This article was previously published under Q326549
For a Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows 98, and Microsoft Windows 95 version of this article, see 256614.
This article contains step-by-step instructions on how to use the Attrib command to work around the inability to view or to remove the Read-only or the System attributes of folders in Windows Server 2003, in WindowsXP, Windows Vista and in Windows 7.
This article is intended for advanced computer users.
Symptoms of the problem
You may experience any of the following symptoms:
You cannot view or change the Read-only or System attributes of a folder by using the Properties dialog box for the folder. For example, you may experience the following symptoms:
When you view the General tab of a folder's Properties dialog box, the Read-only check box is not available, and there is no check box to change the System attribute.
You click to clear or click to select the Read-only check box on the General tab of a folder's Properties dialog box. When you click OK or Apply, you receive the following message:
Confirm Attribute Changes You have chosen to make the following attribute changes: unset read-only Do you want to apply this change to this folder only, or do you want to apply it to all subfolders and files as well?
If you click Apply changes to this folder only, the Read-only attribute is changed for all the files in the folder. However, the Read-only attribute is not changed for the folder, its subfolders, or any files in its subfolders. If you click Apply changes to this folder, subfolders, and files, the Read-only attribute is changed for all files in the folder and all files in the subfolders. However, the Read-only attribute is not changed for the folder or its subfolders.
Some programs may display error messages when you try to save files to a folder that uses the Read-only or System attribute. As a result, these programs may not be able to save files to the folder.
Note Unlike the Read-only attribute for a file, the Read-only attribute for a folder is typically ignored by Windows, Windows components and accessories, and other programs. For example, you can delete, rename, and change a folder with the Read-only attribute by using Windows Explorer.
The Read-only and System attributes is only used by Windows Explorer to determine whether the folder is a special folder, such as a system folder that has its view customized by Windows (for example, My Documents, Favorites, Fonts, Downloaded Program Files), or a folder that you customized by using the Customize tab of the folder's Properties dialog box. As a result, Windows Explorer does not allow you to view or change the Read-only or System attributes of folders. When a folder has the Read-Only attribute set it causes Explorer to request the Desktop.ini of that folder to see if any special folder settings need to be set. It has been seen where if a network share that has a large amount of folders set to Read-only, it can cause Explorer to take longer then what is expected to render the contents of that share while it waits on the retrieval of the Desktop.ini files. The slower the network connectivity to the share the longer this process can take to the point where Explorer may timeout waiting for the data and render nothing or appear to hang.
Note In some previous versions of Windows, you can change the Read-only attribute for folders by using the Properties dialog box for the folder, but no versions of Windows permit you to change the System attribute by using Windows Explorer.
Steps to work around this problem
To work around this problem, use the Attrib command at a command prompt (Cmd.exe) to view or to remove the Read-only or the System attributes of folders.
To view or to remove the Read-only or the System attributes of folders
Warning If you remove the Read-only or System attribute from a folder, it may appear as a ordinary folder and some customizations may be lost. For example, Windows customizes the Fonts folder and provides a special folder view that permits you to hide variations, such as bold and italic. It also permits you to change the folder's view settings in ways that are specific to fonts. If you remove the Read-only and System attributes of the Fonts folder, these customized view settings are not available. For folders that you have customized by using the Customize tab of the folder's Properties dialog box, the folder icon and other other customizations may be lost when you remove the Read-only attribute.
If a program cannot save files to a folder with the Read-only attribute, such as My Documents, change the Read-only attribute to System by using the Attrib command at a command prompt.
Note If the Run command is not listed on the Start menu, do the following: Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Run.
To remove the Read-only attribute and to set the System attribute, use the following command:
attrib -r +s drive:\<path>\<foldername>
For example, to remove the Read-only attribute and to set the System attribute for the C:\Test folder, use the following command:
attrib -r +s c:\test
Be aware that some programs may not operate correctly with folders for which the System attribute and the Read-only attribute are set. Therefore, use the following command to remove these attributes:
attrib -r -s c:\test
This behavior is by design.
Windows stores file and folder attributes in the file system with the file and folder name, extension, date and time stamps, and other information. The Read-only check box for folders is not available because it does not apply to the folder. You can use this check box to set the Read-only attribute for files in the folder. However, you cannot use Windows Explorer to determine whether a folder has the Read-only and System attributes set. To determine the attributes that are set on a folder, or to change these attributes, you must use the Attrib command at a command prompt.
For more information about system attributes, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
308419 How to set, view, change, or remove special permissions for files and folders in Windows XP
277867 Windows NTFS permissions are required when you run Word on any NTFS partition that has Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Vista installed
If the previous articles do not help you resolve the problem or if you experience symptoms that differ from those that are described in this article, search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for more information. To search the Microsoft Knowledge Base, visit the following Microsoft Web site: