Read-Only should not prevent you from copying the files. This might mean that you have some other problems with your HDD. Consider scanning it with chkdsk first before continuing. You could also try using xcopy via the command prompt.
Are you on the Administrator's account? If not, switch to it and retry. Are the files stored on the ROOT of the C:\ drive, on the Desktop or in any System folder? If so, move them to a separate folder. If all fails, use "attrib -r c:\YourFolderOrFile /s" via the command prompt which will force removing the attribute. The /s switch will apply changes to sub-folders and files in them.
If even that fails, perform a chkdsk scan with the /f switch to force it and apply fixes, then retry.
Are you sure you're not trying to copy your past selection from the external HDD? You need to select the files you've just copied (wherever they are now) and attempt copying them - the external HDD has been formatted so the files are indeed not found.
If that's not the case and you're 100% certain that you are copying the files you intend to copy, it may signify a more in-depth problem with the system, which is why I recommended to scan the drive. I know it's a chore, but it usually resolves issues like this one.
Alright then, to make things quicker, you can use this command (since it seems to work on files) - "attrib -r *.* /s /d" - this should technically unmark all files within the directory tree you're starting it from.
Here's the complete syntax of the tool for you to fiddle with, maybe you'll manage to unmark the folders as well with it.
Hmm... No idea how to proceed at this point, really. At this point you shouldn't have any problems changing the attribute. The only thing that springs to mind would be using a Live CD/USB of sorts - this shouldn't be as troublesome as it is.
Jesus Christ weird advice going on in this thread.
Read-only is not a problem. Windows shows that by default for all directories.
It's a tri-state check box. Checked means its read-only. Unchecked means it's not read-only. A square box (neither checked nor unchecked) means the directory is not read-only but files in it might be, if they were individually assigned as such.
Right. If you unchecked the box and hit apply, it would remove the read-only attribute from all files and directories in the directory recursively.
The next time you open the properties box, though, the checkbox will be filled in again instead of unchecked. Windows does not check for you. I don't work for Microsoft so I can't say why the decision was made to handle it like that, but it probably has something to do with the amount of time it would take to parse all of the attributes (recursively) of all the files and directories underneath the root directory being fairly long for large filing structures, which would have caused perceptible lag when opening the properties window (similar to how long it takes to show the size of all files within in a directory). WIthout any easy way to indicate what the hell is going on to the user, they probably just figured "forget it, just make it a tri-state."
SOmething on your PC is messed up. Maybe your drive? You can verify the file system and attempt to fix any issues by using the "chkdsk" command.
Run "chkdsk /?" do see a list of switches for that command and what they do. Then run it on your drive with the appropriate switches to verify all the files are there and not corrupted, and fix any issues if possible.