How to block apps access to file system on Windows 10

Windows 10 lets you decide whether or not to allow or deny apps access to your files, and here's how to configure the feature.

File system settings on Windows 10 version 1803
File system settings on Windows 10 version 1803

On Windows 10, you now have more control to decide which apps have access to your documents, pictures, videos, and those files in the OneDrive folder locally stored on your device.

In addition, starting with version 1803, Microsoft will be granting permission to certain apps to have global file system access automatically. If the app has the global file system access restricted, you’ll see a prompt to allow or deny access to the app. 

If you have to customize these settings, in the Windows 10 Redstone 4 update or later, you can do using the new File System settings. In this new section, you’ll be able to enable or disable access to your files for all apps or apps individually to protect your privacy.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to prevent apps from accessing your files on Windows 10.

How to deny file system access to apps using Settings

If you must block apps from accessing your personal files, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Privacy.

  3. Click on File system.

  4. Click the Change button.

  5. Turn on the File system access for this device toggle switch. (If disabled, file system will be denied for all users.)

    File system settings
    File system settings
  6. Turn on the Allow app to access file system toggle switch allow apps file access or turn it off to block all apps. (If disabled, file system access will be denied only in your account.)

    Allow or deny file access to apps
    Allow or deny file access to apps

If you only want to deny a particular app, simply turn off the toggle switch for the app you want under “Choose which apps can access your file system”.

Once you’ve completed the steps, the app you specified will not be permitted to access your documents, pictures, videos, and OneDrive files locally stored on your device.

At any time, you can revert the changes using the same instructions, but make sure to turn on the toggle switch for the app you want to allow access to the file system.

It’s important to note that File system will allow or deny access for all your files. If you only need to block an app access to a particular file type, you’ll need to use the Documents, Pictures, or the Videos settings page.

If you can’t find these settings, it’s likely because you’re not running the Windows 10 version 1803 (Redstone 4), which is expected to release in spring of 2018.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].