If you download or install new software, you’ll probably want to use it immediately.
Normally you are able to open and run a program or app with no problems, so long as your PC is compatible with it.
Sometimes though, you might find that the computer won’t open a file despite opening it without an issue before.
Of course this is going to be annoying if it happens to you. The error ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file’ accompanies the problem.
So if you are experiencing this issue, you’ll be pleased to know we have a few fixes that you can try.
What Causes the Error?
There are a number of causes which could be the reason for the error message ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file’.
Most often it’s because you don’t have the correct permission to access the file itself, the drive it is on or the folder it is inside.
Trying to open a file via a shortcut to a network or different device can take longer than expected, which is another cause of the error.
Perhaps the device, folder or file has been moved or deleted, or maybe the shortcut is corrupt or the file itself.
Your antivirus might think it’s a threat or Windows might block the file for another reason.
8 Ways To Fix “Windows Cannot Access The Specified Device Path Or File” Error
Because there are various causes, there are different solutions to try.
Fix #1: Disable the Antivirus Program
Although your antivirus is supposed to scan for malware and viruses and remove or block them, sometimes false positives happen.
This is how to check whether this is the case with your problem file:
- Right-click on the toolbar and choose “Task Manager“.
- Find your antivirus app in the list at the startup tab.
- Click “Disable” to disable the antivirus.
- Try to reopen the problem file or folder to see if it works now.
Fix #2: Make Sure You Have the Required Permissions
If the permissions have been altered by an update done to the file or from an update your PC did automatically, this can produce the error.
This is how to resolve it:
- Right-click on the file where it is located on the PC.
- Click “Properties” and go to the “Security” tab.
- Find your name under the User Names or Groups section and click on it.
- Now change the permissions.
- Also ensure there is full control toggled on by the ‘System’ option under User Names or Groups.
- Hit “Apply” then “Exit” and retry opening the problematic file.
Fix #3: Unblock the File
It could be the case that Windows has blocked the file, in which case try the following:
- Right-click the file wherever it is located on the PC then select “Properties“.
- Navigate to the “General” tab then find “Security“.
- If it’s there, it will say the file came from another PC and may be blocked.
- Check the box to take the block off then click “Apply” and exit.
Fix #4: Check if the Location is Available
The location can become unavailable if you’re trying to open a file, path or device via a shortcut connected to a network or external drive.
This is how to see if it’s the problem:
- Right-click the shortcut to the file and click Properties.
- Click the shortcut tab at the top.
- Check if there is a path listed on the Target line.
- If so, copy and paste it into your file explorer.
- If not, then the location path isn’t available in which case you need to reinstall the file or program again.
Fix #5: Recreate the File or Folder Shortcut
Try deleting the shortcut if it’s corrupted and then make a new one.
This will work for Windows 7 or Windows 10:
- Right-click an empty space on the desktop.
- Select New Shortcut from the menu.
- Type the program path you want to make a shortcut for or click Browse then select the file that way.
- Press Next then type in whatever you want to name the shortcut.
- Press Finish.
If you’re using Windows 8, you just need to locate the program you want a shortcut for.
Next, right-click on it and select ‘Send to Desktop’ to make the shortcut.
Fix #6: Recover the Folder or File if Removed or Deleted
Windows won’t be able to locate a file that’s been hidden or deleted. In this case you just need to reinstall the program.
You could use third-party data recovery software to scan the PC for the file and allow you to restore it if found.
Fix #7: Repair System Files which are Corrupted
You might be missing system files required to run the program if a file, folder or device path hasn’t been used in a while.
You need to run an SFC and DISM scan to find out if this is your problem:
- Type this into the command prompt then press Enter: sfc /scannow
- Wait for the scan to finish then run these commands, pressing Enter after each:
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
- Restart the PC.
Fix #8: Use Group Policy Editor to Give Admin Permission
The final solution we have is to change the Group Policy Editor’s admin privileges. This only works for Windows 10 Pro not Windows 10 Home.
- Right-click “Start” then select the “Run” program.
- Type this then press enter: gpedit.msc (if that doesn’t work, locate the “Group Policy Editor” in “Administrative Tools” in the “Control Panel“).
- Click “Computer Navigation“.
- Go to “Security Settings” then “Local Policies” and then “Security Options“.
- Locate the ‘User account control: admin approval mode for built-in administrator’ option.
- Enable it then press “Save“.
- Restart the PC.
If none of these methods has worked, you could use Windows Hidden Administrator Mode to get into the file, as long as you boot into Safe Mode first.
Hopefully one of these solutions will solve the ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file’ error.