Accessing the Windows Applications folder in Windows 10.
The Windows operating system has a file directory structure that has barely changed in major releases. You will find basic system files in the Windows folder, user profile data in the Users folder, and program files in the Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders.
What about Microsoft Store apps? Unlike other desktop apps, Microsoft Store apps remain hidden in the WindowsApps secret folder. Windows restricts access to this folder from standard Windows user accounts, so you need to make some changes to view or edit it in any way. Here’s what you need to do.
What is the WindowsApps Folder in Windows 10?
The WindowsApps folder, as we mentioned, is a restricted folder that contains Microsoft Store apps. It also contains some Windows apps that use the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app style (introduced in Windows 8), such as the Your Phone app (yourphone.exe).
From a security perspective, limiting the WindowsApps folder makes sense. By isolating Microsoft Store apps from the rest of Windows and limiting file ownership by the hidden TrustedInstaller user account, Microsoft Store apps have limited access to the rest of Windows compared to standard desktop apps.
Unfortunately, this means making any changes to the WindowsApps folder (or viewing it at all) is difficult. You will first need to take action to take ownership of the folder, and then you can change it.
However, it is important to consider the security risks before attempting to do this. While Microsoft checks apps for quality and security, restricting access to the WindowsApps folder adds another layer of protection by preventing access to other sensitive files or folders (for example, your user profile folder in the C: Users directory).
By becoming the owner of a folder, you reduce this additional protection and give Microsoft Store apps more data on your system. If you are concerned about this, you should then run a malware scan to calm yourself down.
Using Windows File Explorer to Access the WindowsApps Folder
To access the WindowsApp folder in Windows 10, the easiest way is to use Windows Explorer. You will need to enable view hidden folders and take ownership of the folder, which will give you the ability to view the folder and make changes.
- First, open File Explorer on your Windows PC. Windows hides certain folders by default, so you need to disable that first. To do this, choose View> Hidden Items. As a result, hidden files and folders will appear in the list of directories on the right.
- When hidden folders are available, open the Program Files directory (usually C: Program Files) using the address bar. The WindowsApp folder should be visible in the directory listing.
- To take control of WindowsApps, right-click the folder and select Properties.
- In the Properties window, select the Security tab, then select the Advanced option.
- See Advanced Security Settings window, click the Edit button next to the owner information at the top.
- In the Select User or Group field, enter the username for your Windows account, then select Check Names before clicking OK. For Microsoft accounts, enter your email address instead.
- The ownership of the folder will be updated to reflect your username (as shown in the owner information at the top of the window). Don’t forget to check the Replace owner of subcontainers and objects box at the top of the menu. If you’re ready to proceed, click OK (or Apply> OK) to make your changes.
- You should now be able to view and edit the WindowApps folder and all subfolders and files. Double-click the WindowsApps folder in the C: Program Files directory to view all content.
Gaining Access to WindowsApps using the Windows PowerShell
The above method will give you access to the WindowsApps folder and allow you to take ownership, but this can be a rather cumbersome process. If you want to quickly change the ownership of the WindowsApps folder and have full control, you can use Windows PowerShell instead.
- To open a new PowerShell window, right-click the Start menu and select Windows PowerShell Option (Admin).
- In a new PowerShell window, type takeown / f “C: Program Files WindowsApps” / r and press Enter. It will take some time. Using the / f (force) and / r (recursive) flags, the takeown command will force the ownership of the WindowsApps folder to be applied to all files and subfolders.
After the process completes, the WindowsApps folder (C: Program Files WindowsApps) will be available to you in Windows Explorer.
Understanding the WindowsApps Folder Structure
Unlike the Program Files folder, the WindowsApp folder does not have a simple application name. The Microsoft Store app folder in WindowsApps will have a naming structure that usually follows this pattern: name, version number, architecture (for example, x64 for standard 64-bit PCs), and Microsoft Store Publisher ID.
For example, the Netflix app folder is named 4DF9E0F8.Netflix_6.97.752.0_x64__mcm4njqhnhss8. Component 4DF9E0F8.Netflix is â€‹â€‹the internal name of the app and 6.97.752.0 is the version of the app.
The x64 architecture indicates the overall 64-bit CPU architecture, and mcm4njqhnhss8 is the publisher ID for Netflix. All application folders in the WindowsApps folder will somehow conform to this structure.
You may also see some applications with more than one folder. Although the name, application version, and publisher ID remain the same, some folders will be architecture-neutral or split-neutral. This usually points to shared data files (such as application metadata) that remain the same regardless of the target architecture.
If you’re interested, you can look at the various subfolders to understand how the applications you are installing work, but you won’t be able to make any changes to the code.
Troubleshooting Microsoft Store Apps on Windows 10
Once you access the WindowsApps folder, you can examine the various Microsoft Store apps you’ve installed and (if necessary) uninstall them. Some apps, like yourphone.exe, are core Windows apps that you shouldn’t uninstall, while others (like those you install from the Store yourself) can be safely uninstalled.
However, it’s probably best to uninstall Microsoft Store apps through the Microsoft Store itself or through the Windows settings menu. If you’re having trouble updating apps you’ve installed yourself, you might need to find out why, including checking slow downloads from the Microsoft Store.
Accessing the Windows Applications folder in Windows 10
Accessing the Windows Applications folder in Windows 10