which no longer will turn on, and I don’t know why — but that’s not the problem…lol. Each contains video files I don’t often watch, so I stored the computers 3 years ago when this happened several months apart knowing I’d have the time to deal with the issue later. I now have the time. I will follow your process for regaining the files — video ones in MP-4 (most in high-definition) and a Windows Movie Maker format (the name of which escapes me now). Are there any external drives you’d recommend which can handle 500 gigabytes of video which also allows me to archive files by category? T H A N K S !

    • Hi Kevin – great question. My suggestion, post your question in our community discussion forum – forum.groovypost.com. You will get much more action on that than in these comments.

  47. Karin  

    Everything worked for me regarding the change of ownership to my user and the full control permission to my user and I also checked the subkeys to be included in the ownership. However, I can still not change the dword value underneath. It’s within the Microsoft Windows Defender HKLM/Software key. Any clues?
    I did run REGEDIT both as administrator and with my regular user, but no difference in that.

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