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Manage Permissions From The Command Line 

Automating your daily tasks through the Windows NT Explorer or File Manager isn't the best solution for managing NTFS permissions.

Command-line utilities are very handy in such situations. Windows NT 4 ships with the Cacls.exe utility, a tool that displays and modifies access control lists (ACLs), which hold the security permissions, from the command prompt.

The syntax of the Cacls.exe utility is very simple. You can get all the options by simply typing cacls at the command prompt. If you include a filename with the command (e.g., cacls myfile), the utility will display ACLs for the specified file. For example, typing cacls c:\winnt will display security permissions for the WINNT folder.

But listing the ACLs is only one of the utility's features. Cacls.exe is even better suited for changing the security permissions from the command line. You can use the utility to replace the security permissions on a given file or folder.

For example, typing cacls c:\myfile.txt /G john:F will grant user John full control over Myfile.txt, and all other previously defined permissions will be deleted.

If you don't want to remove previously defined permissions, add the /E switch. Typing cacls c:\myfile.txt /E /G john:F adds user John to the security permissions of the file, but other permissions are left unchanged.

You can also use Cacls.exe in batch files, but it requires a small trick. If you try to replace all the security permissions for a file without using the /E switch, Cacls.exe will display the Are You Sure? (Y/N) prompt. To completely script this in a batch file, you'll have to run the command as shown below:

Echo y| cacls c:\myfile.txt /G john:F

Note the echo y| in front of the command: Make sure you don't put a space between | and y.

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