Many of us may not have heard of it, but Windows 10 has a hidden folder named ‘WindowsApps,” where all the latest apps, such as Microsoft Store apps, are sandboxed from everything else in the system. Its ownership is held by a built-in Microsoft user account called “TrustedInstaller,” which makes it technically difficult to access for security reasons.
Why would you want to bypass this restriction? For one, there is a lot of reusable space inside the WindowsApps folder, and you should get rid of the unnecessary junk. Even if you don’t delete anything, you will find relevant information on apps like Mail, Photos, and games installed through Xbox Game Pass for PC. If you’re the Administrator or system user of your computer, follow the methods below to access the WindowsApps folder.
The Faster Method: Take Ownership Registry Hack
There are two distinct ways to reach the WindowsApps folder: either by using a simple registry hack or through a manual change of folder ownership. Both are equally safe, though the first one is slightly faster.
To use the fast context-menu method, you can download this Take Ownership registry hack (no longer available). To install it, just open the ZIP file and double-click “InstallTakeOwnership.reg.” You may also extract the folder first to open the file. There is another file, “RemoveTakeOwnership.reg,” which does the complete opposite by restoring ownership to TrustedInstaller.
You will get a registry editor alert that “adding the information can unintentionally change or delete values and cause components to stop working correctly.” This is just a precautionary note that you can safely ignore in the case of this installer. Click “Yes” to proceed.
You should notice an “Install TakeOwnership.reg have been successfully added to the registry” success message.
Now go to your Windows File Explorer “frequent folders” using the shortcut key Win + E. Go to “This PC” and open C drive where the Program Files will be available.
Go down the Program Files path, and you will notice a hidden WindowsApps folder. If you haven’t previously enabled viewing hidden folders on your PC, go to the “View” tab and check the “hidden items” menu.
Once the hidden WindowsApps folder is visible, right-click and select “Take ownership.”
A command prompt window will open, which will confirm a transfer of WindowsApps folder ownership. Close the window.
Now you will be able to access the WindowsApps folder easily.
You can choose to delete unnecessary files from WindowsApps if you want. This will bring back a lot of reusable space on C drive.
Second Method: Get Access to WindowsApps Folder in Windows 10 Manually
If you don’t want to have a “Take Ownership” command in your context menu for security or other reasons, you can access the WindowsApps folder manually as well.
Go back to the Program Files in C drive and try to notice the hidden WindowsApps folder. The detailed steps to view the hidden folder have been covered in the previous section.
Though you can see the folder, you cannot open the folder to see the files in it. If you try to open it, your access will be denied even if you are the administrator.
To get access to the WindowsApps folder, right-click on the folder and then select the “Properties” option from the list of context menu options.
The above action will open the Properties window. Navigate to the Security tab and click on the “Advanced” button appearing at the bottom of the window.
Once the Advanced Security Settings window has been opened, click on the “Change” link appearing next to “TrustedInstaller,” which is a default setting.
Under the “Select User or Group” window you will find the “Check Names” button. Your task is to enter any name which is registered with your PC. This action will automatically fill in the object name. If it’s your own PC, you’re the administrator, meaning you can simply type
administrator and click “Check Names.” This is really the fastest approach to get the correct access.
As shown here, the “Administrator” name is acceptable to the system and is automatically added. Just click “OK” to proceed.
You may use other system user names as well. As long as a system user is authorized to view the hidden folders and apps, they can access the WindowsApps folder as the new owner.
If the system user is unknown or you made a spelling error, you will notice a “cannot be found” error while trying to add the incorrect name.
Now we come to the main step. Here in the main window you can see that the owner of the folder has been changed to your specified administrator account. Before applying the change, make sure that the “Replace owner on sub containers and objects” checkbox is selected, otherwise you won’t be able to interact with other files and folders inside the WindowsApps folder.
After you’ve done everything, click on the Apply and OK buttons to save the changes.
As soon as you click on the OK button, Windows will start to change the file and folder permissions.
You will finally notice a success status message: “If you have just taken ownership of this object, you will need to close and reopen this object’s properties before you can view or change permissions.” Click OK to proceed.
Now you should be able to access the WindowsApps folder without any problems, either in administrator mode or as an approved system user.
Whichever method you use, you should now have access to the WindowsApps folder. You can also use the same method to take control of any folder on your hard drive. For further tips and hacks for Windows 10, read our guide on how to check CPU temperatures on your PC. And in a bit of a throwback guide, we’ve curated a list of great screensavers for Windows 10, too.
Image credit: Windows 10 main screen with all apps running by DepositPhotos