Cannot Save Files to Desktop and Error “File not found” in Windows 10

When you try to save a file on the desktop or the documents folder on your Windows 10 computer, it may show the “File not found” error message. Here is the full error message verbatim:

Save as C:\Users\Ramesh\Desktop\filename.txt
File not found.
Check the file name and try again.

.. with the “Unauthorized changes blocked” error in the Notification area and the Action Center.

unauthorized changes blocked - controlled folder access

For each error, an action center notification along with an event log entry is created.

unauthorized changes blocked - controlled folder access - action center

Here are the related event log entries (Event Id: 1123):


Log Name:      Microsoft-Windows-Windows Defender/Operational
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-Windows Defender
Date:         
Event ID:      1123
Task Category: None
Level:         Warning
Keywords:      
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:      DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
Description:
C:\Program Files\Tally\Tally.ERP9\tally.exe has been blocked from modifying %userprofile%\Documents\ by Controlled Folder Access.
     Detection time: 
     User: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q\ramesh
     Path: %userprofile%\Documents\
     Process Name: C:\Program Files\Tally\Tally.ERP9\tally.exe
     Signature Version: 1.291.266.0
     Engine Version: 1.1.15800.1
     Product Version: 4.18.1902.2

Log Name:      Microsoft-Windows-Windows Defender/Operational
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-Windows Defender
Date:          
Event ID:      1123
Task Category: None
Level:         Warning
Keywords:      
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:      DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
Description:
C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe has been blocked from modifying %desktopdirectory%\ by Controlled Folder Access.
     Detection time: 
     User: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q\ramesh
     Path: %desktopdirectory%\
     Process Name: C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe
     Signature Version: 1.291.266.0
     Engine Version: 1.1.15800.1
     Product Version: 4.18.1902.2

The above symptoms are observed in Windows 10 build 1709 and higher. It’s because of “Controlled Folder Access”, an anti-ransomware feature first introduced in Fall Creators Update v1709, is preventing untrusted programs from writing to protected areas like the Desktop or Documents folder.

Microsoft doesn’t tell which programs are “untrusted”. For instance, the above error may occur when saving to .txt files on the Desktop using EditPad Lite or similar program. When I tested with Notepad++ in Windows 10 v1809, the issue didn’t appear. It could be possible that Windows 10 has a built-in list of “trusted” programs, and the list may get updated now and then.



Fix: Unable to Save Files to Desktop and Error “File not found”

Option 1: Turn Off Controlled Folder Access

To turn off Controlled Folder Access, use these steps:

  1. Open Windows Defender Security Center
  2. Click Virus & threat protection
  3. Click Virus & threat protection settings
  4. Scroll down to Controlled folder access

    Enabling Controlled folder access - Windows Defender
    Disabling Windows Defender Controlled folder access

  5. Turn the setting off

Option 2: Allow Specific Programs for Controlled Folder Access (having the option Enabled)

Occasionally, an app that is safe to use will be identified as harmful by the Controlled Folder Access feature. This happens because Microsoft wants to keep you safe and will sometimes err on the side of caution; however, this might interfere with how you normally use your PC. You can add an app to the list of safe or allowed apps to prevent them from being blocked.

If you don’t want to turn off Controlled Folder Access, you can instead whitelist specific programs so that Windows 10 doesn’t block those apps from writing to the desktop, documents or other protected folders.

Controlled folder access -- Allowing an app
Controlled folder access — Allowing an app

To whitelist (allow) programs for Controlled Folder access, refer to the article How to Configure and Use Controlled Folder Access in Windows 10 for a detailed information. Note that you can use PowerShell to toggle on/off the setting. Be sure to whitelist PowerShell.exe first.

That’s it! Hope the article helps.


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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

4 thoughts on “Cannot Save Files to Desktop and Error “File not found” in Windows 10”

  1. I wonder why Windows 10 changes this ‘Protected Folders’ option… maybe an update. Was tearing my hair out, about to lose hours of work, found this, fixed it. Many thanks!

    Reply

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