How To Delete Read Only Files

By Abby •  Updated: 11/05/22 •  3 min read

A read-only file is one that has the read-only file attribute enabled. It can be accessed and viewed just like any other file, but it cannot be written to (saving changes). To put it another way, the file can only be read from and not written to.

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A read-only file usually suggests that it should not be edited or that extreme caution should be exercised before making changes to it.

Other than files, read-only devices can include specially configured flash drives and other solid state storage devices such as SD cards. Some parts of your computer’s memory may also be marked as read-only.

When you make a document readable only by other people, all that anyone can do is to open it and look at it. If a reviewer tries to change some of your read-write files, the change may not be retained unless you rename the document or save it in a new file location.

Aside from the rare case where you or someone else has manually set a read-only flag on a file, the majority of these files are crucial ones that your operating system requires to start correctly or that, if changed or removed, may cause your machine to crash.

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If only one file has a read-only attribute, uncheck the appropriate attribute in the file’s properties (to turn it off) and then make changes to it. After you’ve finished editing, re-enable the attribute. If a folder is tagged as read-only, it usually means that all of the files in that folder are also read-only. The difference between this and a file-based attribute is that you must update the permissions of the folder as a whole to edit the file, not just the single file.

In some cases, removing a file from your PC or Mac may be difficult because the file is marked as Read Only. You can quickly delete Read Only files in Windows or Mac OS X by modifying the file properties.

In this case, you might not want to change the read-only attribute for a group of files just to update one or two. To edit this type of read-only file, edit it in a folder that allows editing, then drag the newly produced file into the original file’s folder, overwriting it.

Whenever a file is marked to be read only, it means that it can only be accessed by the owner. Some operating systems require specific files to maintain the computer, like bootmgr, which is used by Windows to create the default home directory.

If you accidentally destroyed your read-only files or encountered an unexpected system crash that led you to lose all of your read-only data? Don’t worry, there are internet file recovery services available to you.

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