Older version of the Windows operating system, such as Windows 98 and Windows XP, allowed the user to change whatever they wanted within the operating system files, with little or no protections or oversight. That all changed on Windows 7, however, and you are now prevented from making most modifications to operating system files such as shell32.dll. Modifying and moving these files can be extremely useful at times, however. You should be aware, though, that modifying and moving files such as shell32.dll may impair or break your operating system in some way.
Open the start menu by clicking on the Windows icon in the lower left corner of your desktop. Click on “All Programs,” then on “Accessories” and finally on “Command Prompt,” which will open up the Command Prompt program.
Type “cd C:/Windows/System32” in to the command prompt and push the “Enter” key. If you have installed Windows on a drive other than C you will need to replace the “C” in the above command with the correct drive letter.
Type “TAKEOWN /f shell32.dll” in to the command prompt. Push the “Enter” key. This gives you ownership of the shell32.dll file.
Type “ICACLS shell32.dll /grant USERNAME:F” in to the command prompt and push the “Enter” key. You will need to replace “USERNAME” in the command with your username. This is the name that you see when you log in after turning your computer on.
Rename shell32.dll to something else if you are planning to copy a new shell32.dll in to the System32. Do this by typing “rename shell32.dll shell32.dll.backup” in to the command prompt and pushing the “Enter” key. This will rename the old shell32.dll to "shell32.dll.backpup" so that if you ever need to revert back to it, it's available. Alternatively, you can use File Explorer to navigate to the System32 folder and change the name like you would any other file.
Type “copy path\to\modified\shell32.dll C:\Windows\System32\” into the command prompt and push the “Enter” key. You will need to replace the “path\to\modified\” portion of the command with the file location of the new shell32.dll that you're copying in to System32. Alternatively, you can use File Explorer to copy and paste the file as you normally would.
Tips & Warnings
- Be sure that you know what you're doing before modifying or replacing system files. Protections on system files are in place for a reason.
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images